Many of my non-Crimson friends think doing FM is tantamount to
sadomasochism (with me on the abuse-receiving end, obviously). FM seems
to chew the execs up every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night, and spit
us back out Wednesday morning a little unshowered and a lot
sleep-deprived. Even when we leave 14 Plympton, FM follows us home,
making demands via e-mail and haunting our dreams.
But there’s a number of very real reasons I kept coming back
for more. FM has been the most challenging, exhilarating, frustrating,
and educational experience of my life at Harvard. I’m not a journalism
junkie, and I certainly don’t have journalistic aspirations, but being
at 14 Plympton has kind of been an embedded journalistic experience: I
observed the “pros,” I learned about what we’re supposed to do, and
occasionally I contributed a bit.
When I was a naïve, wide-eyed freshman in a bare-bones FM
comp (oh, how things don’t change), I learned from my editors and from
my news-comping, soon-to-be-blockmate. Amit R. Paley ’04 taught me how
to make an FTM work and how to stand up to a source. When I did a
research assistant stint for Parker R. Conrad ’02-’03, he treated me
like someone who deserved to hear his thoughts about where his scrutiny
was going. I knew nothing about the administration, about
preregistration, about how university politics worked—but boy, did I
learn fast when someone older bothered to cultivate my knowledge.
The more I put into The Crimson, the more I gained—and from
observation (and numerous professional interviews), that’s the
experience of everyone else too. But besides being smart and dedicated,
in the abstract, it always, always helps to know a couple of the people
who are currently in power. This straight-from-Taiwan,
formerly-teetotaling, deadly earnest girl never had those social
networks to tap.
So how did I get some of the requisite skills to being a
semi-competent chair? I was horribly persistent and wrote a scrut. I
learned so much in my editing sessions with Rachel E. Dry ’04,
listening quietly as she and Liz F. Maher ’04 talked in the office. But
also, I shot for associate editor and got it. And in my year as
associate, I learned: in the production suite, in the newsroom, in the
FM office. I watched in awe as Mollie H. Chen ’05 worked her
organizational magic, and as Sarah M. Seltzer ’05 made stories funnier,
wittier, more nuanced.
Still (and don’t tell the people who okayed my promotion), I
didn’t really know how to edit a long story, or how to find the best
angle. Watching and mimicking my co-chair Elizabeth W. Green ’06, one
of the most thoughtful people and best writers I have had the pleasure
of knowing, certainly helped, but she couldn’t hold my hand. But, in
doing, in making mistakes, in occasionally getting things really,
really right, the year has gone by. The magazine came out 22 times
under Elizabeth, publisher Evan R. Johnson ’06, our amazing beautiful
staff of associates, designers, photogs, and me. We published some
pretty good stories. And now, I’ve come away from my three-and-a-half
years at the magazine a better reporter and writer.
I’ve loved my years here, but it makes me sad to think that
someone more talented than me, but less stubborn and less connected,
could have dropped away from The Crimson. And as earnest as this may
be: here’s to making the building more inclusive. Because it’s a
building and an organization that I deeply love.