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Friday, Aug 19, 2022

Notes from the Desk: 272 Pages

An Editor’s goodbye to the print paper that she loves

I’ve always been sentimental about paper. I keep every ticket stub and playbill and program and letter I get. I wrote about my attachment to print when I oversaw the production of our magazine, A Year In, last spring, and I thought about it a lot in The Campus’ more than a year and a half with no print newspaper. 

We returned to printing last September. I sat down to do the math recently and figured out that during my tenure as the Editor in Chief, I’ve overseen 272 pages across 23 print issues of the paper, including this one you’re holding right now (sorry online readers). That’s not including the 120 pages of our magazine, or the hundreds of pages of papers I’ve worked on since I started on The Campus as a first year. 

Those first 12 pages, after a year and a half of not printing, were a challenge. I finalized them in the FIC, hunched over from severe, mysterious abdominal pain. Even after invoking a one-hour emergency extension for our deadline to get the paper to the printer, I still turned it in 15 minutes late.

It got easier from there. The next 48 pages included stories of our over-enrolled campus, life at Bread Loaf and the renaming of the Chapel. Pages 73 and 77 contained our years-in-the-making reporting on claims of labor abuses and stolen wages as the college-partnered Goodrich Family Farm (written by my frequent collaborator Jake Gaughan). The next hundreds of pages contain the work of hundreds of writers, editors, photographers and artists, and quotes from thousands in our community. 

As the year went on, we experienced easy weeks and hard weeks, special issues and not so special ones. Pages 157 through 168 contained a culmination of our ongoing efforts to highlight staff voices and issues in our coverage, especially in a time of such severe understaffing and low wages. A week later, we were only able to put out eight pages when half of the people on our staff had Covid, as did half of the writers; we still eked out an issue with four news pieces and some really big photos. Pages 249 through 252 contained the results of our Zeitgeist student body survey, led masterfully by one of our incoming managing editors, Tony Sjodin. 

Twenty-three of the 272 pages include editorials, based on discussions by our Board thoughtfully overseen and compiled by our Editorial Board Director Lily Laesch each week. Twenty-two pages include colorful photo essays, a new and inventive edition to our paper this year, courtesy of our Multimedia team. And the last 12 pages, well, that’s this issue. As I handed off the heavy editing load to my successor, Abbie Chang, I got to write a couple of articles myself — something rare in my time at the helm of the paper — including my first ever sports article (You can find it on page 11 of the paper this week. Let me know if I did alright.)

And that’s 272. As I thumb through the pages, getting ink all over my fingers in the process, it dawns on me that these 272 pages of thin, easily rippable paper are the thing I’m proudest of from my time at Middlebury. 

I owe my biggest thanks for what we accomplished this year to every member of our staff, from writers to editors and everyone in between, and most of all to my managing editors: Lucy Townend, who is graduating and heading off to do great things, and Abbie Chang, who will serve as this paper’s next editor in chief and will undoubtedly do an incredible job. For every hour we’ve spent in a meeting or working together, we’ve spent even more hours together voluntarily (which is wild considering just how many hours we’ve spent in meetings and working together). 

The funniest thing is that, at least for the time being, these actually might be my last pages. As I leave Middlebury for a job as a radio reporter, I get to abandon making meticulous small changes to Adobe InDesign files in the early hours of the morning and stressing about either fitting the whole paper into 12 pages, or filling those 12 pages up. But the nice thing about paper is that it sticks around — on the counters of our office, in the college’s Special Collections library and, surely, on the shelves of all of my future homes. 

Riley Board '22 was this year's editor in chief of The Campus.


Riley Board

Riley Board '22 is the Editor in Chief of The Campus. She  previously served as a Managing Editor, News Editor, Arts &  Academics Editor and writer.

She is majoring in Linguistics as an Independent Scholar and is an English minor on the Creative Writing Track.

Board has worked as a writer at Smithsonian Folklife Magazine and as a  reporter for The Burlington Free Press. Currently, she is a 2021-2022  Kellogg Fellow working on her linguistics thesis. In her free time, you  can find her roller skating in E-Lot or watching the same sitcoms over  and over again.


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