A first hello
Hi, my name is Ron.
I figure this is a good place to start, since I’ll be trying to build a better relationship with you, dear reader, over the next five and a half months. Whether we know each other from other times and places around campus, or this is the first time you’re hearing my name, I’m looking forward to interacting with you on a regular basis and there’s no better way to get started than with hello.
The fact that I’m introducing myself now, in the second last issue of the fall term, is not a mistake. Unfortunately, the former editor-in-chief moved on at the end of September, and after a lengthy hiring process I came on board just last week. In the absence of an EIC, Imprint has had to scramble to make sure you weren’t deprived of your weekly dose of UW-related coverage and I’m stepping into the midst of it this week to help a pretty impressive team keep things going.
I’m not exactly coming late to the party, though. I’ve been involved with Imprint in some capacity for a bit more than two years, and I’ve seen and done a lot in my time here. I started as a sports reporter, simply because I enjoyed writing and I thought I could cover some things better than they were being covered. I later moved into section editor positions for much the same reason, trying to improve the way the paper was laid out to make it easier for you to, well, read. Just this past year, I got fed up enough with Imprint’s old website that I formed a small team and proceeded to completely relaunch theimprint.ca.
By now you’re probably sensing a theme. I’m not here because I’m okay with the status quo, and I don’t think you’re okay with it either. In fact, one of the first things I did when I started this week was try to learn a bit more about you and nothing I’ve seen so far contradicts this.
I started by having a look at the feedback that you have already given us, thanks to our readership surveys from previous years. Some of you want more coverage of international events, while others would prefer to see a greater focus given to on-campus happenings. Many of you expressed a desire for more coverage of student politics, though a good number of you also spoke of a need to stop reporting on Feds-related news so often. Fascinatingly, there were some strongly worded critiques that Imprint contained “too much opinion and not enough fact,” matched by similarly worded demands for advice and health columns. And, perhaps ironically, there were calls for Missed Connections to make a comeback, despite the success of OMGUW, a site founded by Imprint staffers originally working out of the Imprint office.
Looking through the various social media feeds to see what people in the UW community were saying about the paper and talking to people I ran into on campus yielded similar results. The mentions from people tweeting to the @uw_imprint account is generally positive, even when you take out the mentions from people affiliated with Imprint in some way. And, being the Internet, there were of course a good number of scathing critiques and even some calls to defund Imprint.
The reality, though, is that the conflicting feedback that I’ve seen so far is emblematic of a smaller community newspaper. It’s a problem that has to do with the makeup of the community itself, namely, how to address the needs of people who live their lives primarily within the community while also catering to those who commute in and out of the community. In our case, this means trying to balance student politics with international news, a need for distractions to pass the time with a need for solid writing and reporting, and a desire to produce a quality print publication with a desire to serve readers across all media, including social media.
The fact that these interests conflict is not a problem, but rather an indication that you want us to do better in all areas. This is going to be a challenge, and I fully expect that there will be a few false steps, but I know that we’ll be trying to do better and trying to meet your needs better. I’d love to have you involved in the process. We’re always looking for new talent, by the way, so feel free to get in touch, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes us all. All in all, I’m glad to be here.
Now let’s get started.