production as editor. We had 32 pages to fill and worked 26 hours straight, still turning the paper in four hours late from deadline. To this day, I’m not entirely sure if those were tears of joyful relief or fear of what was to come this next year on the job. As any previous editor or staff member of the Gateway can tell you, there is no experience on campus like working for the student newspaper, at once the oddest and most wonderful adventure I’ve embarked on since setting foot on campus.
Carol Buffington, the publication’s current business manager, admitted to me the night before my first production that she was scared to leave the paper in the hands of me and my staff. With most of last year’s staff graduating or moving on from the paper, I had to essentially hire a completely new slew of editors and successfully tackle two papers that spanned over 30 pages each during my first full month on the job. Keep in mind, I was only a reporter before I received this job as well, so I had never seen the inside of a production in all of its stress-inducing glory.
But we did it. Drinking coffee by the tub-load, and playing hockey in the office at 3 a.m. using a bottle cap as a puck to keep ourselves awake during breaks, we finished our first paper. Then came the second, the third and soon a routine was established. I’d like to think we figured everything out, but all us Gateway staffers know it takes much longer than a year to master the complexities of UNO’s student newspaper.
I could tell you working at the paper has made me a better proofreader and writer (because it has). Or, I could confess that acting at the helm of a weekly publication has improved my ability to delegate and successfully lead a team (which I hope my staff would agree it has). I could even tell you that the fresh smell of newspaper and feeling of ink on my fingers will forever remind me of the Gateway office and the kooky madness that goes on within its doors. But, deep-down, I know in 10 or 20 years from now that it will be the people I’ve meet on the job that’ll make me forever admire this tiny college-publication, the campus’ eternal underdog.
Let me begin by telling you about some of my staff. There’s my layout manager- an aloof hipster, the kind of girl who celebrates a consumer less Christmas and has more personality in her pinky than most have in their whole mainstream/ regular bodies. She tirelessly pieced together our first two papers, with little to eat and no sleep, braving my new staff and almost 70 pages in one month. Just as goofy is my opinion editor. The most established thespian this side of 72nd street, he came into our first production wielding an acting award and his charisma hasn’t wavered since. My sports editor, Nick, or Beaver Cleaver as some on staff call him, is by far my most driven editor. Nick has managed to bring care and compassion into a section that could be all testosterone and statistics. Then there’s my news editor, Lindsi. We butt heads more than anyone else on staff, but I honestly could not have made it out of this experience alive without her. From waking her in the wee hours of the morning with problems to dancing on top of the office file cabinets and throwing darts into the ceiling tile (sorry, Carol!) on particularly slow productions, Lindsi has acted as both my confidant and best friend through this year, even if she doesn’t always appreciate my crude bathroom humor.
Beyond my staff, though, I’ve met some outstanding people and gotten the opportunity to tell some great stories. A dying political science professor who has traveled the world and worked at UNO for 30 years, a student who lost many of his possessions in a dorm fire but was astonished to find that a wooden box filled with letters from his late father had survived and a chancellor creatively implementing new programs to help build UNO into the great university it’s always been- these are just some of the people I’ve met this past year who have bewildered me and hopefully readers.
The Gateway may not always be the most popular entity on campus, but it has always told a story, whether it be of the staff creating it or the names splashed within its headlines and copy. The first draft of UNO’s history, the Gateway has spent the last 100 years capturing the spirit of the faculty and students on campus.
I realize now that my staff and I are just a piece of this publication’s century-long history. We’ve made some mistakes, scooped local media outlets on a few stories and always stayed true to telling the story of a university that’s just now beginning to breakthrough. Here’s hoping that the next 100 years are just as great, and that my predecessor knows the humbling feeling of crying over newsprint and deadlines too.