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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Giving a Hoot from the editor’s desk

Published: December 3, 2010
Section: Opinions

Meet the PRess: Ariel Wittenberg (center) with The Hoot’s 100 percent ridiculous and lovable Fall 2010 staff.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

It’s an unsettling feeling for a journalist when words fail. But how could I explain, in 600 words or so of 10 point Minion Pro font, the complex beauty that is this weekly rag?

Should I describe the stillness of a Thursday night at 1 a.m. after the paper has been put to bed? Should I express the joy felt when seeing someone else hold a newspaper that has your name among its bylines? Or should I explain that I wear the newsprint most scramble to scrub from their fingers as a badge of honor?

In my time at Brandeis, and on The Hoot, I have written more than 200 articles, millions of words, and yet it seems impossible for me to do justice to what for me has been a four-year-long love affair.

I have always said coming to Brandeis was the best decision of my life, and joining The Hoot was the close second. Now, on the eve of my last issue as editor in chief, I find that statement has never been so true.

This paper you hold in your hands is far more than just 20 pages of newsprint—16 in black and white and four in color. It is more than just a news, features, opinions, arts and sports section collated to imitate great newspapers like the New York Times.

It is the lifeblood of this staff poured into solid, tangible, readable form. It is vital information produced not only by ink, paper and press, but also by time, energy and shoe leather.

This is what I love about The Brandeis Hoot. For six years The Hoot has served as Brandeis’ community newspaper, going off the beaten path to find the story and get it right. Though I was interested in journalism in high school, I was in it for the rush—the high all too familiar to reporters who have their teeth sunk into a good scoop. Brandeis and The Hoot showed me that journalism is more than just a race to the deadline, it is about shedding light on the facts and uncovering the truth.

It’s been a turbulent four years at Brandeis, years during which a young paper, founded only in 2004, came into its own. We’ve provided comprehensive, investigative and analytical coverage of the financial crisis, the Rose Art Museum and the presidential transition, made national news, revised the web site and expanded to 20 pages.

All of this would not have been possible without The Hoot staff. Their energy, humor and dedication make Thursday nights not only worth it, but wonderful. I am confident that when I graduate in May, The Hoot will be in able hands. Though I plan to keep journalism part of my life after Brandeis, I know without them it will never be the same.

There are, of course, others beyond the staff who are responsible for our success, and one of the few perks of this being my last article as editor is the ability to acknowledge them in print and for the record. I would like to personally thank Professors Eileen McNamarra (JOUR) and Maura Farrelly (JOUR), who have served as guiding lights, showing us their ways; and President Jehuda Reinharz (also leaving his post this semester) for being sure to keep our front pages interesting each week.

After almost four years, it seems impossible to let go of something that has shaped me to my core. I shudder to think of what my Thursdays will be like in six month’s time, without my newspaper, my staff or my campus to keep me company on my favorite day of the week. And though I will continue writing through next semester, though the weekly news cycle will continue with me and then without me, it is incomprehensible that my time on this newspaper is soon to end.

But that’s the thing about newspapers: They exist only for a moment. The next day they are recycled, wrapped around fish or cut into strips for papier maché. And the newsprint that marks my face today will be yesterday’s news tomorrow.