I remember when I first heard about The Campanil. It was my first semester at Mills, my first Block Party. I was wandering through the club fair, and I came across The Campanil’s table under its large tent. I spoke briefly with a girl named Max Hoppe (Design Editor at the time), who mentioned two of my interests — writing and design — and encouraged me to come to the pitch meeting at 6 that evening.
I showed up to the meeting on my own and sat in a corner. The small-ish, cheerful blue room was packed with intrigued freshwomen; about six people were on the couch alone, and most were on the floor or in the grey desk chairs. Courtney Nuding (Features Editor at the time) was writing story pitches on a large pad of paper. She pitched a story about a local musician, and on an impulse I picked it up.
“What’s your name?” a girl nearby asked. I would later learn that her name was Sarah Gonzalez (Co-Features Editor at the time).
“All right Christina!” She smiled and clapped enthusiastically, and I think I blushed.
I later met with Lisa Bergquist (Arts Editor at the time) to offer two more stories: one about the Monterey Jazz Festival I’d be working at in the near future, and another about a local band playing soon in Berkeley.
The shortened version is that only one of those stories made it to print: A concert review for the local band, Illusion Lounge.
I kept going to Pitch on Mondays, and after maybe three or four meetings, I received a mysterious email summons from the Editor in Chief at the time, Bonne-Marie Bautista. I showed up in the empty newsroom at the appointed time, thinking I was in trouble for the two un-published stories and wondering how she’d gotten my email. She led me into the office and closed the door.
She told me how she’d seen me showing up consistently to Pitch, sitting quietly in the corner and taking notes. She offered me the position of Calendar Editor.
I was startled to say the least. I had no experience in any kind of journalism apart from that one story, and I had no idea how showing up consistently to Pitch translated to “You should be an editor.” She explained what my responsibilities would be, and I accepted.
I filled out a questionnaire, detailing things like my name and phone number, whether I worked, what dietary restrictions I had, and what five items should always be in an office. When we emerged, Sarah Gonzalez was there. She congratulated me for joining the staff. I put a sticky note with my name on the computer by the door, and I was an official member of the staff. I had a desk and everything.
The following Monday, I attended my first after-Pitch Editor’s meeting. I was officially introduced to the rest of the staff, and I watched as they all nominated past issues and stories for the California College Media Awards (CCMAs). I had virtually no idea what they were all talking about, but I flinched in surprise when I heard Lisa say, “I think Christina’s Illusion Lounge story for best Features.” My story — the first one I’d ever published — won first place that year, but I didn’t know that until the next semester.
It was all learning by doing after that first meeting. Everyone on staff was sweet and patient and willing to help me learn to use Quark Express (a horrible piece of design software, don’t do it). I picked up bits and pieces of AP Style, conventions of The Campanil’s own design style and processes, the editorial process, and exactly how editors sound during late night productions.
At the end-of semester staff party, Bonne turned to me and said, “You’re in it for the long haul. I can tell.”
I merrily stayed Calendar Editor for my first three semesters on staff. In Spring 2010, we created the position of Photo Editor, and I changed over to that, bringing current Editor in Chief, Lauren Sliter, on as Calendar Editor in my place. I was Assistant Design Editor in Fall 2010 — which was really more of a title change in that I was doing the same thing, but also helping to draw the pages. I went abroad in Spring 2011, and when I returned in Fall 2011, I was Design Editor, which I continue to be today.
There’s a part of me that dreads graduation because I know it will be the end of my time on The Campanil staff. I spent all my college years in the newsroom. I’ve watched the paper itself grow and change. I’ve watched the furniture shift around to different parts of the office. I’ve watched generations of editors pass through, and many of them are now some of my best friends. I’ve learned from them, talked and laughed with them, shared meals and off-duty drinks with them, worked with them, complained and suffered with them, stayed up till sunrise with them. I’ve even cried in front of one or two of them. I will miss them and I will miss the ever-changing landscape and culture of the newsroom itself. I’ll miss my beloved desk, too.
The newsroom, for whatever reason and by whatever magic, attracts a certain type of person. All those who have passed through during my tenure have been vastly different, and yet each one stays. The newspaper staff is a special group, and somehow, it has always managed to be a group of random strangers who work remarkably well together. Maybe it’s that we all want a high quality paper on our resumés. Maybe it’s that such a small staff is able to bond more. Personally, I believe that it’s just that we do our jobs, we do them well, and we have fun with what we do.
And that’s all.