A long overdue farewell to The Pitt News

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A long overdue farewell to The Pitt News

(Illustration by Jaime Viens | Contributing Editor)

(Illustration by Jaime Viens | Contributing Editor)

(Illustration by Jaime Viens | Contributing Editor)

(Illustration by Jaime Viens | Contributing Editor)

By Jaime Viens | Contributing Editor

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“This is an exploration of feminism by a somewhat educated, 19 year old liberal arts major.”

This is the first sentence I ever wrote in hopes of getting hired as a columnist for The Pitt News back in 2015. Somehow, it worked, though the words were rightfully never published until today.

It’s been over two years since I wrote that truly captivating lede — the critique for which I can only imagine would cite my lack of hyphenation in an age description according to Associated Press style. And in just another two weeks I’ll be graduating and saying goodbye to The Pitt News, and Pitt, for good.

Though I was hired back in 2015 to write for the opinions section, more recently, I’ve become the online engagement editor for the newspaper, a role with less writing and more responsibility. But, through all the posting on Facebook and Twitter — words that are viewed far more often and much more carefully than the columns I wrote previously — I still try to sneak in some writing whenever I get a chance.

You’d think that after summarizing entire articles in 140 characters I’d be better at getting to the point. But even after all those tweets and all those columns, when I sat down to write this one, my last one, I still didn’t know what angle to take. Should I rely on humor like I do in about half my columns or should I pretend to know what I’m talking about like I do in all my columns? Should I reference those long hours of work or should I talk about how I didn’t realize I got paid to write the entire first year I worked for the newspaper? Should I say it’s been strange to watch so many people I never even knew cycle through the office or say that some of the most talented and brightest people I’ve met in college work here?

And as I sat thinking about all these things I could say, a scary thought occurred to me. Through temporary housing, failed friendships, changing career paths and the closing of 7-Eleven, The Pitt News has somehow become the most stable part of my college career.

Since the early days when I fumbled to find my footing in groundbreaking arguments like “feminism is good,” to this morning when I scrambled to read all of today’s articles and schedule them on Facebook and Twitter before my 11 a.m. lecture, my time at The Pitt News has challenged me to grow as a writer, a student and a person.

For starters, I can now properly identify introductory phrases and insert commas accordingly (see beginning of this sentence for reference). I’ve also learned how to maximize productivity by writing columns like this in lectures as professors read directly from PowerPoints they’ve preemptively added to CourseWeb. I’ve learned the best way to be passive aggressive is as an anonymous otter on Google Docs, the best way to react to bad news is with a Ted Cruz sticker on Slack and the best way to feel good about my lack of journalistic capability is by reading one of the student tabloids.

But The Pitt News has also given me opportunities I would never have dreamed of. I got to profile inspirational acid attack survivors, made the front page of Reddit politics and managed a Twitter account with more than 17,000 followers. But I also got my own cubicle, was forced to memorize my social security number and befriended people who are sexually attracted to horror movie murderers. And through all these occasions, I’ve never encountered an unworthy feat.

Even Thursday night opinions section meetings, which gave me the perfect excuse to continue avoiding my social life, never felt like a burden. Amidst some heated arguments and many other lackluster conversations, I always felt supported in my own opinions.

From 30-second pitches that went something like, “Jill Stein is the worst,” to fully fledged essays with source-linked evidence, a dozen other students — some who agreed and some who respectfully yet violently shook their heads in disapproval — quietly let me share my thoughts.

And, luckily, in the two years since I originally wrote that lede about feminism, I’ve benefited from a staff that would never allow me to become complacent within a style of writing that took my own point of view for granted. Instead, I’ve been repeatedly pushed outside my comfort zone. I’ve been asked to conduct interviews, taught to manage my time and discouraged from using motherly disappointment as a punchline too often. And I’ve become better for it — at least I assure my mom I have.

And even though many of The Pitt News staffers might have a hard time recognizing me on the street, I’d like to believe my behind-the-screen duties and detached Facebook Live voice have paid off for the newspaper the same way sending that incredibly subtle lede to tpnopinions@gmail.com paid off for me.

Either way, I’m going to miss working at The Pitt News. Not just because I’m without job or home for the foreseeable future, but because it really has become such an integral part of my time at Pitt. And I’m not just saying all this because I get paid per character.

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