Editor’s Note: Writing with passion about our community

Matt Hooke, Executive Editor

“Do you love music?” asked my first editor Brian Karem after an article on a music festival in Washington, D.C. did not meet his expectations.

Karem was the executive editor of The Montgomery County Sentinel, a weekly newspaper in suburban Maryland. After my first-year plans to be a psychologist nosedived like my grade in my first 300 level class, I found myself interning that summer at that small office above an episcopal school.

Karem ran our 10,000 subscriber outfit with the aggression one would expect from a former University of Missouri football player, with speeches resembling outtakes from World War II movies more than standard business fluff.

“Of course,” I responded sheepishly as my heart sank into my gut.

“Then why don’t you write like it?” asked Karem as he looked over my copy.

Those words define the attitude I bring to The Observer. The ability to tell someone’s story is a great responsibility. Our writing and reporting must reflect the passion and love that our subjects put into what they do.

As I take the reins in the fall, you will see an expansion of the content you read each week. Three aspects of our paper that I will start focusing on are feature writing, investigative reporting and video content. I believe The Observer must have an inherently different role than other campus news outlets like The Daily. The Observer as the student voice cannot function as a stenographer for Case Western Reserve University, uncritically announcing new campus renovations and new fundraising initiatives.

I have the great fortune of succeeding a fantastic editor in Eddie Kerekes, and I look forward to expanding on his accomplishments. As executive editor, I will try to tell the stories of students and community members honestly and justly while holding the university, local government and business interests accountable.

Next fall is an important one for The Observer as it marks our fiftieth anniversary. To honor this anniversary, we will publish one archival story each week. I plan to have two new subsections to the paper to be published periodically: “food” under the umbrella of arts and entertainment and “science and the environment” under news.

Food may seem trite, but there are few things as necessary in our daily lives. When we sit down to have a meal, we do not simply fill ourselves with fuel as impersonally as I may fill up my car with gasoline. We are sharing in a cultural experience. The food we enjoy represents who and where we come from with recipes and techniques that are passed down from generation to generation.

A food section comes as the culinary scene of University Circle is undergoing a massive amount of turmoil. Rising rents and a lack of parking has forced out mainstays like Falafel Cafe and Happy Dog while new restaurants like Tacologist  and Dave’s Cosmic Music Club move in to gain a foothold. This section will be a platform for our readers’ recipes, letting our newspaper display their creativity. We will also create more video content, giving students who are interested in documentary filmmaking or television broadcasting a place to hone their talents.

A section on science and the environment will make a great addition for two reasons. Firstly, we live in an area where the environment has great importance. We are about 30 minutes from a national park and right alongside the Great Lakes. The Environmental Protection Agency was founded in part because of the infamous Cuyahoga River fire in 1969. An environment section cannot simply be an easy going Kenny G soundtracked “Weather Channel on the 8s.” It must take into account the unique problems of environmental justice that face our industrial city.

Secondly, The Observer is a newspaper that represents a science-focused institution. We should offer a place for these students to write about their interests much in the way that I, as someone who has a great interest in arts and culture, have found a place to write about mine. The section will be a place for students to interview professors about their scientific work and talk about issues in the sciences that are important to them without having to undergo the lengthy process of writing a research paper.

The opportunity to be a journalist is a great gift that has taught me more about myself and the world that surrounds me than anything else I have done in my short stint on this Earth. It has forced me to reevaluate my perspective on things and think beyond my often narrow worldview.

I hope to create a version of The Observer that does the same for others: a paper that gives our readers a window into someone else’s life every Friday morning.