Last Words

Nick and Seb say goodbye to The Journal

Staff of Queen's Journal, Volume 146.
Photo: 

Nick Pearce, Editor in Chief

This must be some mistake. 

Four years ago, I was making anxious laps around University Avenue because I left for my first Journal job interview an hour early. Jittery and nervous, I thought I bombed it. The phone call offering me a job a few days later still hasn't sunk in. 

With only a few concert reviews under my belt, my first editors gave me a page every Thursday and permission to write anything I wanted, given some significant editing. There’d never been a luckier or more hapless 19 year old. 

Every week since, the knotted, joyful stress of deadlines and sleep deprivation on a Journal press day meant more to me than any class I’d half-slept through the next morning. 

Sebastian and Anisa, thank you. For all the times I fell flat on my face and assumed I was soon-to-be fired, I always had a fresh page the next week. I’ll keep working until I earn that. I can’t thank you enough for the chance you took on me and your constant patience fielding panicked calls and texts this year.

Every year, thirty or so students give hours upon hours of their lives to a dingy house on University Avenue. Most of them don’t have any journalism experience and are tackling a laundry list of personal challenges, and are paid pennies on the hour.

Every year, they come in, learn, and cover the Queen’s community with all the heart and passion they can muster. 

My co-editor Seb and I had the grittiest, most talented staff you can imagine. They’ve dealt with everything you can name and the stories coming across my desk are simply too good for students in their first years of journalism. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that enough, Volume 146. 

This year, their commitment saw them top a million online views and weather the worst of the Student Choice Initiative’s corrosive effect on campus press and free speech.

They covered sexual violence and kept the province accountable when it failed to release the numbers detailing its epidemic on our campuses. They wrote heart-warming tributes to metal shows and covered memes that turned into performance art. They gave a platform for students, chronicled resurgent hockey teams, investigated animal testing, challenged institutional discrimination, and stood up when they needed to.

To Volume 146, you deserve more than 800 words. 

Through all of this, Seb and I had the best examples a pair of editors could ask for.

Joe and Meg, you are two of the kindest, most nurturing people I’ve met. You set the standard as leaders and your patient advice is going to keep this place around for another 146 years.

You left a blueprint of how to lead a group of students and turn them into a family. For any future editors reading this, your first right decision should be calling these two. Thank you—I hope the rush never wears off.

The tired guy sharing that gratitude is my embattled co-editor, who’s probably polishing off a cigarette and a conversation on the porch of the Journal House as I write this.

Seb, you’re the only one that could talk me into running a print media outlet in 2019. After doing so, you still had the unenviable job of convincing me again and again that we could make it. All through it, I watched your personality and talent rub off on anyone that wandered into your office. They grew to love you and I’m proud I could be there for it. 

I won’t burn too many inches of newsprint on a goodbye I don’t plan on making. We’re stuck together, pal—you’re a brother to me.

Morgan, visiting your office was the sanest part of my day. This newspaper scraped by on your resilience, brains and uncanny ability to sell ad space in a digital age. You were an unwavering friend that grounded every surprise. We’ll do another Morgan Appreciation Dinner before we call it quits. Promise.

Finally, Meredith and Iain, it’s all yours. The stains on the floors don’t come out, the basement’s haunted, and I wish you the best on the cracked windows. From this house, you’ll lead a ragtag group of students and tell a campus’ story like I know you can. 

When you question yourselves, the readers will keep you honest. When it gets too tough, your friends and family will give you love and a reality check, like mine did. 

The world’s coming your way—remember to smile. Before too long, all the stress will be fading away and you’ll be thinking of your first moments in a cavernous house, and everyone that called it home afterwards. 

Nick’s ready to head home. 

Sebastian Bron, Editor in Chief

In January of 2016, muzzy off a back-to-school induced hangover, I got an email. 

It was from The Journal’s then-Editors in Chief, asking whether, after inquiring over a contributing position in the fall, I’d still be interested in writing for the paper. 

I questioned myself, as I’d often done in my early university experience. My mind raced aloud—two close friends acting as recipients to my incessant self-doubt and indecisiveness.

The second-year who looked in all corners for a creative outlet during frosh week seemed a ways away.

“What’s there to lose?” one asked. And from there, my life would never be the same. 

Three years and some change since penning my first article for The Journal, there proved to be much to lose. Sleep, for one. A social life. At times, my sanity. 

But where there is loss, there, too, is gain. Aplenty of it. Lasting friendships, laughs so uncontrollable and unrelenting your abdominals ache, the unparalleled emotion of seeing your first byline in print. 

A passion for telling stories that matter, a crippling caffeine addiction, a purpose. 

Home, they say, is where the heart is. In the months and years since I received that email, I found home. It’s in a paint chipped house that stands on its last legs, where a group of 20-somethings as quirky and weird as yourself devote their formative years to something bigger.

Home, I say and think and feel and know, is on 190 University Avenue.

Sitting in my office bleary-eyed, dozens of coffee cups occupying every last inch of my desk, I can only hope those whom I’ve had the privilege of leading this year feel similarly to The Journal as I do. As a place of solace and family. As a base camp for anything Queen’s-related. As the bridge for where the uncertain meets the certain, both in the personal and professional.

To my staff, I’m at a loss. You’ve surpassed my every expectation. Seeing each and every one of you grow this year will live with me for the rest of my life. You made every word in this paper, every passing issue and story, all the more worth it.  In the heat of a volume, what is obvious often goes unsaid. Remember that for every late press night, for every hour you’ve poured into your work, you’ve made a difference on this campus. At the very least, you’ve made me a better person. Thank you for placing your trust in me. Serving as your Editor in Chief is an honour I will forever cherish.  

To Joe and Meg, without you, my attachment to this paper wouldn’t be possible. Thank you for taking a chance on me. Your unwavering support and guidance has given me a foundation for which I can start my life and career. Know that your help has been behind every paper and story published this year. 

To my dear parents, Fabian and Judith. We’re nearing two decades since boarding that plane in Buenos Aires and making way for Ottawa.  You left everything you’ve ever known—family, friends, work, life—for your two boys. Not a day goes by without thinking of the astronomical sacrifice you’ve made for Nico and I. Thank you for letting me chase my dreams. I hope I’m making you proud.

To Nate and Mitch, you told me there was nothing to lose. There wasn’t. 

To my friends, both near and far, I don’t want to know where I’d be without you. For every success any given person experiences, there’s a group behind them pushing their every move to keep going and do better. That was you. 

Thank you for riding with me through this journey we call life. Just wait on it.  

To Nick, we did it, man. Remember when I pitched you the idea of running after alumni day in 145? Feels like yesterday. Time flies. When you’re having fun or wallowing in misery, it flies. And I wouldn’t have rather it fly by me without anyone but you. Thank you for being a floating rock in a sea of worry—and introducing me to James Ready. Let’s keep going.

To Morgan, you kept this place afloat. We’d be out of business if not for your drive to see us print every week. For that, I’m eternally grateful.

To Meredith and Iain, get ready for a helluva ride. There will be times next year you’ll question why you’ve sold your soul to The Journal. Remember there’s been 146 years of editors who’ve felt the same and saw it through to the other side. Remember why you decided to do it in the first place.  And remember to stop every once in a while and soak it in—in the blink of an eye, you’ll be writing your last words and think back to reading these. Ahead of you are the most rewarding months of your life. Enjoy them. 

If I can give you any piece of advice, it’s that subtle pleasures outweigh overwhelming pains. Don’t mind the missed deadlines or the painstaking corrections. Mind the smile you’ll don every Friday morning, seeing that classic Journal blue grace every newsstand on campus. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose. 

Seb is ready to keep living.

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