The writer Gay Talese spoke to our staff in the News’ Boardroom last spring and began to weep. This was disconcerting, given that Talese was speaking about the state of journalism, describing it as one might talk about a great lover who got away and is not coming back.
Talese likes to talk ruefully about lovers, so his sadness (and his tears) must not worry us too much. But his concern is widely shared. Our industry in 2009 was dominated by a single, sad proclamation: that newspapers are dead, or soon will be, and perhaps the craft of journalism will follow.
We at Yale, we who are interested in the future of this paper and this community, must not let the state of our industry weigh on us.
Whether the News exists in print a generation from now is not a question we are prepared to answer. Nor do we care to predict that. But after a year at the helm of the Oldest College Daily, this much is clear: There is hope for what we do.
Much has changed at Yale over the 12 months that the Managing Board of 2010 has produced this newspaper. This time last fall, the Yale Corporation was studying what might happen if the endowment plunged 10 or 15 percent; the new colleges, we were assured, would not be affected.
Now the colleges are on hold, and the endowment has dropped a quarter of its value. Tough decisions are today the norm for department heads. And since Annie Le’s GRD ’13 body was found last month, our campus has had to come to terms with the fact that even Yale is not immune to the abiding, improbable evil of the human spirit.
The last year has been difficult — or at least more difficult than most people here are used to. It is in times like these that probing reporting is utterly essential, that responsibility and sensitivity from journalists is not just desired, but required.
Of course, the student journalists who work nightly in 202 York St. will be here to keep covering the story of Yale as it unfolds. They will be here through the rest of this year, and next, and for many more, long after we move on from Yale and enter the adult world — a few of us perhaps working as professional journalists in the future.
Indeed, the Yale Daily News will live on without us, providing Yale with the journalism every community needs.
As we pass the torch to a new generation of young journalists, we trust in the enduring values of our profession. We trust in an adherence to the truth. We trust in the integrity of the written word. We trust in the dedication and sacrifice of our successors — that they will give themselves to this community as we have given ourselves for the past year.
Every morning, the news will change. Every morning, the circumstances will be different. What will remain is the goal of the News: to be the voice of the students of Yale University; to break the news of the University and to report it fairly.
And despite Talese’s tears, we do not think journalism is dying. Nay, journalism cannot die. We need it too much.