It is with a heavy heart that I write the following — this week’s paper, our last of the semester, is my final with The Tangerine.
In my two years leading the paper as editor-in-chief (EIC), I have overseen the publishing of 48 issues of The Tangerine, copy edited over 600 articles, written 60 articles of my own and have logged thousands of combined hours of work. Since the day I was given the job as EIC, I have had one singular vision for this paper — create the most impactful, professional product that is comparable to any other news outlet.
Journalism and media in general have always played a big role in my life. From reading the local Sunday paper with my grandfather to my time studying the industry in college, I have always believed in journalism’s ability to both enlighten and entertain society.
But if I have learned anything over the last two years, it is that there are some things you just cannot plan for in this business. And I can think of no better example of this than last year’s lockdown.
I, like everyone else at Utica College, feared the worst that day. Oddly enough, I had left campus minutes before the lockdown went into effect. Worried for my friends who were scared and confused about who may be skulking the halls outside the classrooms they were trapped in — my first instinct was to find the truth of what was happening and then report it.
As has become the “new norm” during emergency situations like mass shootings, a disturbing number of fake social media accounts and posts were made during UC’s lockdown in order to misinform law enforcement and victims trapped inside their classrooms and dorms. During the lockdown, several fake accounts with false news updates were widely circulated as students, faculty, staff and their loved ones flocked to social media looking for answers.
To combat this flow of misinformation, I began checking in with UC and Utica Police Department officials to stay informed with just what was going on. Then, I began pushing out information that was verified by officials with knowledge of the lockdown situation using The Tangerine’s social media pages. These same posts were viewed by thousands and picked up by local and national news outlets, including The Washington Post and the New York Daily News.
The lockdown is something that I hope no one on this campus, now or in the future, will ever have to endure again. While I do not want to reduce the events of that day to a “case study” on journalism, I feel that The Tangerine’s coverage that day is a strong example of the impact fact-based reporting — whether it comes from a multi-million dollar media organization or just a small college newspaper — can have on elightenting and informing society.
If The Tangerine’s reporting helped reassure even just one concerned person who was trapped on campus and confused about what was going on that day, then I know that I did my job right.
I guess you could say I have no regrets from my time leading The Tangerine. Every decision I have made has been based on the singular vision to make the paper the best it possibly could be. My hope is that I have set an example for future EICs that The Tangerine’s potential to impact readers is limitless, no matter the size of its staff or the campus that it serves.
While I am sad — and somewhat in disbelief — that my time has come to an end, I am just as encouraged about the future of the paper as I was the day I took over following the 2017 spring semester.
Maria Montero Silva, after working as a special assignments reporter for two years, will be taking over as the next editor-in-chief of The Tangerine. Not only is Maria a talented writer with an eye for news, she is also a strong leader with a genuine passion for the UC campus.
There is no doubt in my mind that she and next year’s staff will continue the standard of quality and professional journalism that I have worked to set in the last two years, while also incorporating their own unique styles and perspectives into the paper’s development.
Before I sign off, I want to recognize a few people who have been influential during my tenure as EIC.
Professor Dave Chanatry, thank you for convincing me three years ago to take a chance on Utica College and The Tangerine. Professor Kim Landon, thank you for your wisdom, guidance and honest opinion. James McClendon, thank you for setting the bar for the level of drive and passion that a Tangerine EIC should have. Kyle Riecker, thank you for your creativity, dedication and brilliant layout design work that have all been so crucial to the quality of each printed copy of the paper over the last three and a half years. To all the members of The Tangerine staff I have worked with, thank you for your hard work, contributions and support.
Lastly — thank you, Professor Mary Christopher. I will forever be grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to be a small part of The Tangerine’s nearly 75-year history. You have believed in me every step of the way since giving me the EIC job two years ago.
Mary, you have been an amazing advisor, mentor and friend, and I will utilize and cherish everything you have taught me over the years as I enter the professional world.