By Kylie Jue
I’d like to believe that 10 years from now, I’ll look back at my time as editor-in-chief and say that this was the volume that convinced me to go into journalism. I’d like to remember this as the year that changed my career path. And in many ways, it’s certainly brought me closer to that conclusion.
In reality, I can’t know for sure what I’ll be doing after graduation. And since I’ll be “slow-terming” for my master’s degree, I still have a couple years at Stanford before I have to decide. But at the very least, my time at The Daily has convinced me about the importance of the work of news organizations.
I’ve written about my Daily “origin story” in a previous editorial. But what I hope to explain in this letter is why I’ve spent so much time and energy on a single extracurricular activity while at Stanford: a question I’ve asked myself several times over the last four years.
I joined The Daily because I liked writing and editing, but when I felt burnt out after my first volume of editing for the News section, it was the mentorship and encouragement of senior editors that convinced me to stick with the job. And over time, I discovered that the part of editing I really loved was the opportunity to teach. Like my editors before me, I had the chance to help my staffers improve their writing, and one of my favorite experiences at The Daily has been running our high school summer internship program – where I first got my start in college journalism.
As part of The Daily’s executive team, it has been easy to get bogged down in the everyday tasks of printing a daily paper and responding to dozens of emails. I’ve missed editing and teaching, and it’s more difficult to get to know the new staffers. Yet despite the changes, I’ve also found new purpose in the editor-in-chief role. Even more than the mentorship and education components, The Daily has allowed me to connect with and understand the Stanford community in ways I never would have otherwise.
When people come to us with tips or op-eds, they reaffirm our importance as a local newspaper. For me, some of the most rewarding moments on the job have been receiving notes from readers or sources thanking us for our work. The Stanford Daily should produce content that both fosters greater discussion and awareness and also enables community members across campus to have their voices heard.
As I looked through past editors’ farewells, many spoke about the communication, management and leadership skills that they learned through their time here. And while I certainly learned those lessons, too, I think the most important lesson that The Daily has taught me is the importance of not only listening but also working to understand.
During my time as editor-in-chief, I have also come to question the role of college newspapers. Unlike most national papers, we serve a much smaller, very specific audience, and I believe that we have a responsibility to reflect the views and issues valued by our diverse community. But the goal of representing those different groups in both our coverage and our staff is another challenge in and of itself. Especially in today’s heated political climate, it’s difficult to enter into communities in which we have few or no connections. But it’s our duty as journalists to provide well-balanced perspectives while also caring about and understanding the communities we’re covering.
From writing to teaching to understanding, the motivating factors behind my work at The Daily have continued to shift. None of the previous purposes has ever gone away, and each adds to the previous as I continue to learn.
Right now, the journalism and media industry is broken. The way readers interact with online news is sporadic, the technology that originally increased access has created filter bubbles and the sudden proliferation of fake news is frankly scary. But that doesn’t mean the industry isn’t fixable.
The technology that broke the system also has the ability to repair it, and with the widespread national attention on the media, journalists currently have the power to influence a lot of people.
So why did I spend 50 percent of my Stanford career on The Daily? I guess it’s the same reason that I want to work in the media industry when I graduate. On the one hand, there’s the selfish and possibly naive belief that I might actually be able to make a difference through journalism. But on the other hand, The Daily has given me not only the chance to impact the Stanford community, but also the skills to really understand what those people are saying.
As Victor Xu takes over as Volume 251 editor-in-chief, I’m confident in the future of the paper (and the media industry). As for me, we’ll see if I ever make good on my promise to go into journalism as a career. But one thing is certain: There’s so much more work to do.
As always, thank you for your readership and support.
Kylie Jue ’17
President and editor-in-chief, Volume CCL
Contact Kylie Jue at kyliej ‘at’ stanford.edu.