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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Happy fifth birthday to The Hoot!

Published: January 22, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

Mod 14. That’s where it all started. That’s where my suitemates and I conceived of the crazy notion that two ex Justice Editors, an ex-Union Secretary and a handful of friends with little or no prior newspaper experience could do this. That’s where we decided that instead of having a party-filled, stress-free final semester at Brandeis, we would dedicate countless all-nighters to starting and operating a college newspaper. That’s when the first six issues of The Hoot were mostly written, edited and produced.

We were fortunate. We miraculous convinced the F-Board to take a chance on us and fully fund the printing of a newspaper that hadn’t even printed one issue. We somehow managed to secure an office and convince then Vice President for Students and Enrollment Brian Walton to furnish it for us with two brand new computers and a 11×17 printer.

Most importantly though, we lucked out big time in that so many dedicated and competent writers, illustrators, photographers and editors foaund us and stuck with us despite our missing the printing deadline for the first issue by three days. These same writers and editors after just one semester of experience took over The Hoot upon our graduation and admirably nurtured it to a vibrant school newspaper—one that continues to keep the powers at Brandeis, be they student or administrative, accountable.

Five years later, I stared at a blank word document for hours thinking how to express the immense pride I feel knowing The Hoot is still printing. Sustaining a second newspaper for such a small campus is no trivial feat and to do so through more than five stable editorial transitions is a testament to the high quality of students at Brandeis. I’m very proud.

When The Hoot was founded it was new and was not rooted in tradition. We got to shape it into whatever we wanted. My hope was that upon our departure from Brandeis, The Hoot became what each successive generation of Editors and writers needed it to become.

Every so often someone asks me if a current iteration of The Hoot is what was envisioned upon its inception. My answer is always the same: “Absolutely!”

I’m no longer on campus. The Hoot is no longer my baby. It belongs to the current generation of Hooters and whichever direction they think is best for The Hoot, should not be detoured because someone thinks its counter to what the founders of the paper may have wanted. The whole point of The Hoot was to fill a void that existed at Brandeis and who better to know what the current void is than current crop of wonderful editors.

To be stuck constantly questioning if this is something the founders intended would just burden successive generation of editors to run the paper as if it’s 2005 and not 2010. That is the legacy we hoped to leave behind—one of change, innovation and agility rather than stagnation and tradition. From following The Hoot over the past five years, I’m ecstatic that in fact that is the case.

I do want to pass one piece of advice to current and future Hoot editors. Your friends are important. You’ll hear that friends you make in college you’ll keep for the rest of your life. You’ll hear correctly. No club, no newspaper is worth the sacrificing friendships for.

The Hoot is an adventure. It’s part of your awesome journey through Brandeis. If, however, The Hoot stops being fun, if coming to editorial board meetings, writing articles, taking pictures, drawing illustrations, editing copy and prettying up layout becomes a chore, please walk away. Please don’t lose precious days of your short four years at Brandeis working on something you are no longer passionate about out of some sense of responsibility to continue The Hoot. I would rather The Hoot cease printing than for editors to sacrifice their friendships or something like their study-abroad chance just to keep The Hoot going.

However, as long as you are having fun, please continue the trend of producing a quality community newspaper. Happy fifth anniversary!