Gutierrez: Goodbye, for real this time

Pallas Gutierrez, Opinion Editor

In June, I wrote my first goodbye letter while I was assistant opinion editor. I wrote about the tension between theatre and journalism and how that might contribute to my decision of not coming back.

Clearly I was wrong. This September I reintroduced myself as opinion co-editor. As my personal goal I said, “I look forward to spending this quarter improving the diversity of voices represented in the Opinion section.” However, there was nothing that could have prepared me for this quarter.

I received more hate mail than I ever have this quarter, and it was exhausting. I woke up one morning to 50 unread emails, all from angry readers and alumni. I got emails from people old enough to be my grandparents calling me incompetent.

This was not what I expected when I agreed to be an editor this quarter. There was a week when the only thing on my mind was The Daily, and it was driving me to tears. I barely had mental space for my classes, let alone my other extracurriculars. That wasn’t what I wanted when I agreed to come back.

Despite all that, I’m glad I returned to the Opinion desk this quarter.

I learned a lot about myself and journalism. I learned about the role of empathy in journalism, the work of putting together a daily newspaper and the toll it takes on the editors and reporters who do it. I worked on finding and nurturing diverse content and communicating with co-workers. I learned more about the intricacies of each desk. I found that I didn’t care as much about hard-hitting news, as I did about telling the stories that once were ignored. Most of all, I learned how much I respect the editors and reporters who find new stories that we aren’t telling, go into the world to interview people and then force us to pay attention.

I have grown closer to my fellow editors and assistant editors, most of whom are people I never would have met outside of The Daily. A few members of the editorial staff here are some of the best friends I’ve made at Northwestern. I sit with them at lunch, high five them when we pass on Sheridan Road and have long conversations with them about anything from the Yankees chances at the World Series to the interweaving of neoliberalism and feminism. My best memories of The Daily are about the people: sitting in the EIC office and drawing on the whiteboard, checking in with the multimedia and design teams in their separate office while searching for a blue raspberry lollipop, crouching over a laptop to order Chipotle before the coupon expired on a night that we would be in the newsroom until past midnight. Even if I don’t go into journalism (which I probably won’t) or don’t take on high-level positions at The Daily, those memories are among my favorites of my first year and a quarter at Northwestern.

As my role at The Daily changes, I hope my relationships with those people will not.

I’m leaving opinion, for real this time. I had not planned on being here this quarter, and at the beginning of this quarter I certainly didn’t plan on sticking around any longer. I’m exhausted. People will remind me that I signed up for this job. I signed up to edit the Opinion section in order to elevate systematically silenced voices. But I never expected or agreed to receive 25 emails condemning our paper in one morning.

I’m tired. Even if I had planned on doing this job again, I would not have the energy.

I think I’ll stay at The Daily though. I’ll find something to do. Maybe I’ll be a sports reporter, or arts and entertainment. Maybe I’ll take a quarter off and come back in the spring. I love it here, I really do. I think student journalism is incredibly important, and the Opinion desk’s power to uplift voices is much larger than people give it credit for. I hope that dedicated people continue to run this desk and write for it.

I wish the next opinion editor (or editors) a great quarter. I wish The Daily staff at large a great quarter. I hope that student journalists both here and at other schools keep doing great work that enriches their campus and expresses their point of view.

Pallas Gutierrez is a Communication sophomore. They can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.