Farewell Letter from the Editor

Mackenzie Riley, Editor

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When I began this year as Editor-in-Chief of The OCSA Ledger I knew I was in for a challenge. News reporting evolves nearly daily, and amidst that, I would have to learn to manage a group of twelve diverse and very opinionated high school students. It was a challenge, but not one as insurmountable as I thought.

The 2018-2019 school year was our first full year as an online newspaper, and while I was reluctant to give up print, this new format has increased our efficiency, accuracy, and timeliness. This was the first lesson I learned serving as Editor, to move with changes, not against them. This year our readership has grown exponentially, with over twelve-thousand readers since January 1st, 2019. These readership numbers would not be possible without the dedication of my staff and their fearlessness in the face of new obstacles. I knew to keep in touch with the high school population we would have to expand from the serious worldly articles I typically favor.

When the government shut down in December of 2018, teenagers jumped onto the far fetched, but funny conspiracy theory that birds were government drones and had vanished once the government closed. While a more logical conclusion was that it was winter and the birds had just migrated, high school students could not let go of this story. I assigned it to one of my senior staffers, expecting a hundred-word article explaining the phenomenon. I instead received a full-length satirical piece both criticizing the theory, but also addressing the reality of mass surveillance. This article rose to 2,000 reads, something I would have never normally published. This at first irritated me, as some of our more serious articles struggled to reach 100 views, but I realized they were missing an important component: connection. Our readers weren’t connecting with our pieces, and even though we thought they were important, high school students didn’t. This pushed me to loosen the reigns on what I deemed newsworthy, something that I feel is essential to our paper’s growth.

The Ledger staff has become a family to me and I normally refer to them as “my kids”. Coming into this leadership role, I wrongfully assumed it would be difficult to motivate them to write articles and that I would find myself at odds with them–I was wrong. I have never met a group of students more loyal and passionate about a product. Each week, two articles were assigned, but I often received double that. This year we have published 640 stories and counting, something I didn’t think was possible. Truthfully, editing all of those articles has been exhausting, but luckily my staff is consistent with their high quality of work. I am constantly amazed at the stories they pitch, from terrorism to reviews of new plays hitting Broadway, and stories about the school, these kids are eager to learn and inform others. This process has taught me a lot about how important diversity is in our journalism. Even while attempting to remain unbiased, without diverse opinions a disservice has been done to readers. The meaning of news has been completely broken down by The Ledger staff and been reconstructed into selfless service, to ensure that every reader has access to the information uniquely important to them. These people have built this paper from the ground up, and I owe all of this year’s successes to their hard work.

I am beyond proud to have served as your 2018-2019 Editor-in-Chief and I am wholeheartedly confident in the continued success of The OCSA Ledger. I cannot wait to read future articles, not as an editor or peer, but simply as a reader, because I trust in the news these students provide.

 

The OCSA Ledger Editor-in-Chief 2018-2019,

Mackenzie Riley