July 8, 2020

REYNOLDS | A Girl, a Newspaper, a Voice

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As I reflect on my time at Cornell, The Sun will shine brightly as one of my most lasting and positive experiences. Not because it jump started my career as a journalist or gave me the thrill of seeing my name attached to a published piece, not because it allowed me to speak to science luminaries like Steve Squyres or Carla Gomez (although I covet the audio recordings of our interviews), but because I got to work with and learn from a talented team of passionate writers, reporters and friends.

Working as a writer and editor for The Sun primarily taught me about journalism, but it also taught me about myself (cheesy, I know). Ultimately, it solidified my long-held appreciation for good writing and reporting.

What I learned about journalism, through my time at the Sun, is reflected in the words of author John Irving — “Before you can write anything, you have to notice something.” It is the responsibility of a journalist to report on what is noticed and, importantly, what people fail to notice. It is an intrepid pursuit to make the unnoticed, known, to make it glaringly obvious, even.

Of course, the Sun dutifully covers big news, campus and global crises, but also that which is nuanced yet nonetheless noteworthy. Countless times I found myself re-evaluating my thoughts on matters published about in the Opinion section, not because I have a deference to the opinions of my fellow-writers, but because the ideas they put onto paper are beautifully articulated and, to me, novel.

As the Science editor, I stick to objective reporting, to communicate what is already scientifically determined to be true, but every morning as I sip my coffee and scroll through The Cornell Daily Sun, I am awestruck by the diverse and unapologetic voices of the Sun community, and I am reminded of how lucky I am to be surrounded by brilliantly opinionated minds.

Journalism has the power to rewrite the narrative, to change people’s perspectives and communicate truths that they may never before have considered. It turns long nights at the office into noble ventures and makes the repeated eliminations of oxford commas heroic. I am grateful to have been a part of this grand calling, and I am honored to have been surrounded by those who do notice and have the courage to report, support, negate or expose.

Courage is something that I usually find myself to be lacking. I admit, I am a self-conscious person, especially when it comes to writing. That is the reason I joined the Sun in the first place – so I could absorb the best qualities in the authors and journalists around me as a way to improve myself. And I can proudly say, after three years with The Sun, I have done just that.

My first Sun-inspired bout of courage came when I faced Jacob Rubashkin ‘19, then Editor-in-Chief of an organization which I was among the lowest echelon, in an attempt to amend election law and allow for the appointment of two science editors. With newfound confidence and a humorous yet convincing powerpoint, I succeeded, thus marking the first time The Sun helped me find my voice.

I began to notice things too – Cornell’s many successful women in science, professors and Nobel laureates who have gone uncelebrated. I authored a piece for International Women’s Day, spotlighting their research and showcasing the many impactful contributions they have imparted upon the university and the world. Following its publication, we incorporated increased coverage of Cornell women in research in the Science section and have reported on International Women’s Day ever since. It was a single article, but my proudest article, maybe even the magnum opus of my time at The Sun.

However, I attribute my proudest moments to those around me, who I sought to emulate: Shriya Perati ’21, the science section co-editor who shares my passion for science and writing and who helped me create and present the fateful powerpoint, Sarah Skinner ’21, The Sun’s managing editor who fixed my terrible leads when I first started reporting, and whose writing I frequently took inspiration from, among many others who have made the idea of journalism glamorous and valiant.

As my time at The Sun dips below the horizon, I will take with me an enduring love for writing, reading the writing of others and the courage to share my voice, thanks to the wonderful humans and authors I met at The Cornell Daily Sun.


Sophie Reynolds is graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was a Science Editor on The Sun’s 137th Editorial Board.