When I joined The Mirror my freshman year, I was looking for something familiar. I had worked on my high school’s paper, The Imprint, for a few years and had served as it’s co-editor in chief my senior year. Back then, the paper didn’t deprive me of sleep or demand I stay up until 2 a.m. in the windowless English classroom where we painstakingly laid articles out. We put out maybe three or four issues a year, and I wrote movie reviews and political opinion pieces I can barely remember. When I found The Mirror at Fairfield, while I was definitely looking to challenge myself a bit more, I was still gravitating towards what I knew. For the most part, I did a lot of that my first few years on staff.
Of the ninety or so pieces I’ve written over the years, I can confidently say the majority of them have been for the Opinion section, with a contribution to Vine thrown in here or there. I don’t pretend to know anything about Sports (the weekly 4×5 displays that all too clearly if you want to look for any proof) so I didn’t think about touching any story in that section, but News was something I regarded in a distant, trepidatious manner. If I considered it abstractly, I thought to myself, it’s something in theory I could probably do, but it’s better if I left it to the people who actually knew what they were doing to cover News. Heaven forbid I get involved and mess things up.
I actually managed to avoid News until the fall of my junior year, when I had to cover a very basic Dolan School of Business event. I remember that, with a shortage of writers, I was enlisted to cover the remaining News stories on our pitch list, and I was a nervous wreck the whole time. Our Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor at the time sat on the Google doc with me the whole time as I took notes, helping me shape the article into something tangible as I wrote it and encouraging me the whole way through. I made it through that article, and my first tentative step into News was taken.
In a Time Magazine article, written around the same time I had my first foray into News, author Jennifer Egan made the case for the importance of journalism and truth-telling writers in our current political climate. She stated plainly that, “We need to write now, write well—tell the truth in all its messy complexity.” She wasn’t just referring to news writing here, but having now led a news publication for a year, I hope to take her central argument that much further.
I’ve written more News articles this year than I ever have before, ranging from event coverage to lecturer interviews to investigative stories. I’ve seen the impact of a well-researched, well-written story, and I’ve made mistakes (so, so many mistakes) and seen what harm those too can bring.
What I hope readers of The Mirror will realize however, and what I have tried to bring with me out of this experience, is the earnestness and genuinity with which our staff and any dedicated journalist writes these stories. Journalists are out to discover the truth, to do the cliched, noble task of keeping institutions of power in check. But in the time we live in, they’re also out in their field pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, fighting against the age of mistruths we’ve been dropped into. The ones trying their best every day to report on the news honestly and ethically are the ones who are most determined not to be gaslighted by the powers they’re holding to account; they give us a reminder every day of the bizarreness of our modern day.
I am not in any way equating my coverage of campus events to the level of reporting done for a publication like the previously mentioned Time Magazine. However, in taking on a more active role in our News section and our newspaper overall, I feel that myself and anyone who’s ever written for The Mirror has done something similar to what journalists do every day; we’ve put ourselves outside our personal realms of familiarity. With Fairfield acting as our tiny microcosm of the world, we’ve pushed ourselves to honestly document the significance of what surrounds us in this tiny world, and to seek the truth of what we see so that we may improve it. We’ve made mistakes, misquoted people or gotten facts wrong, but we’ve done it in the honest pursuit of that truth, and of learning how to do better.
My epitaph in Coffee Break this week says somewhat glibly, “Here lies Lexi Thimble. She tried her damned best.” Unequivocally, and under no pretense, I really did. Not only that, but every staff member and writer and photographer and editor who comes after me will do the same, and that’s all we can ask of the people who have been tasked with telling the truth.