Last Words

The Journal staff, Volume 131 - 2003/2004
The Journal staff, Volume 131 - 2003/2004

For all the students who’ve ever had to walk into the Journal for the first time to talk to a reporter or place an ad, I offer my apologies. I remember the first time I ever stepped into 272 Earl Street. It took a lot of courage to even think about going inside, not knowing what lurked beyond.

When I walked in that October afternoon three years ago, I found a room full of reporters typing away at a bank of computers and an imposing receptionist’s desk staring me in the face. It scared the hell out of me then, and I wonder if it scares other people now.

Having become one of those reporters, I’ve gleaned a couple of insights about the Journal. For example, most people use the Journal not so much as a vital source of campus news and views, but rather as a twice-weekly source of in-class crosswords. Sometimes I wish the puzzle-solvers would take a look through the other pages of the paper, find something of interest and start really reading the paper. I’d like to think we managed to convert a couple of you.

And what a year to actually start reading the Journal. If you were one of those people who never really bothered to peruse our pages, here’s a taste of what you missed: Alfie’s delaying its opening date, then closing for the year shortly thereafter; the heartbreaking semifinal loss that extinguished the hopes of the Gaels football team; a narrowly-averted strike that threatened to throw the campus into chaos; an AMS election that had more overtime periods than a cat has lives.

To all the people we may have wronged: I hope you don’t have any hard feelings. It’s a hard thing to say during the year, when you feel as though you’re always under the microscope, but we do indeed make mistakes. Quite a few, in fact. I hope our failings, perceived and real, haven’t caused you too much trouble. To all the people who wanted us to cover their event or print their letter, but never got the satisfaction, I apologize. A lot of interesting stories and issues fall through the cracks simply because we can only do so much with the resources we have. It’s not an excuse; it’s a lamentation.

To the editorial and business staffs of volume 131, I tip my hat to you. This paper could not be produced without the heart and soul you put into its publication every week, and the crazy family we formed this year is one I’ll never forget. One of my greatest pleasures this year was seeing you all grow into the writers, reporters and photographers you are now. I’m glad to have played my small role in all of your lives.

To Karen, Roger, Fred and Linda at Thousand Islands: working with you has been nothing but a pleasure, even if we’ve been somewhat tardy on occasion. To Gabriele King, the woman behind the imposing receptionist’s desk: I’ve never known an individual who was more protective and loving of a bunch of filthy-mouthed, poorly-fed university students as you are. I’ll never forget you, and I hope you never forget me.

Sarah, I remember the night you walked into the Journal house and agreed to be my partner in crime—it sent shivers down my spine. I remember the first fight we had. Most of all, I remember the one night you cheered me up with hot chocolate and some kind words of encouragement. As a co-editor-in-chief, you’ve been supportive in all the right ways, a fantastic wordsmith with a nose for news and a ball-breaker whenever I should have been but couldn’t be. I’ll miss you most of all.

Finally, dear reader, a few words of advice. Always question everything you read, write letters to the editors, and remember not to take life—or the Journal—too seriously. Say good night, Gracie.

Wesley Fok is running away to join the circus.

This is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to write. I feel as if I’m about to lose someone very close to me, and I guess that’s because I am. The Journal has been the very best thing in my life for the past two years. It has changed me, it has become a part of me, and sitting here, I know how true this is for so many of the students who work here.

Last May, as I sat on a lawn chair in my backyard and read former Journal editors’ transition reports, I hardly had any idea what I was getting myself into. Among the advice was this: The relationship with the AMS is often strained. If all else fails, just scream editorial autonomy until you’re blue in the face.

How true that is.

Like so many other years, our relationship with the AMS has sometimes been tense. I know it’s the nature of the game; our coverage is sometimes quite critical and it doesn’t always go over very well. This year, when we felt our autonomy was challenged and current and former Journal staffers stepped up, wrote letters of support and fought back, I realized how much bigger the Journal is than any one of us. We occupy a unique space on campus, and we try hard to offer responsible, accurate and timely coverage of campus events.

Although the Journal’s finances since Sept. 11 have been weakened, I think it’s time the Journal develops a long-term plan to go independent. It can’t happen overnight; it needs to be a five, or six, or 10-year plan. An independent press is in the best interests of the Queen’s community and financial autonomy can only add to the Journal’s sense of independence.

To the Journal readers: you have kept us on our toes all year and made our jobs worthwhile. When I see you on campus flipping through our pages, I have to admit I feel proud to have been a part of its production. Please keep writing letters and questioning us. Your feedback is an important part of the process and helps us improve our product.

And although this paper is for our readers, this page is for the editors, staff writers, contributors, business staff and photographers at the Journal who sacrificed sleep, school work, proper meals and time with friends and family to put together this paper. Journalites are a particular breed of people. They’re hard-working, dedicated, resilient and selfless students and they make this paper what it is. I have never been so impressed by a group of people as I have been by our staff this year. Wesley and I could not have chosen a better team. We asked a lot of you this year, and you more than delivered. You were stars. Knowing that we will soon go our separate ways saddens me. When the AMS election results were delayed and we spent 36 sleepless hours at the Journal (practically turning into a daily!), I was so honoured to know all of you.

Gabriele King, you are one of the most modest people I know, but you deserve my thanks here, so you’re getting it! When you brought me a smiley face cookie after a particularly difficult day, you touched my heart. The Journal could not be what it is without your tireless efforts, and I could not have survived this year without your support.

And finally, to Wesley, my co-editor-in-chief and ally, but most of all my friend: I consider myself so lucky to have shared this position with you. Your humour, compassion, generosity and dedication wowed and inspired me on a daily basis. I could not have done this without you, and even though you’ll only be a phone call away next year, it just won’t ever be the same. Thank you, Wes, for everything.

I know we misspell people’s names, don’t always provide the right crossword clues and don’t cover every event worthy of coverage, but we work hard, we love doing it and for those of us moving on, we’re sure going to miss it.

Sarah Hammond plans to ride into the sunset, diploma in one hand and directions to Disneyland in the other.

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