Burakoff: Meet me at Norris

Maddie Burakoff, Daily Senior Staffer

Graduation Issue

I never knew how much I could miss a cramped, poorly ventilated, harshly lit office space in the least convenient corner of Norris. Until I was abruptly plucked from campus and dropped into the most socially isolating few months of my young life. That is to say — until now.

Those of you who have seen the Daily newsroom know it isn’t glamorous. It amounts to a few long white tables, some semi-functional desktop computers and a random collection of swivel chairs; the walls are plastered with inside jokes and Dum-Dum wrappers (which are their own kind of inside joke). Still, for much of my college life, that place felt a lot like home.

I came into Northwestern unsure about my major, my career path or my place on campus. I joined The Daily thinking it would be a fun extracurricular. Soon enough, I found myself all-in on The Daily and on journalism: spending my days running around campus to find sources, spending my nights in the newsroom poring over ledes and headlines, Tweets and layouts.

I dedicated a huge portion of my life to The Daily because I loved being part of something that felt really meaningful, and I also loved being surrounded by brilliant and dedicated people — many of whom became my closest friends. For a time, the newsroom was the one place at Northwestern I could go to and know I’d find a familiar face.

When we spent long hours in Norris, we worked hard and we took our publication seriously; we had difficult conversations and maybe shed a few tears in the 24-hour stairwell. We also gave each other life advice and laughed a lot and blasted Lizzo at 3 a.m. and watched the sun rise over the Lakefill.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the simple magic of shared space. For those of us lucky enough to have the means, the past few months have meant a lot of hours spent at home, keeping to ourselves in order to keep our communities healthy. Personally, I’ve just started a new job remotely and will soon graduate remotely, after spending my senior spring learning, chatting and Dillo-ing remotely.

A lot can be accomplished from a distance, and the current editors and writers at The Daily — like their fellow journalists all over the world — have adapted to keep producing great work in “these unprecedented times.” But a Zoom call can’t hope to capture all the idiosyncrasies of a night in the newsroom: the slightly delirious late-night conversations, the creative give-and-take, the shared drive to produce valuable work.

So how do you measure the output of approximately two billion hours spent in the newsroom? In eight to 12 pages per night of hard-earned stories and photos? In more Flaming Hot Cheetos and Norbucks Pink Drinks than our guts knew how to handle? In camera rolls filled up with dumb selfies and improbable nap spots?

For me, giving all that time to the newsroom gave me a lot in return. I now have work I’m really proud of, lifelong friendships and a huge well of weird memories that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. And because of that, I can’t regret a minute.