I never thought I'd say this, but I'm going to do something that Stephen Glass did. Glass, of course, is the former New Republic associate editor and uber-journalist who fabricated and embellished more than 30 stories for a host of national publications, which came to light in one of this summer's most horrifying media debacles. Like me, Glass was the executive editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. Back in 1993, he chose to write his "Farewell" in the first person, addressing you, the readers, not as a typical columnist, but rather in his capacity as DP executive editor. I plan to do the same. But the similarities end there. Especially ironic considering I've chosen his final column as a model for mine, I've grown to detest my predecessor, a young man I'd met but once over a year ago. Yet I spent a good chunk of my term dealing with the Glass affair. Journalists from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Vanity Fair and Mother Jones called me, all wondering if Glass fabricated stories and quotes while he was at the DP. Without a direct confession from Glass, we may never know for certain. But whatever the case, I assured everyone who asked that the DP is not a breeding ground for irresponsible journalism. Though I've always thought I've had a fairly strong moral compass, learning about what Glass did only made me care more about journalistic ethics. Living through the matter fundamentally impacted how I see the media and how I judge people. It also affirmed my belief in the importance of consistency and unswerving ethical standards. Though any executive editor's tenure is inherently quite stressful, Glass' year at the helm was probably even more nerve-wracking than mine. During Glass' term in 1993, nearly 14,000 copies of the DP -- almost our entire press run -- were stolen from distribution boxes across the campus by members of the self-described "Black Community." The DP's relationship with Penn's minority groups has improved markedly since then. At the very least, a strong line of communication exists. Fortunately, my year hasn't revolved around charges of institutional racism or a theft of our newspaper that was covered by the national media. All the same, I've had an eventful term -- one that has simultaneously pumped me full of energy, drained me emotionally and taught me a hell of a lot about the media and about people. On the draining side, the executive editor is the person staffers, readers and Penn community members approach with their concerns, problems and conflicts. And I'll tell you, as the one who is always supposed to remain rational and reveal little of my personal feelings, one of the toughest things has been watching my professional relationships infringe on my personal ones. That's just the nature of college journalism -- because we live in the same community we cover, we report on the people with whom we live, go out and work. Since this proximity often blurs the line between friend and source, one of my greatest challenges was guarding against bringing a personal agenda into the professional realm -- something I wholeheartedly believe to be unethical and something I would never do. Besides the ephemeral emotional pitfalls, I've had a good ride and a fulfilling experience. The DP won its second consecutive Pacemaker Award this year as one of the nation's top five college newspapers, and the Princeton Review named us the most-read college newspaper in America. Our reporting is better than ever, and our phenomenal business staff lifted the DP to a year of record profits. 34th Street has grown up beautifully, and The Daily Pennsylvanian Interactive can now stand on its own as an independent publication. More significant than playing a peripheral role in the Glass saga, working at the DP has taught me just how motivated and talented some people can be. Outside this windowless fortress at 4015 Walnut Street, in my capacity as executive editor, I've met some truly phenomenal, intelligent people -- particularly several student leaders and faculty members -- who have become some of my closest friends and confidantes. Inside this place, I've had the distinct pleasure of working with some of the brightest, hardest-working students at Penn -- from managers to photographers, editors to reporters, copy desk assistants to sales representatives. The list goes on and on. These are people who care deeply about Penn. These are people who give journalism a good name. I thank and genuinely respect all of my DP colleagues for their wonderful and tireless work. I'm quite fond of bottom lines, so I'll offer up this one: this job has been the most challenging, satisfying experience of my life. As an optimistic cynic, I've gained faith in the power of people and the power of the media to provoke thought and make change for the better. Over the past year, I hope we've instilled that faith in you.Comments powered by Disqus
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