How the year has flown by! It seems only yesterday that I sat before an empty computer, pondering the content of my very first guest editorial for the Pilot. Since then, I have served the paper as a guest designer and occasional contributor, then design editor, and now as co-editor in chief for a year. Looking back over my time with the paper, I have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people, engage with a range of issues from the sublime to the ridiculous, and tread softly (though sometimes not softly enough) around sensitive topics.
Most importantly, I have experienced what it means to be a functional member of a group with a common purpose: producing a newspaper that acts as a positive force within the community.
This is a purpose in which we are destined to instances of failure. There are moments in which a lack of foresight leaves somebody upset, in which an angle is missed, in which controversy is stirred rather than lifted, and so on. Yet our common purpose turns these instances of failure into lessons.
Working in a position that has involved managing others, making judgment calls about content, and handling interpersonal conflicts has yielded many lessons. These lessons are mainly practical steps to take regarding various tasks. But there has been one uber-lesson, a lesson so big that it has had an impact on my life far beyond the scope of any Pilot role. This uber-lesson is that good communication is a two-way process of careful, patient listening.
I have advocated many things in my editorials over the past year: bicycles, baseball caps, and fine art. Looking back, I see the foundational theme of improving communication. In light of that, I would like to leave with the following (hopefully positive) message.
We are a small community, striving to be many things. We stumble into issues at no greater rate than any other community. However, because we hold ourselves to such high standards, the temptation is to see a stumble as a failure and not a lesson. It is evident that the uber-lesson of communication as a two-way process plays into all of these things. When our sense of the community fails to meet expectations, it is easy to complain that communication is not happening. But remember that two-way process of careful, patient listening. When we grumble about a professor, housemate, Campus Security, or “the administration,” we do the opposite of communicate: we create barriers. When we run into problems, they are ours as a community and as participants in a two-way process.
My co-editor in chief and I have spent a year learning how to better communicate and have truly enjoyed this rewarding opportunity. With twelve issues of hard work and strong journalism in our pockets, it is now time to invite another pair of hands to participate in this role. Hillary Moser and Warren Curkendall will be next year’s editors in chief, and we wish them every success for the coming year. We know that they will continue to produce an insightful, positive, and high-quality newspaper. Congratulations, Hillary and Warren!
David Miller and Katie Ward