I am writing this in the newsroom to the constant hum of our old Mac desktops. It is five minutes ‘til 5 p.m., five minutes until the newsroom comes alive on Monday evenings to the sound of rapid mouse clicks, furious taps of keyboard keys and spontaneous bursts of laughter from every corner of the room.
Alright, I’m back now. It is 7:17 p.m. — the hexagonal managing table is filled on all sides, we’ve put all our stories into copy and layout is (thankfully) finished on the computer screen. My co-editor Allen and I take turns sitting on the editing chair, clicking away into the night.
Working from 5 p.m. to the obscure hours before midnight sounds exhausting. That’s what I thought, initially, when I started working as Lifestyle editor for the spring semester. I came into the newsroom with one plan: finishing layout and getting out of there as soon as possible. The first few weeks were hard; my eyelids would begin drooping around 9 p.m., and I would fall asleep as soon as I got back to my dorm at around 10:45.
It was, ironically, a change in my college lifestyle. Gone were the free hours I had to Netflix and take afternoon naps. I didn’t have as much free time to spend with my roommate or lounge around EVK with my first semester friends. I started buying overpriced sandwiches and salads from Seeds, and instead of water, coffee became a supplement for my life blood. But, I’m not complaining — becoming lifestyle editor was a change I didn’t know I needed in my life.
I quote from one of my earliest friends at USC, a fellow freshman and photo editor Trevor Sochocki, “What I do know is that we are a family.” The Daily Trojan gives me a sense of community and family I didn’t know I needed until the second semester of my freshman year, as my friends found their niches in greek life, culture clubs and professional organizations. As clichéd as it sounds, the best memories in the newsroom aren’t from editing stories — it’s from the people.
It’s from hearing Allen, my co-editor, bark at a screen after I show him a cute dog from the Dogspotting page on Facebook. It’s from mocking Trump’s tweets, calling ourselves fake news and reading angry comments. It’s laughing at the memes page together and complaining when writers forget to use an oxford comma. It’s a sense of family and unity that arises from having a common purpose and destination: to inform and inspire the student body through our stories in the paper.
As one of the younger section editors on staff, I found mentors in the older managing editors, and I learn something new about journalism every day. My writing is not perfect, and neither am I, but through editing my section’s stories, I develop my own writing styles and techniques. I fall in love with journalism a little more every day, exploring page design and elements of a newsroom I never realized were so critical in print journalism.
It’s 8:16 p.m. now, and my editor-in-chief hands me the first page of proofs — the editing process that we complete every day before publication. It’s 8:30 p.m., I’m back now and we surprisingly ended the night a bit earlier than usual.
Working as an editor requires a level of dedication I didn’t envision myself committing to so early in my college career. But, in retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing. I got used to the lifestyle of an editor sooner than I expected: My body has been conditioned to doing homework to the background chatter of managing, and I come in on Mondays and Wednesdays ready to fight for a plate of Mexican food.
I became accustomed to our late night Thursday hang outs and the strange jargon of the office – jokes and mannerisms I adapted after spending almost 20 hours a week here. I spend more waking hours here than I do in my room, but maybe my waking hours are better spent here. They’re better spent, I realized, with a group of people who cares about the school, its politics and news as much as I do.