The state of The Northern Light

It’s amazing how fast a year can pass.

Last August, I sat at this desk for the first time as the editor of The Northern Light. By the time you read this, the desk will be cleaned out and waiting for the new editor to return from a summer internship.

(Editor’s note: Local media organizations in need of a reporter may contact my agent with employment inquiries.)

Looking back, it is easy to be glum and nostalgic that time whizzed by so fast. But if the bad news is that time flew by, then the good news is that The Northern Light staff made for a hell of a pilot over the past 12 months. The paper was and is bigger and better than it has ever been before. The staff, from the reporters to the editors to the photographers, was as talented and driven a group as I could ask for.

(Editor’s note: If I seem proud of what we’ve done, well, it’s because I am.)

We fought battles for our fellow students and even won a few of them. We dug around for good stories and occasionally pissed some people off. We were faced with tough situations, such as student deaths, and we handled them with professionalism and class. We informed, amused and even enraged our fellow students.

A newspaper has a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. (Editor’s note: Enough behind the scenes action that I could probably get a book deal. Simon & Schuster, call my agent.) Writers and photographers get bylines but others go unnoticed by the reader. September saw a new look for the paper. The credit for the cleaner, more modern look can largely be attributed to the keen eye of layout editor Steven Siebe with input and critiques from the rest of the staff.

- Advertisement -

The fall also saw the debut of the expanded Opinion section. The praise goes to Michelle B. Loscher who told me she wanted to be opinion editor and get more voices in the paper. I jumped at the chance but I didn’t know how good the section would become.

Michelle decided to tackle religion with her column “The ‘F’ Word.” Vying against the top student journalists in the nation, her fourth column took home a 2005 Hearst Award for editorial writing. To non-journalists, that might not seem like a big deal. But trust me, it is a big deal.

The end of the August-to-August run means that we will be saying goodbye to a couple NL staffers that will be sorely missed, as both co-workers and friends.

(Editor’s note: I am not crying. Seriously.)

In the fall of 2003, Natasha Korshin wandered into The Northern Light office looking for advice about what books she needed for a Journalism and Public Communications class. We couldn’t give her any good advice but we did offer her a job. She joined up as a reporter and worked her way up to the features editor position last fall.

Features coverage was diverse and the calendar was the best it’s ever been. The latter was due to Natasha’s desire to know everything that is going on around town. But two years has been enough, so now she is focusing on graduation in the spring and having enough time to hit up all those fun calendar events.

There’s a joke among my friends that I’ve been around UAA a bit too long. (Editor’s note: My friends would insert a Van Wilder or Tommy Boy joke here.) But for as long as I’ve been around, Michelle has me beat. She’s seen building names change (Building K to Professional Studies Building) and even her own name change (Bartleman to Loscher).

(Editor’s note: I like parentheses.)

Michelle signed up with The Northern Light in 2000 as a graphic designer. But it wasn’t long before the layout editor quit and Michelle had a bigger role. The paper saw a complete metamorphosis when Michelle took the layout reins.

Over the last five years she’s done pretty much every job at the paper. Sometimes it seemed she did them all at once. In February, she became managing editor and defined how that position should be performed. Now she leaves us to fly the great Alaska skies and make the Anchorage Daily News Web site a better place.

So what will become of The Northern Light in the coming year? Don’t fret, because the paper is in capable hands. Many dedicated staffers are returning and more new blood will join in the fall. The new editor in chief, Liz Brooks, will face the same challenges her predecessors did. I have no doubt she and the staff will rise to meet them and continue to help the paper grow.

And if I had to give them one piece of advice? Work hard and have fun.

(Editor’s note: Okay, so that was two. But journalists are never good at math.)