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I have never been one for fanfare, but at this final moment, as my career at CU comes to a close, I can’t help but contribute to my beloved publication one last time.
For the past three years, I have dedicated my life to the University of Colorado at Boulder and its ridiculous set of ups and downs.
Even in the pomp and circumstance that is the timely exit of 2009’s seniors, I can’t help but pine for one more go.
I joined the paper in 2006 as a tech reporter and went on to become multimedia editor the next semester.
I was a managing editor when our great controversy hit, as the Campus Press, on that fateful February morning.
At that moment, after a fit of rage and a bout of crying, I sealed my fate with media.
I began to understand the true power of the written word. How a few thousand little letters can have such a massive impact.
Most college journalists barely understand the magnitude of what they can do and only when they screw up do they really see.
That moment forever burned in me the ferocity I have now. The world of journalism is a magnificent beast, steeped in necessity but drenched in resentment by the people we are sworn to represent.
People hate journalists and desire them simultaneously; the need for good journalism becomes greater as the world’s newspapers descend into oblivion.
Yet, at this moment, when I might be feeling a sense of dread that hundreds of young journalists just like me are flooding into a field with no future, I instead feel elation.
I am joyous at the fact that all that I have learned can finally be put to use. That I can finally take my tears and my blood and my hands and approach the failing mechanism that is modern journalism and form it like wet clay. Turn it into something stable and flexible like the future will dictate and need.
It is impossible for every generation of graduates to say that we changed the world. This time, I know we can.
I could not have transformed the Campus Press to the CU Independent by myself. I had a lot of great help.
To my professors, my mentors, my teachers and my friends: your lessons will not be forgotten.
To my enemies, and my enemies who have become my allies: what we have formed is something beyond professional. And I vow to uphold the ethics which so many journalists before me have decreed and followed.
To my former editors, reporters and photographers: be vigilant, and remember: what you do now will matter in the end. Do not falter and do not let forces more powerful than you take control of you. Journalism, in the end, is about being the watchdog. Never forget that.
As most good journalists know: anything they would say, someone else can usually say better, and in a tidy little quote.
I used to have a quote I would reference from Hunter S. Thompson that went something like “Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”
It reflected a very cynical attitude I had about the nature of journalism.
Recently, I changed that quote to something from every journalist’s hero, Edward R. Murrow, about the red scare and Senator McCarthy.
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular…We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”
So, my colleagues, at this moment I leave you, not with a message of absolute abandon, but an air of hope.
Do not desert this vessel we call journalism, it has not yet sunk.
Good night, my friends and a bit of luck.
Jason Bartz was CUIndependent.com’s Editor-in-Chief for the fall semester of 2008. He will be working for the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington D.C. this summer. You can follow Jason at his new blog, http://hea.dlin.es/, starting soon.