Letter from the editor: Thanks for reading

One editor takes time to reflect back on what she has helped build at the Evergreen



RACHEL SUN, Evergreen reporter

Dear readers,

I am so grateful.

I came to WSU in the fall of 2016 and joined the staff of The Daily Evergreen a few months in. My time here has been life-changing in more ways than one. This is the place I’ve met almost all of my closest friends, the kind you never really lose even when you’re far away; it’s where I learned how to write a real news story, where I made mistakes early and often, and where I learned.

I have many people to thank. The staff of the Evergreen, whom I worked alongside through countless late nights and several minor crises; my mentors and professors who challenged me, supported me and believed in me before I did myself; the people who took time to read my stories; my friends, who’ve been a constant source of joy and support through my best and worst times here.

Despite the challenges, the people in my life made my college experience better than I could have hoped for, and I feel bittersweet preparing to leave (despite my constant complaining). So to the people who have been a part of my life: Thank you.

My time at the Evergreen was one of my most formative experiences. I don’t know exactly how many hours I spent in the basement of Murrow, and outside of it, working on something for the Evergreen. My guess would be approximately a sh-t ton. At least as much time, if not more, than I spent on all the rest of my classes.

During my time here I’ve been a photojournalist, a reporter, an illustrator, and an editor for the Photo, News and Roots sections, as well as editor-in-chief during the fall of 2019. I put my heart into this thing. All of us who stick around long enough do.

A few things I’ve learned during my time at WSU and the Evergreen:

Take the time to talk to people, whether you’re a reporter on duty or not. There’s a lot of interesting, unexpected and delightful stories that are worth hearing. Seek out people with different life experiences than you, you’ll learn a lot. Be kind without constantly sacrificing your well-being for others. It’s not noble, and certainly not sustainable. If you have a gut feeling about something, don’t ignore it. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else around you. Making mistakes feels sh-tty, but try to take it as a chance to learn. Do the thing, even if you’re afraid you’ll mess up. Especially then. Respect your own time and that of others. Class and work are important, but they aren’t everything. Make time for friends. Make time for yourself. Make time for things that you love, that feel good, that bring you real joy.

I write this as if I’m some sort of expert. I am not. But hopefully, my experiences can be of some value to you, especially if you’re still working your way through college.

When I graduate in about a week, I’ll be entering one of the worst job markets in the past decade. To be honest, that’s a bit nerve-wracking, but I’m also excited for life beyond college. I’m still deciding on my next steps, but I know it’ll involve a lot of writing. My time, experiences and many lessons learned here has left me feeling as ready as I’ll ever be to leave.

That brings me to my last point: For me, and many students past and present, the Evergreen has been an invaluable resource for learning and preparing for our future careers in journalism. It’s allowed us to serve our community, and be better at doing that same job when we’re hired as full-time professionals.

Many of the professionals whose work you read today, including writers and editors for the Seattle Times and The Spokesman-Review, got their start in our dinky little basement newsroom.

In my time here, the Evergreeners have worked to increase coverage of different identities, experiences and stories at WSU and continue our mission as the primary watchdog for WSU. In the past few years, the Evergreen uncovered predatory behavior by professors, departmental turmoil and alleged misconduct and sexual misconduct allegations, to name a few.

We’ve also served as a platform for the arts in our Mint section, and told stories of beloved community members or long-running organizations in Roots, told athletes’ stories in Sports and created a space for public dialogue in our opinion section.

My point is, we’ve got a little something for everyone. And despite our fumbles, I’ve been proud to be a part of a lot of the work done here. Since its inception 125 years ago, the Evergreen has served as an invaluable training resource for budding journalists.

The past several months, in particular, have brought on new challenges for the Evergreen. We work with limited equipment, budget cuts and a university-wide hiring freeze that will keep us from employing a permanent advisor in our otherwise completely student-led organization for the foreseeable future. We’ve reduced the number of writers and editors we have working for us to save money and moved to all-online publications.

Journalism generally isn’t a lucrative industry, but right now, in particular, it is a difficult time for something that is, more than ever, an essential service for our readers.

As the Evergreen faces these new challenges, the students here will need the support of our student body and the greater university community we serve. As an institution, we are constantly working to prove our worth.

As a student who grew immeasurably from working here, and witnessed the larger impacts of our stories over four years, I hope you’ll believe me when I say it’s worth supporting. For those of you that have been, thank you.

To all you current and future staff: I’m so glad I got to work with you, and I know you’ll go far. You’ve got this. And from one Evergreener to another: Give ‘em hell.