I’ve been staring at a blank Google doc with the taxing spacebar flashing at me for about 20 minutes. I get it. It’s 6:30 p.m. on Sunday and I still need to write this sign off before sending out my very last issue of The Commonwealth Times — but how do I articulate all my feelings about a 10 page piece of paper that has consumed my life for eight semesters?
I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go with this sign off. Do I want to be sarcastic and witty, or should I just flood this page with my sappy feelings about how I’ll “never work in an environment as indescribable as this one”? — I’ll try to go the middle route.
When I first arrived at VCU in August 2014, I never imagined my life would revolve around the CT for eight whole semesters and I certainly did not anticipate every weekend of my junior and senior year would be engulfed by editing copy until my eyes bled, and nonetheless, I would not want to wrap up college any other way.
I’m not sure what most CT readers think goes on inside the windowless room that is the CT production room, but it’s definitely not what I imagined when I first sought out a position with my college newspaper.
When editors’ and writers’ eyes stop bleeding from reading hours of copy and designers’ hands aren’t cramping from moving copy and fixing orphans, we’re taking two minute dance breaks, singing karaoke, watching last night’s SNL clips and planning the “lunch move.”
The production room isn’t full of grey cubicles, corded phones or stacks of anonymous tips like in “The Post” or “All the President’s Men.” Instead, the room is a conglomerate space of random desk chairs, photoshopped pictures of various staff members and a painted canvas painted by our very own Copy Editor, Jesse, which serves as our window and provides metaphorical sunlight.
I’ve never thought of myself as the “mom friend” in any group I’ve been part of. I trip a lot and drop my phone in the toilet. I get distracted by every little thing on the street and bring home random trinkets I find. Every other sentence I say turns into word vomit because I have so much to say but struggle to get it out.
But this year I became a mom to over 15 staff members. I gained a family of 19 to 30-something year old children who I would do just about anything for — whether that is staying up hours after I planned to go to bed on a Tuesday to copy edit their artist statement for class, piling six of them into my car to drive them home in the rain at 2 a.m. or driving them outside of Richmond to pick up something from Craigslist.
My time here has been the experience of a lifetime. There have been an ungodly number of times I’ve wanted to kick, scream, quit and cry but the silver lining is, that number is overshadowed by the amount of love I have for this paper and staff. The number of times this staff has made me laugh until I cry and my stomach hurts. By how proud I am when I watch a writer’s skill set grow. When members of the staff bring home awards from the Virginia Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.
I got so much more out of this job than I ever imagined I would. I got to interview professional athletes and fly to Salt Lake City, Utah for the NCAA basketball tournament. I learned how to handle a budget and hire people. I learned what goes into advertising and how to fix kerning on InDesign. I learned I love drawing comics even though I can’t draw for shit (thanks Ryan).
I couldn’t be more excited to pass the torch of Executive Editor over to my former Sports Editor compadre, Zach. Dude you’re going to kill it and yes, I’ll come in for the first issue when InDesign crashes at 11 p.m. and you’re scrambling to put the paper back together.
Four job titles, eight semesters, 116 issues and over 150 articles later. Thank you, The Commonwealth Times and the Student Media Center, for giving me another family and consuming my entire weekend countless times. I’m not much of a crier on the outside (it makes my head hurt and my contacts stick to my eyes) but my heart is definitely crying as I finish my last CT production.
Sophia is a senior print/online journalism student pursuing a minors in history and gender, sexuality and women’s studies. Over the summer she interned at ABC7-WJLA in the sports department. She enjoys writing about current events and sports and hopes to one day be a sports reporter on the sidelines of game seven of the NBA Finals or in the press box at the World Series.