Last week, The Whit conducted its annual elections, which resulted in the promotion of several editors to higher positions and writers to positions on the editorial staff, as well as the re-appointment of several editors. For this week’s issue, the new staff will shadow the old staff in their elected positions to learn the ropes. And next week, the 2021-2022 staff will take up the helm of The Whit.
This being the case, this editorial is the last from the 2020-2021 staff and the very last from our graduating seniors.
It’s a bittersweet notion to think that this is the last time our current staff will consist of the people who’ve made The Whit what it’s been this year; current managing editor Tara Lonsdorf has been with The Whit all four years of her time at Rowan, current editor-in-chief Kalie VanDewater has been on staff for three years, current news editor Corey Rothauser started writing in September 2019. Vee Concepcion marked two years of copy editing for The Whit, this year serving as copy desk chief, and Taryn Guettler has served as a copy editor since September. Jana Jackstis joined our staff as one of our graphics editors this February.
All six of these people will receive their diplomas in a couple weeks and move on from The Whit and from Rowan, pursuing the next big steps in their lives, whether that be a graduate program or finding a job. Come September, The Whit’s dynamic will be changed because of the absence of the seniors and the presence of the new staff.
And while it may be bittersweet — especially for the seniors — that doesn’t mean The Whit won’t continue to be a great organization. The present staff has complete confidence in the up-and-coming editors. It also certainly doesn’t mean that the seniors, in some small way, won’t still be part of the Whit.
During the past year, we’ve made significant progress on creating our own multimedia. While we’ve always had multimedia editors on staff, the past couple years specifically have seen an increase of standalone videos and photo stories, rather than just media that accompanies our written content. This includes — but is not limited to — podcast episodes, Week in Review videos, visually interesting photo stories and broadcast-style videos. Next year’s staff plans to follow this precedent and continue building the multimedia section and the amount of content it produces.
The Whit has also recently re-established graphics positions, something that was once looped under the role of news editor for convenience and disappeared over time. Graduating senior Jana Jackstis and freshman Julia Quennessen stepped up to the challenge as graphics editors when the editorial staff decided to expand our visuals, and Quennessen will continue this position into the next academic year. And, hopefully, she and future students will maintain this reinstated section.
We’ve also taken on smaller tasks that have expanded The Whit’s reach and overall quality. Last semester, we started a weekly newsletter that highlights the top content from each section. It currently has about 200 subscribers, people who may not have otherwise seen our print issues or checked our website and social media.
Speaking of social media, we’ve worked on being more present on Instagram specifically by sharing when print issues are delivered, posting small sections of articles and introducing ourselves to our followers in a “Meet the Editors” format.
From the perspective of a senior, we’ve also produced more time-intensive articles this year than we have in the past. Typically, articles have been produced solely on a weekly basis, with Whit staff rarely investing the time to research, report and write articles that need more time than that. This year alone, we’ve taken time to report on Rowan’s COVID-19 signage (which took several weeks of persistence), Rowan’s University of the Future plan (a multi-part series) and the Pokemon card hobby in our region (another multi-week endeavor). There are others, but the overall trend is that we have the resources and time to spend more than a few days on fully investigating a story, and that’s producing more in-depth content. Again, this could — and hopefully does — set a precedent for The Whit in the coming years.
These changes are just the tip of the iceberg of what our graduating seniors have enacted within The Whit. Another is the improvement of our finance management, which has been spearheaded by Tara Lonsdorf — but you get the gist.
What’s important is there is always room for improvement. The incoming staff may decide to continue the initiatives mentioned above, or they may strengthen them in some aspects to create even better content. They may also find problems or challenges with how we’ve conducted business and make changes moving forward.
Ultimately, it’s now up to the new editors to make those decisions. The Whit is what they make it, and they can learn from what graduating seniors have done, whether that’s learning what they should or shouldn’t do.
The outgoing Whit staff believes in the abilities and dedication of the incoming staff, we know they will make us proud. So don’t worry Rowan, your news is in good hands.
For comments/questions about this story, tweet @TheWhitOnline.