Recently, somebody jokingly asked me if I’m worried that if the whole thing goes south, I’ll be forever known as the guy who ruined The Gateway, a 106-year-old University of Alberta campus institution.
First, here’s a quick Reader’s Digest of what’s going on for those who haven’t followed. We’re making a massive organizational shift this coming year and we’re not printing weekly newspapers anymore. Instead, we’ll be putting articles online as they happen, engaging with new types of social media, and putting our best pieces together into a monthly magazine.
Newsprint isn’t dying. It’s already dead. The corpse is still dancing around on strings as those who can’t seem to let go and adapt continue to drag it through the mud. A few months ago, a bunch of talented and hardworking individuals lost their jobs at PostMedia because those at the top didn’t have the foresight to make a change.
Well, here it is. Am I worried? To be honest, no, I’m not worried at all.
I have confidence in the next group of people coming in. I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll nail it. I’m thrilled to watch a new and eager crew roll in, ready to completely invest themselves in this organization and create something incredible.
But as less of a Public Relations answer, I’m not worried at all because that’s the point of being here. We’re students, we’re here to learn, and we’re here to take risks. The first ones to smash their heads through the wall are going to get a little bloody, but there’s no better opportunity to do it than now, when we’re in university. If you aren’t willing to do it now, then when?
That’s what makes a organization like The Gateway so valuable. It’s a place to come and take risks, put yourself out there, and get better. It’s more than just learning technical writing skills, CP style, or how to structure an article — it’s learning how to write for a real life audience. We try to connect with campus, interpret things, and then tell the stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told.
It’s tremendously exciting having your work put out there. But in the same vein, it’s hard. It’s so fucking stressful. When people lash back and criticize what we do, it hurts. Obviously you can’t just take the good and completely reject the bad. When your work gets ostracized, there’s a good chance it’s for a legitimate reason. You have to stomach it, and allow it to help you get better. That’s what putting yourself out there means.
What made that so easy to do this year, and I’m confident that others who have had the privilege of working here in the past will attest to, is the fact that we supported each other. Working here didn’t feel like work. Of course, the work itself is some of the most exciting and worthwhile stuff you can do, but also, I had a damn good time being in the office with these people. It wasn’t just because we dicked around, played Nutball, a form of keep-it-up with a nerf football to relieve stress, or because we had a really good franchise file on NHL Hitz 2003, it was because we created an environment in which everybody was comfortable, and as a result, could do their best work.
That’s what you want in a job. It’s so underrated. Work can suck, but it never really does if the people you work with are ones you enjoy being around. It’s important to find work that you’re genuinely passionate about, because it’ll never feel like a job if that’s the case, but it’s also important to have that kind of relationship with your coworkers.
I’ve spoken with a handful of Gateway alumni over the past few months since we made our plans public. I’ve listened to hilarious stories about press night shenanigans, goofy inside jokes, and all of the amazing things that people have done here. But the one constant among alum who felt their time here was worthwhile is the people they spent it with.
The work is huge, don’t get me wrong. I’ll cherish some of the articles I’ve written here and the skills I’ve developed, but nothing about my time here will mean more to me than the memories I made with these people.
How does this apply to the average reader? What can you take away from this? Find work that you love to do. That much is a given. But also, get to know your coworkers. They may end up being some of the best people you’ll ever meet.
As long as this organization exists as a place for misfit university students to come collaborate and pound out something loaded with passion and energy, it’ll shine. So that’s why I’m not nervous for the future of The Gateway. In fact, I’m excited. And you should be too.