Summer means change for the Independent. It always has.
Whether it’s change in our budget, changes in the school, changes in the staff, every summer brings a new era to the humble collegiate newspaper of NEIU. And this summer, it’s a change in leadership. Starting this fall semester, the role of EIC will be handed off to our current Managing Editor, the ever capable and reliant Rut Ortiz.
I’ve spent three of my best years here at the school paper, and wouldn’t take back a second of it. The Independent represents the best NEIU has to offer. Everyone who works for the paper knows what it can offer. If I’m being totally candid, there’s no money, no on-campus fame, no academic incentive to working for the paper.
The Independent created for me the single biggest opportunity for growth as a person. Being part of a team of the most talented group of individuals I’ve ever known has made me a better person. On a bi-weekly basis, everyone here has delivered on a product that somehow, some ways always gets better.
This paper is no longer a way for writers to just get a little practice in before they get out to the real world. Writing and working for the Independent now means creating a real change at NEIU. If it’s as small as letting student’s know where their cafeteria food is coming from, or letting professors know about some big changes happing down the line, or letting administration know in what ways they are succeeding (or failing), this paper now serves its readership better than it ever has.
It wasn’t always like that though. It took a long time to create a paper that served the NEIU community as well as it does now. There was once even a time were President Sharon Hahs in an open meeting said “I would not use the Independent as a reliable source of information.” I was covering that meeting that day. I was just a staff writer, but those words cut deep. It might have been some throwaway opinion at the time, but I never forgot that moment.
Three years later, the Independent became the recipient of six individual awards at the Illinois Collegiate Press Association. We were awarded 4th best less-than-daily publication and 5th best big school website by the Associate Collegiate Press national awards. NEIU also was presented the Nspire Award for enriching student life on campus. And though there is no official award for opinions, I truly know that our writing staff, editor board, and visual production have never been stronger.
It’s taken three years of work and dedication to not just say but prove the following statement:
The is the single most reliable source of information on campus.
In the office right now sits a little glass trophy with my name on it. “Luis Badillo: Wilson Media Award 2015.” The award is given to an individual whose participation in a media organization has contributed to the success, leadership, service and quality of the organization. I was truly humbled and grateful to receive it.
But, I much rather would have had my name not be on it. The success of the Independent is thanks to every single writer who spent their personal time getting interviews and reporting on the school they go to. The success of the Independent relies on the stalwart leadership of all its editors, the dedication of business staff, and the craftsmanship of production staff.
That Wilson Media trophy belongs more to them than it does to me. I just ran a newspaper.
I’m truly happy to have been part of the Independent, but my time is up. And with change coming to NEIU in the next couple of years, the Independent will be more vital to its readership than ever before. And even though I’m not in charge anymore, I know that this paper’s best days are ahead of it.
You can trust me on this; I’m a reliable source of information.
Thanks, Independent staff and readership. I can’t imagine life at NEIU without you.