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Letter from the editor: lessons in the Daily archives

When a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional last August, two of my Daily colleagues jumped into action to capture reactions in the Stanford community. On deadline, they reported an excellent story for our weekly summer edition, bringing us candid scenes happening in the wake of the ruling.

They found one senior, Aidan Dunn, savoring what he called “a great day” after his years of activism. “For me personally,” he said, “it means that someday I might be able to marry the person that I love.”

I turned to The Daily’s archives that day, hoping to understand the context of the moment for Dunn and others. What I found was an astonishing trove of work from the nearly two years since Prop. 8’s ballot appearance. It spanned several Daily volumes, bearing the names of more than a dozen writers and photographers, and probably involved as many editors. It chronicled the struggles of hundreds of Stanford students — students on both sides of the issue — in the streets, the classroom and the polling station.

What stood out, particularly, was the persistence of The Daily’s coverage, even as the organization saw changes in leadership and staff over the years. Each story mattered. Each one aimed to advance our understanding of the issue as it played out on campus. And, little by little, each one succeeded. The story by Amy Julia Harris and Jane LePham in August became the newest in that body of work.

It was invaluable that day, and remains so. As Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, wrote this week, “Ninety-nine percent of what we read or hear on the news does not profoundly change our understanding of how the world works. News mostly advances by inches and feet, not in great leaps.”

For the Stanford community, The Daily’s archives contain countless stories that did just that. They draw people to the office to this day — researchers, alumni, students and passer-by alike, all finding value in the persistence of this historic community newspaper over the decades.

Advancing the news is what I hope we have done in Volume 238, a volume I have been honored to lead for nearly seven months. I thank our selfless and skilled deputy editor, Jacob Jaffe, and the rest of the terrific team that produced this volume. I’m confident that our work has, little by little, added to the larger Stanford story, and I couldn’t ask for much more.

The next Daily staff will pick up that responsibility, and with it, enjoy editorial independence and a home in the heart of campus. I urge them to take that seriously, to find their own ways to advance Stanford news and to enjoy the experience.

Our readers are in great hands.

With thanks,

Elizabeth Titus

Editor in chief

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