By Jana Persky
When I took over this job last summer, I thought I knew a lot about The Daily. I knew our history, our publication schedule, our style guidelines. But what I didn’t fully appreciate was that most fundamentally, The Daily is a living, breathing organism of over 120 people. And people – both inside and outside The Daily – are what I’ve spent the most time thinking about: how to motivate them, serve them and in one way or another, try to make their lives better.
On this campus, everyone’s always “busy.” They are doing a thousand different things at a time. In many ways, I’m just like this, and I like this. Something I love about this school is that there’s rarely a single box you can put someone in: The athletes are also nerds, the mathematicians are also politicians and the chefs are also hikers.
There comes a point, however, when it’s too much. Many people are so overcommitted that they end up being unable to fulfill their commitments. They don’t show up for meetings, ignore emails and miss deadlines. And when you do this – as we all have – you aren’t just letting down a specific project or class, you’re letting down people who should matter to you. Or on the flipside, if you have to go to that meeting, you might be letting down a friend in need. There’s just not enough time to do everything, so it’s important to choose the right things. As we clamor to build our resumes, gather awards and boost our GPAs, we forget about the impact we can have – both positive and negative – on other people’s lives.
It’s something we have to keep in mind as journalists, too. Recently, The Daily received several emails, including one from a rape survivor, thanking us for the professionalism and specificity with which we laid out the recent story of sexual assault without over-sensationalizing or casting blame. Amidst the turmoil the event created on campus, this was a powerful reminder of the impact– again, positive or negative – our work can have.
Brock Turner is a real person. The alleged victim is a real person. So is every person we write about in any story. And each reader reading the story is a real person with his or her own history, fears and perspectives. A word choice or a miscommunicated fact can have a real impact on someone’s life.
This is important to remember for all those who practice or consume news on this campus. Recently, there’s been a rise of new information sources on campus such as Yik Yak and the Fountain Hopper. Overall, this is a good thing. The more opportunities that students have to learn about and engage with their community, the better. And there’s much that can be learned from the success of these platforms at rooting out the stories people are interested in and delivering them to readers.
But I worry that in thrill of it all, people don’t realize the effect that their words can have. The person you’re making a joke about, the person you’re blaming for [insert issue X], the person you saw at Arrillaga that you think is the love of your life – they are all real. And no Yakarma, Facebook like or website click is worth hurting someone else.
So as we go forward, as we all continue to read, write, play, study, party and work, together, let’s think about people. Let’s escape the bubble, and let’s think about the impact we’re having on others. And let’s make it a good one. That’s all I’ve got.
Thanks for reading,
President and Editor in Chief, Volume CCXLVI
Contact Jana Persky at jpersky ‘at’ stanford.edu.