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ISSUE 121 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/2/2008

A Word from Our Editors: Final Words

By Matt Tiano
Executive Editor
and Peter Farrell
Executive Editor

Friday, May 2, 2008

It's handoff time at the Manitou Messenger. We've both worked at the Mess for three (Matt) and four (Pete) years now, and in a few days, our time as editors is up. This week, departing staffers are scrambling to impart our last little nuggets of wisdom to next year's Mess crew. Unlike graduation, which still seems like a distant dream, the transition from old to new here feels concrete, permanent.

We aren't so much concerned with the new staff's ability to carry on a rich and fulfilling legacy, which we are sure they are prepared to handle, but remembering these last few years and the lessons learned as editors of this publication.

If we report information that our readership otherwise wouldn't get, then we have done our job. We like to think that our readers come to us first for their St. Olaf-related news. We also know, however, that the reality is far different. For a lot of our readers, the Mess is something you look over during breakfast at the Caf.

We're not naive enough to think that the Mess is read cover to cover every week. But that doesn't mean we don't try and make reading the Mess cover to cover a worthwhile endeavor.

Editors have little incentive -- and receive little feedback -- to do a job that comes with little tangible reward. The job is routine and taxing: 20-35 hours per week, some more, some less, 20 weeks per academic year. You've seen the racks in Buntrock with many un-read papers neatly arranged.

Yet here we are in our cramped office, which is better suited for a small four-person meeting than a 20-person newspaper staff, awake until the sun rises on Wednesdays, the night we go to press. We freak out about comma splices or about typos that somehow weren't caught from the paper the week before. Why? Why should care about all the little stuff that no one notices? It's a matter of pride.

We take pride in the work we do here at the Mess. If we've learned anything since we've worked here, it's that there's a certain feeling attached to a job well done, even if that job seems futile at times. Effective journalism is built around people's stories.

This year, we tried to tell the untold stories that make this campus unique. Hopefully, we've succeeded, at least to a certain extent. But our job is worthless without the wider input of the student body. We continute to encourage all students to leave their mark on the Mess, as it remains one of St. Olaf's best forums for the exchange of ideas and information.

The Mess wasn't perfect this year, and it won't be perfect next year. There will always be ways to improve the paper, and each year a new crop of staffers comes in and shakes things up, ensuring that the paper stays fresh.

But the Manitou Messenger is more than a newspaper, and certainly more than a bunch of students crammed into an office with an AP Stylebook under one arm. The Mess is about St. Olaf as a place, and taking pride in a place that's been a big part of our lives for the past four years.

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