This is the third in a three-part series by Alison Cies ’11 examining and explaining the inner workings of The Argus. Parts I and II were published on May 24 and May 29, respectively.
On many occasions, I have found that the campus community can be quick to criticize The Wesleyan Argus, despite knowing little about the process of producing it. How does a story translate from an idea to a publishable article? Who’s involved in this process, and how does it work? On the occasion of my last production night as executive editor of The Argus, here’s a brief overview of what goes in to producing “the nation’s oldest bi-weekly.”
Looking back on my four years on staff, a big part of what has kept me devoted to the newspaper (especially during the 35-hour work weeks as editor-in-chief) has been the community—a community of writers passionate about seeking out the news and telling stories in compelling ways. Despite facing a whole host of issues inherent in any news publication, we’ve also managed to conduct original, investigative research—we’ve broken stories that subsequently got picked up by The New York Times (see our coverage of Thomas Kannam; shed light on the University’s finances (see our coverage of divestment, AIG, and the endowment); demystified the comings and goings of faculty and administrators (such as our coverage of Professor Lemert’s leave); and produced a special edition covering the May 2008 Fountain Ave. incident in light of the mainstream media’s inherent biases). We’ve served and continue to serve as a voice of the student body and campus community, covering issues related to sexual assault, workers’ rights, and fire safety, among others. Even though I have spent much of my time as an editor, nothing beats reporting. My best memories of Wesleyan are running (literally) after administrators. Finding a story and pursuing it—it’s an exhilarating feeling. It’s a power you never knew you had.
In the back part of the office, there’s a file cabinet filled with bound copies of The Argus, beginning with its founding in 1868. On the same wall plastered with some of our most embarrassing headlines and quotes, we tacked up the following sentence from an issue of The Argus, written before our parents’ time: “Last Saturday at a Mardi Gras party at the Beta fraternity house, a physical situation arose, the nature of which there is some controversy about.” I can only hope that someday down the line, the stories we’ve written will similarly be posted on these walls, serving as a record of history—although, hopefully, a more detailed one.
Alison Cies ’11 is an Executive Editor and former Editor-in-Chief of The Argus.