Schulman: It was the okayest of times, it was the worst of times

Carly Schulman, Senior Staffer

Graduation Issue 2022

The Daily is unlike any other organization on campus — for better and for worse.

This newspaper has been a truly transformative and enriching experience, and made me a better journalist and designer. But it’s also continuously made me question my skills and validity.

I joined the Daily after transferring to Northwestern in fall 2019. I stumbled upon the table at the Student Organizations Fair, and the word “design” caught my eye at The Daily’s booth. My main goal for my first quarter at NU was to find a way to get involved in something creative, so I decided to take a leap of faith and show up to the first Daily meeting of the quarter.

Surrounded by overeager freshmen ready to be reporters, I immediately felt out of place on the third floor of Norris University Center. However, my desperation to find a way to be involved at my new school pushed me into the design room, a place in which I never expected to spend hundreds of hours throughout my time at NU.

I also quickly realized these people that had once intimidated me with their reporting knowledge were no different than me, giving me the confidence to try out the introductory journalism classes and eventually declare a journalism major.

I eventually worked my way up the ranks, becoming design editor during the pandemic when we were tasked with replacing photos with illustrations each night — an indescribably daunting feat. I’m so proud of the work we put out during this time, but the hours of unrecognized labor beat me to a pulp.

Despite my qualms with the paper, there were a few things that made me stay: the sense of belonging, the people at the paper who recognized my hard work, the Dum Dums in the newsroom and most of all my co-editor, Emma Ruck.

During the worst months pandemic, we spent an average of eight hours together each print night, poring over word counts, InDesign layouts and last-minute illustration requests. Emma became one of my best friends, and even with the frustrations of our work, these nights became some of my most cherished memories at college.

Although we spent hours upon hours making the newspaper from scratch each night, it was hard not to feel underappreciated. I can’t count the amount of times we stayed up past 3 a.m. finalizing details, walking back from the newsroom in the middle of the night after exhausting shifts.

We rarely received any recognition for our hard work. Reporting was valued above all else, and the culture at The Daily often made me feel subordinate. This sentiment may not be universal across the newsroom, but I truly believe that design is the heartbeat of a newspaper, and should be treated as so.

My hope for the future is that the design desk continues to grow and evolve, and that the rest of the newsroom can recognize and appreciate the efforts of The Daily’s designers.

In addition to my time as a designer, I wrote a whopping total of four stories and spent a whirlwind of a quarter as a football photographer for gameday. I am sincerely grateful for the memories I made at The Daily, such as shooting games at college football’s most iconic stadiums and meeting so many wonderful people over the years.

Three years ago, I never could have anticipated the impact the Daily would have on my life. It changed the course of my entire academic career and perspective on design. This paper has truly brought me to my knees, but it’s made me into who I am today — and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @scharlyculman