The first story I ever wrote for The Augustana Mirror was about a squirrel.
More specifically, it was about a dead squirrel.
The poor thing had gotten caught between two wooden partitions of a basement wall in a campus theme house, found himself stuck and slowly turned into a small pile of fur that radiated a terrible smell — or so we’d heard.
My editor at the time had asked for someone to snoop around campus to see if the story was true. I nervously volunteered, figuring that I wouldn’t last long as a journalism major without mustering up enough courage to take at least one story for the student newspaper my freshman year.
I arrived 15 minutes early to all my interviews with questions I had shakily scrawled on notebook paper the night before, furiously transcribed every word from the interviews afterward and stayed up past midnight trying to get my 300 allotted words about what became a story of miscommunication between students and Campus Life just right.
Four years later, I’m still chasing those squirrels.
As The Augustana Mirror’s editor-in-chief this past year, I’ve had the opportunity to witness firsthand the important work that goes into covering news that matters to students, whether that means editing InDesign layouts late at night, breaking news from the basement of East Hall or aligning coverage via Zoom after the physical campus closes.
And the news has been big: We’ve covered tornadoes, explained tuition increases, dove into Vision 2030, broken news about COVID and even investigated potholes on 28th Street and told you why they won’t be repaired anytime soon. We’ve written about DnD, thrifting, falconry and even featured professors based on their niche clothing choices.
While a few of us newshounds might be headed for the real world at the end of May, I have faith that our remaining editors — and a few new ones — will pick up the snooping, newsgathering, writing and storytelling, just where we’ve left it.
Thank you especially to our contributing writers for writing, adviser Jeffrey Miller for advising and, of course, our readers for reading.
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that student news matters — even if school hasn’t yet started, or it’s three in the morning or you can’t print a physical newspaper.
As long as there’s news, someone has to write about it.
And while I’ll be trading in my editor-in-chief hat for (hopefully) a real-world reporter’s pen and paper soon, I can’t wait to see what our future editors and writers have in store for years to come.
Hopefully, they’ll find at least a few more squirrels.