A Century of Excellence at The Ram

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A Century of Excellence at The Ram

(Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

(Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

(Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

(Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

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Sometimes I wonder how future historians, anthropologists, sociologists and the like will characterize our time. The world isn’t making a whole lot of sense. There’s a rise of far-right demagoguery across the globe. We’re burning our planet to a crisp, making it increasingly less hospitable to all kinds of life. And technology is defining our lives in ways I’m not sure any of us understand, in good ways and bad.
Generations before us will say that this time isn’t entirely unique, that things aren’t as bad as they seem. And I do cling to those words, feeling our elders must know better.

I find comfort in language. I find comfort in the solace words offer, in the nice things people can say to me when I’m sad or sick or dismayed. But I also find comfort inside of words. I nestle in their crooks and bends, get comfortable in the spaces between words and paragraphs. I find comfort in words coming together and making sense, in giving me some sense; that we can distill something into a physical or digital page gives me understanding.

This is why I have always wanted to pursue journalism. It offers up words for consumption and digestion and provides the solace I’ve always found in writing. It offers a respite from the trials and tribulations one encounters in their personal life. It educates, gives voice to the voiceless.

I thought I’d find that respite when I started my tenure at The Fordham Ram. And I did, in part. Some articles are cut and dry: Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, did this. Fordham Football did that.

More often than not, though, my experience at The Fordham Ram has confounded me. We’ve faced difficult editorial decisions. We did not always do the right thing. We’ve published bad opinion articles, misquoted people, gotten some news wrong. Some administrators are kind and transparent; most are closed off and inaccessible. It’s not always as simple as providing all the facts for people to consume. There are facts we can’t report, facts that feel weird to report, facts that aren’t facts.

I always knew journalism would be hard. But I thought it was hard because foreign correspondents are exposed to bullets in warzones or because White House reporters have to sift through the daily monotony to uncover scandals. I did not think the the truth would be so evasive, and did not know that right and wrong are often on the same side.

Even bias-free reporting is a figment: we’re guided by our biases, whether we like it or not. Over the course of my involvement at The Fordham Ram, I’ve realized journalism carries the baggage the rest of the world carries.

My respite, I’ve realized, is just as stress-inducing as the rest of the world is. So I’ve turned to people.

Over the past three years, I have produced 66 issues of The Fordham Ram with the most hardworking people on this campus. We stay up late making the paper and wake up early to make it to interviews or meet with writers. Thousands of people go on our website every month to read what we’ve written and edited. We meet, have disagreements and don’t always get along.

We also laugh until we cry, give each others shoulders to cry on and hang out beyond production nights.

We’ve covered some of the most tumultuous and divisive times in the university’s history. There is the election of President Donald Trump, a president many consider is leading the United States in the wrong direction. There is the changing landscape of New York City, which is losing some of its peculiarities and character to development, gentrification and fiscal inequity. There is the growing gap between both sides of the political spectrum. There is the increasing hostility toward disadvantaged groups, a hostility we’ve seen play out on campus in bias incidents and provocative political demonstrations.

We’ve concluded the first century of journalism at The Fordham Ram. We’ve spent hours in a basement in McGinley, arguing over ledes and Oxford commas and controversial opinion articles and memes and the appropriateness of printing certain phrases in the paper. We’ve stayed late Tuesday nights into Wednesday mornings, working diligently on our pages then collapsing into depravity and chest-heaving laughter. The lights have gone out, the internet has gone down and the printer has failed to deliver our paper.

We’ve grown closer in the process and learned from each other. Laura Sanicola, you were really hard on me. Sometimes you made me mad. But you taught me almost everything I know about journalism: the importance of fairness, of not burying the lede. To the rest of the staff of Volume 98, including Kristen Santer, Tara Martinelli, Amanda Maile and Amanda Giglio: thank you for scaring me a little bit, making me laugh a lot and introducing me to this newspaper.

Volume 99, thank you for giving me some of my best friends. My roots grew more firm, and I grew more comfortable. Erin Shanahan, thank you for calming me, grounding me, and expecting the best from me. I have a lifelong friend in you. Victor Ordonez, you know I cannot put a thank you down in writing. Liz Doty, Cal Swindal, everybody else: thank you for making me want to stay.

And to Volume 100. The centennial volume, the only one there ever will be. We produced a year of great journalism, effectively commemorated this momentous occasion, and became a family. Jack, Bailey: we did it since the beginning. For that I am so grateful. Taylor, thank you for the late nights, fun talks, and companionship. Aislinn, I thought you were really weird when we first met. You also thought I was weird. That hasn’t changed, but what has changed is our bond. Thank you for making this all so fun.

Congratulations to the staff of Volume 101. Aislinn, Hannah, Lindsay, Colette, Briana: you are so skilled and equipped, and I cannot wait to read your work. We are leaving this paper in good hands. Women weren’t at Fordham 55 years ago. Now, they’re running the university’s journal of record.

I involved myself with The Ram because I wanted to get involved with journalism. The world doesn’t make any sense, and maybe it never did. I am not abandoning journalism. It can’t give me the answers, but it will always try to give me the truth, in whatever incarnation it takes. It provides me with information, and I hope it will provide me with a passion to which I can dedicate my life.

But our newspapers and cable news shows can only do so much. It’s the people we surround ourselves with — at The Ram and beyond — that prove the world isn’t so cold, and things aren’t so helpless. Cheers to Volume 100 of The Fordham Ram. I hope future generations of Ram writers look back to what we did and feel we made the best sense of everything as we could. More importantly, I hope those future generations get to enjoy the bond we’ve been so fortunate to share.