Markham: Leaving The Observer in good hands

Chris Markham, Director of Print

Well, here’s the article I’ve been dreading—my goodbye article. I was in no way ready for how quickly this semester would come to an end, and I am in no way ready to write this article and say goodbye to The Observer. 

There’s not a single college student out there who wouldn’t say that COVID-19 has affected their college experience in a whole host of ways. For me, one significant way my college experience has changed is in our operations here at The Observer. We stopped printing a physical paper back in March 2020 and transitioned all of our content online, and all of us did our work remotely. 

Prior to the pandemic, The Observer’s editorial board would meet as a group in the University Media Board (UMB) office every Wednesday night to put the paper together. This was our production night, and it was always the highlight of my workweek. Every single week, I always looked forward to Wednesday night. 

But thanks to the pandemic, we had to work remotely. Even after we returned to campus in the fall, we couldn’t all meet in the UMB office because of social distancing rules and the fact that we tend to work from 5:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., and that’s way too long to stay in one room with other people and keep a mask on. So for the whole academic year, we’ve worked remotely and had our production nights over Zoom. And while it’s still fun to see my team members’ faces and speak with them, and I still look forward to my Wednesday production nights, they just don’t hit the same as they did in person. 

All that being said, though, I’ve still had a great time being a part of The Observer, and I’m proud of how we’ve continued to publish content throughout the pandemic. Our mission is to give the student body the news they deserve, and we’ve pushed through, kept going and done just that. It’s not a stretch to say that the work I’ve done at The Observer is one of the things that I’m most proud of doing in my college career. 

I joined The Observer as a copy editor in October 2019 as a way to gain insight into the journalism industry. At the time, I’d recently decided that I no longer wanted to attend law school, so I needed to figure out what to do with my life. Journalism seemed like a good thing to look into and joining The Observer seemed like the best way to do that. And here I am a year and a half later about to leave this paper, and I’m not sure where I’m going next. 

I have indeed been applying to jobs at various newspapers, but I’m still waiting to see how that all turns out. My fingers are crossed, but I’m going to keep pushing until something sticks. I’m hoping my experience here at The Observer impresses some employers out there. Until then, I’ll keep applying and make sure that I finish this semester strong. 

I’ve had a great time on The Observer. I’ve learned a lot about journalism and a lot about myself, I’ve become a much better writer and editor, and I’ve met so many great people—people who I never would’ve met if it wasn’t for The Observer. Not only that, but I’ve also grown closer to people who I already knew from outside The Observer.  

Some of these people graduated last year. Some of them are graduating with me this year. But many of them are staying on The Observer next year. Copy Editor Sara Khorshidi will fill my position as director of print after I leave. I’ve worked with her for two school years now, and I can think of no better person to take my place. Nathan Lesch is staying on as the paper’s executive editor, and will undoubtedly continue to do a brilliant job leading the paper. Along with the many other capable editors, directors, photographers, illustrators and writers who are staying on board and the new ones who are joining the team, I know I’m leaving the paper in good hands. 

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the future. But one thing I am sure of is that The Observer will continue to prosper, as always, because of the people who work here.