(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) –This paper – the one you’re not actually holding due to our abeyance – is my last paper at UCM.
I’m leaving and so is a good chunk of my staff. They’re going off in their own ways after graduation – some back home, some to other jobs or off traveling. Wherever we’re going isn’t the point of this editorial. It’s about what we are leaving behind: the Muleskinner and where it’s going.
I’ve spent the past four years sitting at a desk in the newsroom, located on the third floor of the Wood Building, but I’ve been all over the world from this desk. The opportunities the Muleskinner has given me not only made me a better writer and storyteller but a far better person.
I’ve learned too many lessons to count from the several positions I’ve worked here: from a live-tweeter to design editor to news and eventually managing editor. Plus, the lessons from all the great people that have made their way through the newsroom.
The turnover here isn’t news though, the issue that needs addressing is the lack of people to turn the paper over to, a lack of trained journalists, a lack of audience interest and with that, a lack of revenue.
The abeyance I mentioned was a suspension of our operating budget from the university administration to not print a physical paper.
A few weeks ago, during the first wake of panic in response to this upcoming fiscal year’s budget crisis our lifestyle editor and my long-time friend said something to me during our turmoil. She said, in reference to someone else, she imagined “What would the newsroom look like with you in it?”
The way she said it really stuck with me. I took it in a very different context than how she meant it, not just with who the next managing editor – or any other editor – would be, but if YOU, our audience, were really here. How would our newsroom be different?
I don’t mean in a physical sense but in a participatory way. A way that sparks diversity and challenging conversations, in a way that gets any member of our community’s opinions – whether it’s on or off campus – in our news content.
Wednesday just happened to be #SaveStudentNewsrooms day. Yeah, a whole day to bring awareness to the fall off of newsrooms across the nation because we’re not the only student-run newspaper that feels it’s dying.
Even though I’m saying goodbye, the Muleskinner is not. It refuses to go away, even as it faces thehardships of independence and criticism of “fake news” as other newsrooms do, but we need your help.
We need your involvement, not just students, but alumni too. Especially for those who can relate to the feeling of growth the Muleskinner has brought to them in the past working at the Muleskinner. Add those who were impacted just being exposed to the paper on UCM’s campus too. This invitation extends to anyone else with ties to the Warrensburg community for that matter.
So, share this editorial. Share the ones my editors wrote too. Share the full issue – share all of it. Just start a conversation and maybe try to write it down to share with others. No matter what you end up doing, get in the newsroom in some form or fashion.
Because the answer to my friend’s question, “What would the newsroom look like with you in it?” is: a helluva lot better.