PHOTO BY SARA SHEIKH / THE SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
When I was first handed this job in Nov. 2019, I can assure you I had no idea what I was doing.
I was pretty overwhelmed at the fact that I was now leading The Sputnik and building it up again. When I came into this position we didn’t have any consistency, we didn’t have any staff and I was put in place to make something out of it.
No shade to anyone who worked or staffed the year prior, but the reason why there was nothing, was because everyone had graduated. Leaving behind the shells of The Sputnik.
It’s been a wild ride full of many laughs, panic moments, good journalism, great friends, and yes a few tears. This job is not freaking easy let me tell you, but my staff these last two years have made it ten times better. We worked together and created something that we are all proud of.
Before the pandemic hit I was loving every moment of laying out and publishing the paper. It was a great feeling when people on campus would come to me and tell me ideas, or share stories. I felt like our campus was opening up again and seeing The Sputnik in a new light.
Seeing the papers I would lay out (pretty much by myself except for some panic calls to The President) was a surreal moment. They were put at all the hubs on campus and really seeing people read them made my heart burst.
And then everything came to a halt.
This past year has been absolutely insane and I truly owe it all to my amazing staff members and their volunteers. We haven’t printed since March 2020 and moved everything online. We moved from giving you the news once a month to every other week, and created harsher and more realistic deadlines.
There’s a lot of things about online that are great, like the fact that we can update you more instantaneously. But the loss of holding something you created in your hands was always there. We have been able to showcase some great stories and be the voice for the students, regardless as to how things were going.
I’ve always felt a huge amount of pressure to give stories that were different and unique, even with everything falling apart. My lovely sports team has been doing stories all year without having any sports happen. Their creativity and drive to still bring content, amazes me.
My news team has dealt with deadlines on deadlines, and getting a hold of people remotely added a huge challenge. They were still able to bring awesome content and important updates despite never meeting in person.
Arts and culture was never the section I was good at. My lovely team of hardworking students has put together a section I often look at in admiration. Their passion and willingness to cover any story has grown a lot over this year.
How the heck did we give you real photos? Because my photography team is the best. They worked tirelessly to stage photos of real people, that would go with any article. Their passion projects of colleges were also a nice touch that we could have only done online.
The social media team was always organized and kept you on your toes with new details of launches or how to get involved. Giving them full creative freedom of how to connect, I hope they put a smile on your face, as much as they did mine.
Finally, I’m going to be honest. I’m a terrible speller so having my terrific copy editor always correct me or my writers was a blessing.
So where does this leave us? I guess with my goodbye—well kind of. See here’s the beautiful thing about this publication. I’ve learned, grown and made mistakes here so it feels like home. It’s the first time I was trusted to make decisions on what people need to hear and how to approach tough situations.
I’m immensely thankful for Aaron Waitson (President of WLUSP), Lakyn Barton (former Executive Director) and Care Lucas (current Executive Director) for all their knowledge and patience. And to all my fellow publication heads, ad manager, and other HR people for their advice and positivity.
I’ll be graduating in less than a month and moving to another city to start my career in journalism. I promise this isn’t goodbye, but it’s a see you soon.
You’re in good hands, dear reader, the next EIC will be fantastic and make sure your stories will always be told the way they should; factually, honestly and, with empathy.
Lots of Love,
Tasha (Natasha) O’Neill
Nov. 2019-April 2021