From the Editor: I am a (student) journalist

If you had told me three years ago today that I would be sitting on a couch in the fourth floor of the Student Union, penning this and serving as the editor-in-chief of the Daily Trojan, I really don’t think that I would have believed you. 

Maybe that doesn’t sound completely honest — if you look at the trajectory of my time at this publication, it might look like I’ve been primed for this role: joining the paper during my first semester on campus and working my way up the masthead’s hierarchy through the news section, onto the managing team, to my current spot. 

But I promise, assuming this position was never an end goal of mine. In fact, each semester since my very first one, I told myself and all of my friends that it would be my last — I even made a promise with a fellow editor last year that I would never, ever run for editor-in-chief. 

To put it simply, I have an extreme love-hate relationship with this publication. A journalist at heart, I love the opportunity to storytell, to talk to people and report on important news to the University community. I want to highlight the achievements of students, staff and faculty that normally fly under the radar, and I want to bring necessary attention to topics that deserve it. I’m privileged to lead a publication that has served the University community for over 100 years. In theory, I’m utterly in love with this work. 

But in practice, I must admit that this job isn’t always all sunshine and rainbows. Throughout my time at the Daily Trojan, I’ve covered difficult topics, witnessed numerous colleagues quit and seen the paper receive seemingly endless backlash for our work. I’ve cried more tears than I’m willing to admit over not having enough content to fill our pages each day and spent more class periods editing articles than paying attention. 

It’s a sacrifice that my friends don’t really understand. After all, why would anyone spend every night working on the newspaper over eating with their friends, going to a social club’s meeting or even doing their homework? They joke about the hours I spend in the newsroom when I have to turn down their dinner invitations and my never-ending Slack notifications when I pull out my laptop to edit on coffee dates. 

But in all honesty, I’d be lying if I said I completely understood it too. At times, it can all feel like too much, because, why am I spending more time in the newsroom than in my apartment or editing articles late at night after coming back from a party? 

Even more so, this job isn’t just overwhelming in sheer volume. In the mere days that I’ve led the paper for this semester so far, I’ve found myself on the intangible front lines of breaking news on heavy, sensitive topics. 

They say ignorance is bliss, and sometimes, I agree. It’s hard to know so much about subjects that wouldn’t affect me at all if I didn’t have to report on it. I love USC, but the University gets harder to love when you’re constantly writing about all of the things that are wrong with it. 

Sometimes, my work at the Daily Trojan can feel like needing to choose between being a journalist and being a student — like the two most important roles I occupy on this campus are mutually exclusive. 

Perhaps all of this is already common knowledge to the average Daily Trojan reader. You could already be aware of the blurred lines surrounding my livelihoods, and maybe you’re questioning why I felt the need to write this letter at all. 

Maybe you think of the Daily Trojan as a large publication that posts breaking news updates and sports statistics on Instagram. You might not think about the writers, photographers and editors who work day and night to produce the printed pages you’re reading right now, and the fact that they are also human.

I stand behind you in the Dulce line and walk down Trousdale Parkway next to you. I study at desks in Leavey Library and say “excuse me” as I move past you in the aisles of the Village Trader Joe’s. I cry over breakups and get my feelings hurt too. I refuse to lose my humanness or sacrifice my identity as a student for my work. 

So, thank you for giving me the space to peel back my journalist layers and to personify this paper and for reading the editions that I’m in charge of creating. And most of all, thank you for treating me and my work with grace as you remember that everyone at the Daily Trojan is simply doing their best with what they’ve got. Just like you.