Last night, to avoid writing the final paper of my undergraduate career, I started calculating how much time I had spent in the Daily Trojan newsroom during my time at USC. We begin production at 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and routinely stay until almost midnight. On Sunday, we start at noon (brunch provided) and usually wrap up around five or six in the evening. That’s more than 30 hours a week, 15 weeks a semester. I stopped calculating after that.
When I tell people about the time I spend at the DT, their reactions are usually incredulous. “Why?” is the question I get asked the most. “Why would anybody do that?” It’s a fair question. For the DT I’ve sacrificed my grades (sorry Ma), my social life and — despite Arianna Huffington’s warnings — my sleep. But the reason I kept going back is that I’m not alone in doing so.
It’s no secret that fewer students are reading the paper nowadays, but even fewer students know how it gets made. Every day, starting with blank InDesign templates and stories emailed in or shared via Google Docs, my staff and I produce a product 10,000 copies of which will be distributed on campus the following morning. It’s a collaborative effort involving dozens of students — reporters, photographers, designers, bloggers, artists, copy editors and editors — all of whom contribute their time and effort each day to creating this megaphone for the student voice.
As editor-in-chief, I get to have my name at the top of the masthead, but I’m really just a small part of a process that dates back to 1912 — and it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. The paper has certainly evolved since it began more than 100 years ago, and will continue to. Just this semester, we launched on Apple News, introduced graphics and video to our social media platforms and created a new digital edition of our supplement issue, It Takes a Village.
But the greatest part of the DT is timeless — it’s students coming together every day to create something together. We’re not perfect, we make our fair share of mistakes, but we do a lot of great work too. This semester we celebrated our men’s basketball team making the NCAA tournament, we shone a light on the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles and we called out the administration for its lack of transparency with tuition increases. We beat the Los Angeles Times on a story about faculty unionization efforts and The New York Times noted an opinion from our editorial board calling for a female athletic director. And we went to class — sometimes.
The best part of my job as editor was seeing my staff grow over the semester to the point where I realized that if I didn’t show up, they would be fine on their own. It was seeing eager freshmen on staff and knowing that the paper still has a bright future ahead of it. It was being part of something far greater than myself or any individual student. It was being part of a tradition of excellence that will continue long after I leave this campus. To those who ask why I did it, I say: I couldn’t have been anywhere else.
Anshu Siripurapu is a senior majoring in political economy. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Daily Trojan.