Tuesday, April 23, 2013

in the history books.

"Journalism is the first rough draft of history." -Phil Graham, publisher, The Washington Post
(from the Newseum in Washington, D.C.)
I first noticed the books in the fall of 2009, half hidden behind the orphaned couch and obscured behind trinkets and gag books received via mail. I'd been working at the New University for eight months, and until that point, I'd never bothered to look too closely until, one Friday while I waited for dummies, I finally did.

When I asked the then-Layout Editor what they were, she said they were old copies of the newspaper, but that we didn't really look at them unless we had a layout question and needed to consult the previous year's issues. I remember the then-Editor-in-Chief chiming in to suggest we move them into storage because the layout of the newsroom was awkward and we could use the extra space.

But we left them, and I didn't think twice until five months later when someone tossed me a pen and it dropped behind the couch. When I reached for the pen, I saw the bottom shelves of books that dated back to 1967, when the New U used to be The Spectrum, and then at one point also The Anthill and The Tongue. Over the next week, I stopped into the newsroom between classes to look through the older archives, marveling at the stories of a campus and city that no longer exists in the same way. Even the national news coverage was unique because it told a story from the UCI perspective. After all, what good is a newspaper if it isn't going to give you your community's take?

As I leafed through the pages, I noticed an evolution that was documented with care and concern for a campus that rose up in the middle of nowhere, and a city that would close in on it within a decade of its inception. It was in those pages that I learned how different UCI once was, with a chancellor who led the campus' first walkout protest and a radical student body that sent a delegation to Berkeley's People's Park protest that ended up being arrested and bailed out by the university itself. Those stories led me to my own year-long research into the failure of the Master Plan, along with the rise and fall of student activism at UCI, but it also led me to realize what was missing from the New University in the 21st century, and it motivated me to apply for Managing Editor to try and bring the vision of the old New U back.

I wanted the editors and writers and photographers to be inspired by the rich history of UCI, to understand that the story of the campus before the Irvine Company painted everything beige, and to know that there was still so much more to be told. I didn't want people to just clock in and clock out; I wanted them to be passionate about the community they reported on. I wanted them to feel the weight of what it meant to contribute to this documentation of history that nobody else was really documenting anymore.

I'm proud of what we accomplished by the end of the 2011 school year and, returning to campus yesterday, I'm even more proud of what's been accomplished since. There was nothing but praise and admiration for the current staff, and although I've been removed from campus happenings for two years now, I can see it is well-deserved based on a single whirlwind visit. I know that voting is over to try and save the New U, and results will be out in just a few hours, but I hope everyone who's worked so hard is proud of themselves for all they've contributed to the paper's success. The New U may not have always printed what people wanted to hear, but it's always printed the story that needed to be told. I hope 50 years from now, there'll still be proof of that.

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