July 19, 2020

SIMS | As Seen on TV

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The best fictional dramatization of a newsroom is the 2012-2014 HBO series The Newsroom. The best dramatization of a newsroom, though, is the Sun office.

They have a lot in common: ringing phones, dry humor, hair-trigger reactivity, lots of take-out, late nights, more coffee, love-hating co-workers, excitement, frustration.

It’s regrettable that The Newsroom doesn’t have scenes about being late to a meeting because you were playing mini golf with the other editors or when you have an office slumber party and watch The Proposal. But their main characterizations about journalists — as seekers of goodness and truth, tireless and exhilarated workers and self-righteous investigators — mapped accurately to my time at The Sun.

The news is an exciting, and simple, proposition. If you can just find the relevant information and get it out to the people in a compelling way, you can make life better! It’s thrilling and addictive to believe in the direct and indisputable impact of reporting the news. Even joining The Sun to spout baseless opinions in the Arts section, playing a role in this great truth-seeking endeavor was inspiring.

I was in awe every day by the diligence and courage that went into every news story that The Sun published. I was also in awe, but in the scared way instead of the good way, every day, of the amount of work I had committed myself to doing as an editor of The Sun.

The Newsroom begins with an awful rant by the lead character, a reporter, who is disappointed that he can no longer rationalize American cultural supremacy, and finds an easy blame: the downfall of journalism. We know that transparency and public accountability is necessary to a functioning democracy, but in my time since editing The Sun, I feel like I have more questions than answers about how that can happen.

The assumptions, norms and values which a reporter brings (consciously or not) to a story will always change it. Plenty of people have argued to me that good reporters leave these biases behind when they are interviewing and writing. That’s a hopeful and impossible ideal, and the biases that are said not to exist are the most pernicious.

So if you can’t do objectivity, what do you do? I’m not sure, but holding on to the assertion that journalism is indisputably virtuous doesn’t help us find out.

While I know it is not all good, I am sure The Sun continues to better Cornell. And I am sure, no matter how acerbic my offhand comments about the workload are, I am better for my time spent at 139 West State Street.

I’m better for the most joyous group of friends you could have in Megan Roche ’19, Emma Williams ’19, and Brian LaPlaca ’18. I’m better for debates and discussions with Jacob Rubashkin ’19, with whom I learned more than most of my classes. I’m better for the five editors who succeeded me in my roles, whose perceptiveness and aptitude has blown me away.

I worked with dozens of other editors who were all astonishingly bright and conscientious, and dozens of writers whose reflections and analyses and knowledge changed the way I move through the world. It was a privilege to have a job working with such good people and reading such interesting writing.

Finally, there are many people outside of The Sun who do invaluable work to keep it running. Several friends of mine were particularly understanding of the weird time commitment and stresses of working on the paper, and I’m grateful for their patience and care. I am so appreciative of my parents, as well. My mom’s loving support has underlain everything, and I’m thankful for her propensity to stay up late enough for me to call her, sad or frustrated, when my pages were submitted for the night. I have been called a disappointment to my father twice in this paper, but all jokes aside, I am an apple fallen very close to the tree and my dad’s advice and encouragement has been unceasing.

To all of you, and for all of that, thank you.


Katie Sims is graduating from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She was a Senior Editor on The Sun’s 137th Editorial Board, Associate Editor on the 136th Editorial Board, and Art & Entertainment Editor on the 135th Editorial Board.