Future Daily Texan editors could stand to reach out more

Riley Brands

Editor’s Note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.

Just six windows in the Daily Texan newsroom communicate with the outside world.

Two of those are in my office. And they aren’t positioned to admit the maximum amount of light, either, what with their being perched high above my head.

No, our offices, by their subterraneousness and perhaps other factors, have had a historical tendency to seal us off from the people and world we serve.

I say “serve,” at least for myself and those who have held this position before me, because nearly all of us were elected by the student body, a selection process once common at college newspapers but now hardly extant.

So why, then, given this special and closely guarded tradition, do we seem so isolated from the rest of campus? Shouldn’t an election cleanly close the communication gap between us and the student body?

Not necessarily. I hate to rely on such a well-worn cliché, but communication is a two-way street. An elected editorship allows the student body to communicate its thoughts to candidates during the campaign but offers it little to no recourse afterward if its majority choice refuses to engage.

That has been the Achilles’ heel of so many recent editors, myself included, not because we don’t care but because we don’t prioritize it highly enough. But more important than any of our shortcomings on that front is the need for future torch-bearers to avidly resist the urge to cloister themselves away.

The editor doesn’t handle the daily nitty-gritty of the paper, so he or she should break out of the office more often. As the editor’s responsibilities are currently codified, he or she is the face of the paper. I think we could do a better job of fulfilling that role.

Perhaps that means more events on campus, more visits by the editor to student organizations or more creative, interactive outreach efforts. I’m not sure what those would look like, but they’re worth exploring by future student editors. I haven’t thought through the logistics, but I’m convinced there’s no limit to what could be accomplished.

Serving as editor of this storied publication has been the greatest honor of my young life, but I couldn’t have done it without my always-generous support system: Jamie, Mary, Charlotte, Christina, Ali, Eric, Kathryn and my immediate staff: Toni, Noah, Olive, Olivia and Cullen. Nor could I have stayed focused without my dad, who always made himself available to kick around story ideas, and my mom, who has always taught me by example never to back down from a fight whose cause was righteous. And to Claire, my successor, remember, I’m always just a phone call away.


Brands has been editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan since June 2014. Previously, he has served as a copy editor, associate copy desk chief, copy desk chief, wire editor, Life&Arts writer and associate editor.