From crime and sexual assault to racism and hate, journalists are often tasked with confronting these issues head-on.
Over the past four years, I’ve seen first-hand the destruction left in the wake of an EF4 tornado. I’ve confronted white supremacists and covered trials with testimony so gruesome and disturbing that it wasn’t fit to print.
But through all of that, my love for Auburn and my love for this community has never wavered. That’s because I’ve seen far more good than bad.
Residents so passionate about their community that they sit through hours-long City Council meetings twice a month. Organizations committed to making Auburn a better place. Students fighting through hardship to accomplish their goals. The people of Auburn picking up their neighbors after a horrendous tragedy.
While everything else can look bleak, the goodness of people is what you see the most. That’s what I will remember about Auburn — a community made up of good people, people with flaws, but good people nonetheless.
This issue marks my last at The Auburn Plainsman. Typing those words brings a tear to my eye because this has been an experience that taught me as much about people as it did about journalism.
If you ever decide to walk down the newspaper-lined hallway in the windowless bowels of the Student Center into the newsroom of The Plainsman, you’ll notice a few things.
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The first is all of the newspapers. Shocking right? The next thing that might stick out to you is the clutter or the awards. But after that, you’re bound to notice all of the people.
Reporters, writers, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, editors.
One will probably perk up if you walk through the door.
If you happen to be a student interested in working for the newspaper, one of the first things the folks at The Plainsman will tell you is something along these lines: “This isn’t a club. This is a real newspaper.”
I still remember hearing something like that when I walked into this same office as an awkward freshman majoring in wireless software engineering.
Throughout these past four years, that sentiment — one not meant to diss other clubs but instead meant to highlight the intense commitment the student-journalists at The Plainsman have to Auburn — is what has stuck with me.
The Plainsman, though, is much more than a newspaper or a student organization. It’s a breeding ground for journalists, writers, historians and the occasional doctor.
It’s a support group. It’s an embodiment of the First Amendment. And perhaps most importantly, it’s a family.
When I walked into this office approximately 120 issues ago, I could have never imagined what The Plainsman would do for me. I was a naive teenager with no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
The Plainsman fixed all of that, and so much more. It brought me out of my shell. It introduced me to ideas that I would have never encountered had I not stuck around. It introduced me to the best friends I may ever have.
By the spring semester of my freshman year, I’d changed my major. I wanted to be a journalist. I saw the work done at The Plainsman, and I knew it’s what I wanted to do with my life.
The past four years have not always been easy though. Working at a newspaper every week is a tiresome and often thankless job.
I’ve taken more angry calls than I have kind ones. These past two years as editor, I’ve stared down massive budget problems that could have ended this 125-year-old tradition.
I’ve spent far more sleepless nights worrying about the words going into the 12 pages of this broadsheet than I have worried about my classes.
But it’s all been worth it.
It’s been worth it because I know that when I walk out this door for the last time, this paper will live on.
It’ll continue telling the stories of this complicated and beautiful university, city and community. It’ll continue bringing up good journalists who care about people.
Here’s to 125 years and 125 years more. War Eagle!
Chip Brownlee, senior in journalism and political science, has served as editor-in-chief of The Plainsman since May 2017. He graduates in August. The Plainsman's enterprise editor, Eduardo Medina, junior in journalism, will take over as editor-in-chief in May.
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