Ellie Rulon-Miller sat at a desk, her eyes fixated on the computer screen in front of her.
It was just before midnight on Wednesday in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian newsroom. All of the next day’s stories had been edited, but Rulon-Miller — a Collegian night editor and arts and living section editor — continued writing. She was drafting her senior column, trying to come up with the perfect words to say about leaving this newspaper.
“I’m cool with leaving college, but I don’t want to leave the Collegian yet,” she said.
Rulon-Miller, 22, will graduate in December but this week is the beginning of the end. The Collegian wraps up its yearly production next Tuesday, marking the conclusion for graduating seniors — myself included — of years of chaotic newsrooms and sleepless nights.
It is in the Collegian’s basement office where a paper is made every Sunday through Thursday night by a “fairly well-oiled team for such a rag-tag bunch of scrappers,” said David Coffey, 21, an assistant arts and living editor this year.
And it is under fluorescent lights where friendships are formed, coffee is consumed in excess and 4:00 a.m. headline debates rage. Hours are spent toiling away on the paper each night, only for the process to repeat itself the next day.
Lauren Vincent, a 21-year-old assistant editorial editor, has enjoyed the late hours.
“I felt like I was doing something that would prepare me for the real world,” she said. “I was in a high pressure situation, especially the times I had to write something on the spot.”
Kate Evans, 23, now likes coming into work, but there was a time when she viewed an upcoming shift with dread.
“An average night. . .on desk last semester was overwhelming, scary and daunting,” said Evans, a copy editor and assistant arts and living editor. “I became more comfortable as time went on. . .Working on staff has given me a chance to understand more than just writing an article.”
It’s impossible not to grow here — as journalists, as co-workers and as people.
Lindsey Davis, 22, used to linger in her car whenever she covered assignments, unsure about whether or not she should get out.
“I was scared to death. I didn’t think I was a legitimate person to be able to do anything,” she said.
But now Davis is in a leadership role at the paper, serving as managing editor of DailyCollegian.com during the past academic year.
“I’ve been proud of myself that I’ve been able to gain so much confidence,” she said. “Friday, Al Gore is coming, and I’m going to march right up and have a conversation with him.”
Coffey will work the arts desk Sunday — his final night working at the Collegian. In less than three weeks, he will begin a full-time job, a position he said he would not have obtained without his college newspaper experience.
“I have no doubt that every position in journalism I’ve had. . .was only within my reach because of the skills I’ve learned at the Collegian, from how to write a news lede to building the page itself in layout,” he said.
With just a few papers left, the end is now in plain sight. Denial is no longer an option.
“It’s a really bittersweet situation for me. . .I want to move on and actually get a job in the real world,” said Davis. “But to actually think of going off and leaving this very comfortable situation, always knowing you have the newsroom down here, always knowing you have the same faces you can talk to, it’s going to be weird.”
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