This past week was staff turnover week. This essentially means that people like myself stepped out of our positions and became overseers to the new staff, who were either new to the office or freshly promoted.
I watched the new staff members, most of whom I had seen grow over the past year from people who drove me crazy to people I knew I could depend on week after week, take on new responsibilities and roles. They stepped up, and did so excitedly and with little hesitation.
So I couldn’t help but wonder: What the hell are all these people thinking?
You see, The Oswegonian is the most abusive relationship in every staff member’s life. It sucks up time and knocks down GPAs. We deal with articles that never quite come in on time and computers that wait until the page layout is almost finished before crashing and forcing us to start over. We spend every Thursday night making plans to meet up at Mug Night, but by the time the paper is done, everyone just goes home to sleep off the headaches and frustration.
You may love The Oswegonian, but it will never love you back. So it’s hard not to wonder why anyone comes back after even their first day.
But beyond just wanting to come back, most of us end up writing these sappy goodbye columns before our last day. Alumni visit and write to us with feedback. Like mosquitoes to a light, we just keep coming back to this place, no matter how many times it zaps us.
I often wonder if I’ll ever find a job I enjoy as much as this. The future holds a world of bosses and rules like “no Nerf guns in the newsroom.” I’ll write for an editor, who answers to a publisher, who answers to ownership.
But The Oswegonian is ours. Every last word and page is from the work of a student, one who gave up all that time and sanity for the sole purpose of trying to make a better newspaper. When we succeed, it’s because we tried something and put off enough homework and class time to get right. When we fail, we fail together. We don’t answer to a boss when it all goes wrong, we can only be frustrated because we wanted to make this newspaper better and, for that week, we failed. We build a little more each week, trying to take the paper just that little bit better.
We won’t be rewarded for doing so. There will be neither promotions nor bonuses. We build because we care about The Oswegonian and want it to be better. It’s idealistic, and perhaps corny, but when it’s 2 a.m. on a Wednesday and you’re still in the office searching through the AP Stylebook for whether or not to use a hyphen in “part time,” you damn well better care.
But then the semester turns and cruelly shoves us out into the real world. I sent the paper to the printers Thursday night, stepped out of the office and shut the lights off.
Now it’s someone else’s turn to build.