May 25, 2010

Solving Problems, Or at Least Trying

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I have been given a lot of advice during my tenure at The Sun — oxford commas are sacrilegious, prepositional phrases ought not to be separated in headlines and never head to The Sun without a cup of coffee. After being elected editor in chief, however, one nugget really stuck: Beware of that “what the fuck?” moment that hits you on your first night in the big office at 139 W. State St.This surely rang true. That unsettling moment hit me somewhere in the midst of the 127th editorial board’s kickoff Sunday edit meeting, writing my inaugural editorial, putting out that first front page … and then begrudgingly stumbling into Uris at 4 a.m. to begin studying for a prelim later that morning.Why was I here? What was I doing? How was I going to make this work?The truth is, that moment never really faded, even days, weeks or months into the job. I almost feel as if my time at The Sun has been defined by such moments — moments of sheer and utter perplexity when it felt as though the world was rotating at a different angle.Like the time when I was a freshman trudging through the snow up the hill from The Sun with a sprained ankle, telling myself I would never set foot in that office again.Or those brain-wrenching moments when a “journalistic integrity for dummies” guide would have been handy, but instead we figured it out on our own.Or those late nights when “Darwin,” “Duane” or “the bearded lady” — a few of Ithaca’s many eccentric personalities — wandered into the newsroom as if that was where they were supposed to be at 3 a.m.Or those mornings when my inbox filled with scores of angry e-mails, scolding me for what I had written in that day’s paper. Now, I know that just meant I was doing my job.I can’t say I ever really figured out what I was supposed to be doing, or had any way of knowing if what I was doing was right. I fumbled, I freaked out and I surely made some people angry. In the end, it’s hard to say that I felt any sense of closure. The unique thing about The Sun is that it moves too quickly to ever really take a step back and grasp all you have done.What I’ve come to realize since I’ve passed the torch is The Sun is all about the continuity that it provides. Generations of Sunnies before me faced the same predicaments that shaped my perception of life these past four years and most comforting is knowing that those to follow will do the same.Here’s to everyone who helped me find the answers:Ben, you were that stabilizing force that kept my life in check. To most, what we did was insane, but I wouldn’t have made it through any other way. Thanks for transforming my college experience and making the past two years the best years of my life. I love you.And, of course, Singer: There is nothing more humbling than when someone tells me that we are practically the same person — and I get that a lot. No one has had as great an influence on me over the past four years than you. Aside from teaching me how to be an editor you have been the greatest life coach and best friend. I owe all of my successes in part to you.I’ve said this before, Sammy, but you are the best editor I have ever worked with. You have the quirkiest, most creative mind, and your ability to innovate others is inspiring.To the 127th: Thanks for making everything so easy. The Sun was something new and exciting when we were at the helm and I will forever be inspired by the work we did together.Willi, Jasmine and Ben:  We were a news team of epic proportions. What a great ride.To the all stars, Deb, Meredith, Munier, Peter, Irene, Strat and Cara: Thanks for being my emotional support system. You all have bore witness to my breakdowns, my triumphs and, most importantly, really good times.Keenan and the 128th: You are blowing me away already. Keep it up.To my first board, the 126th: You all convinced me that The Sun was where I was meant to be. Aside from that, you guys became some of my best friends at Cornell.To my predecessors, Molly, Noah, Dave, Cory, Carol, Jenn:  Thanks for setting such a high standard for what The Sun should be. All of my work here is a testament to your awesomeness.Fink: Inscribed in my high school yearbook is a prophetic message: “At Cornell, find Erica Fink. You two will have a lot in common.” Thanks for everything, big chief.Schroeder: You have taught me more than any professor at Cornell has about grammar, newspaper production, rock and roll and everything in between.Mom and Dad: You were always there to listen, even when I’d let weeks go by without returning your e-mails or calls. Thanks for being The Sun’s number one fans.Amanda, Jennifer, Jessica, Amanda and Samantha: Thanks for putting up with my inexplicable bouts of absence the past few years and even more thanks for making me feel like I never missed a minute of anything.To The Sun: Thanks for being my education, my family, my home, my life for the past four years. The sunset walks down Buffalo and the feeling I got walking into the newsroom every night kept me sane. Thanks for the memories.To the Class of 2010: Thanks for making these past two months of freedom so incredible. Good luck to you all and congratulations.

Emily Cohn, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is the former Sun Editor in Chief. She may be reached at ecohn@cornellsun.com.

Original Author: Emily Cohn