Zach Landau | Editor-in-Chief
I guess the beginning is a better place to start than any. Sophomore year, then-News Editor for The Duquesne Duke Kaye Burnet invited me to write reviews for the paper. Assured I would fit right in, I showed up one Tuesday night to be greeted by a raucous, accusatory “What makes you think you can write for me?” from former A&E Editor Sean Ray.
After my measured, meticulous response that my paranoid mind worked on all day was uttered, my formal introduction to the next three years of my life commenced. I started becoming a journalist that day.
Which is weird to say, but true. Once your name hits that byline, you have a reputation to maintain, rules to follow, integrity to cultivate. It’s hard, but fun, work, which is why I stuck to it — starting as a staff writer, then Assistant A&E Editor, A&E Editor and now Editor-in-Chief.
Through what can be generalized as two generations of Duke staff, students have encouraged an endearing sense of community. The folks that write for this paper care, and it was a privilege to work along with them.
And what a privilege it’s been. One of the main benefits to writing for the paper that I always try to impart upon incoming students is the ability to talk with all sorts of folks under the banner of journalism. Professors, students, administration, whomever, all very interesting and all very kind. It was a wonderful opportunity to tell stories of the great (and sometimes not-so-great) things this community has accomplished.
I resisted against writing this farewell column, however. What ultimately convinced me to forge ahead was being reprimanded by my mother. These farewell columns, she argued, act as litmus tests to gauge what campus was like during that changing of the guard. And she’s right (as she usually is).
So with that understanding, and with the understanding that I love you, Duquesne, let me just say we need to do better.
One of my “beats” here was march coverage. Off the top of my head, I can remember covering around five marches or protests, and at each one, I always struggled to find a Duquesne presence. A handful would show up here and there, but more often than not, I saw the same three to four faces again and again.
And, if I’m being honest, that really hurt. I want to believe in the promise of Duquesne. I want to believe that we care about issues that have an impact on the world out there.
But when strangers give you the side-eye for mentioning you’re from Duquesne’s student paper, as if to ask, “Why are you here?” I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting my time. And according to the stats we have, I more-or-less did.
This isn’t a pity-me column, by the way. I couldn’t care less about our viewership count, and I know this will come as a shock to everyone who has accused us of clickbait throughout the years: Most people don’t care, either.
What I’m trying to say here is something that has been on my mind since I stepped through the door to College Hall 113: We need to do better. Students need to be more involved.
The apparent apathy of the student body creates an almost overwhelming silence. Save for a handful of laudable, fantastic students, I cannot say with confidence that Duquesne’s students care about anything. I’m not immune to this. There have been many an opportunity for me to do more, and I fully acknowledge that fact.
Being Editor-in-Chief, however, was a fantastic opportunity to try and do better, and I couldn’t have done it without my staff and my mentors. Also every faculty member who took the risk in hiring me is braver than most people I know, and I appreciate it to no end.
I just hope that long after I graduate, Duquesne does do better. And I hope that The Duke is there with them, leading the charge by providing the same exceptional journalism that I have come to expect.
And that’s all she wrote.