May 21, 2017

BLAIR | How to Treat a Sunburn

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I originally joined The Sun because I wanted to be like Rory Gilmore. My grades weren’t good enough to get into Yale and I didn’t really think I wanted to be a journalist, but I loved the idea of gracefully racing around the newsroom, shouting commands as we struggled to meet a deadline, so I took what I could get and signed up to be a news writer.

Fast forward six months, and I am slumped in front of an oversized iMac, running on two hours of sleep, my hair unwashed and unbrushed, eating pizza for dinner for the fourth time that week, occasionally trading short, awkward exchanges with the other editors, silently combing through the first 19 years of my life to try and pinpoint the horrible mistake that had led me to this moment.

The thing is, being a journalist, at least in my limited experience, is 2 percent fast-paced laps around the newsroom and 98 percent staring at a computer screen, blinking furiously to try and keep your eyes from going dry. When you do your job correctly, no one is standing by to congratulate you. When you do your job incorrectly, sometimes people threaten to sue you. If you don’t want to lose your mind, you’ve gotta learn to love it as it is.

For my first few weeks as an editor, I kept my head down every night, just wishing the print deadline would come faster (and that we would meet it). Then, sometimes, after we had missed the last bus and had to walk back up the hill, I started to commiserate with the other news editors. It turns out that whining is a solid basis for strong, lasting friendships. Knowing the people I was working with were struggling as much as I was made each paper we sent to print seem like a battle won.

So, I came to realize: It’s often a horrible job. But, for a few minutes every night, you get to go to dinner with your friends, and that part is less horrible. Sometimes you get to take a half hour kava break, and that is lovely. And when you finally get home, bleary-eyed and dizzy, you sleep so much more soundly than you ever would have otherwise.

I joined The Sun not wanting to be a real journalist but kind of wanting to act like a TV journalist. Now, after dozens of stories written and hundreds of stories edited, I understand how unpoetic the profession is, but I sincerely want to join it. I learned to love it and then I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

This place has taught me to work through the grind, not because it’s always fun, but because we believe that putting out a paper is worth it. It has taught me that the pride of seeing our work in print is worth every minute of lost sleep. Most importantly, it has taught me to depend on the people around me, that most jobs worth doing are too big for one person and that the joy I get from being part of a team is far greater than the satisfaction I get from working alone.

Just before I sat down to write this column, I was standing in line at Gimme Coffee, wearing my Daily Sun crew neck, trying to think of a single memory to poetically summarize my Sun experience. The barista looked over at me and said “Hey, do you write for The Sun?

“Yeah,” I said.

He asked me if The Sun was printed in our office in Ithaca. I explained that we use a printer in Pennsylvania.

“Oh, cool,” he said.

So, I never gained Rory Gilmore’s reputation as a cunning voice for truth on campus. I never had the chance to deliver a The Newsroom-style soliloquy on the awesome power of an independent press. A pretty big portion of my job involved deleting Oxford commas from news stories. But, sometimes, I get to show off my knowledge of the inner-workings of The Sun to curious baristas, and I think that’s pretty cool too.

To Sofia and Gabriella, your patience and guidance was the only reason I ever got to the light at the end of the tunnel that was compet. Paulina, your sparkling wit made every night 10 times easier and you truly wrote the best teasers I have ever seen. Adam, I’m still not entirely sure what you did here, but I enjoyed smoking that blue-flavored cigar in the labyrinth. Rubin, thanks for sharing this on Facebook.

To all the writers and editors whose hard work and talent carried me every time I fell down on the job (134 news crew, looking at you), I am forever in your debt. Josh, you make me believe the future of The Sun is bright (Get it? Sun? ☀). Phoebe, if everything else had gone wrong, if all the people who threatened to sue had followed through, if we had continued to miss every deadline even after we found out there was a deadline, getting to be your friend and see you grow into such a strong leader and watch you take down Jesse Waters would have made it all worth it.

The Sun was the most grueling, trying, tiring, rewarding, wonderful thing that happened to me at Cornell. I will forever cherish the memory of every sleepless night because I spent them with all of you. Thank you.


Rebecca Blair is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She served as a senior editor on The Sun’s 134th editorial board and an assistant news editor on 133rd editorial board. This is a special edition of Thoughts from My Beanbag.