Congratulations, new Ubyssey coordinating editor! You're probably anxious to get started, so I'll dive in. If you're reading this at your desk, you'll notice I've collected a few odds and ends to help with the business of running a newspaper.
To your right there is a stack of napkins. These are ostensibly for when you are eating, but, as you'll confide in the emotionally distraught editors who inhabit your office from time to time, they are really for crying into. Remember that it’s not a sign of weakness to admit that you use them for this the most.
Behind you, there is the couch. It is handy for interviews.
Behind the couch, there are about 400 loose chili sauce packets. These can be combined liberally with food when you want to try to feel something again.
The couch also serves as a place for your co-editors to sit when they need to take a break from the world outside. They will appreciate it if you close your office door, put on some music and just sit with them awhile. If you’re lucky they’ll even tell you something about their life. If you’re luckier, they’ll ask you for advice and make you feel like you might actually know what you’re talking about for once.
If you’re really lucky you’ll actually open-up for once, accidentally feel everything you've been trying not to feel for the past three months all at once, and ugly-cry together about life and the soul-crushing anxiety of how you’re both going to make it in a dying industry. (Remember: napkins). This is arguably the best part of the job. It’s also how I learned most of the useful things in my life, so make sure to pay attention when it happens.
Regardless, avoid telling your interview subjects or other editors about the other things that have happened on the couch. Don’t think about it too much yourself, either. If the couch could talk, it would only scream.
Speaking of interview subjects: as head of the paper, you’ll basically have your pick. You can sit at a table with anyone with a modicum of power at UBC and beyond, because you run a newspaper. How fucking cool is that?
The answer is that it is really cool.
But it’s also really scary. We’re not The New York Times, but keep in mind that people read us, including people who might want to hire you in a year or two. What you should not do is remind yourself of that every time you make a mistake, get flustered or have no idea what to do, or tie your self-worth directly to the success of the paper. But you will.
Those times are good opportunities to use the couch. Talk out your problems with your co-editors, who, believe it or not — and you should really, really try to believe this, because it’s true — like you just as much as you like them.
This brings me to the final subject of your transition report: the Ubyssey editors and staff. As you know, they’re good people. It might seem like they hate you at times, but, like you, they’re probably just tired.
Like you, they’re tired because they have lots of homework. They’re tired because they just finished transcribing half an hour of nonsense from an AMS executive who’s just as tired as they are. They’re tired because they just made something incredible, but they can’t see it yet because they’re too busy looking at the incredible things everyone else is making and feeling totally, completely inadequate.
Like you, they probably need someone to point at their thing and tell them how incredible it is, and how incredible they are too.
Oh — before I go, one more thing about your office: on a sticky note stuck to your monitor you'll find my phone number. Don't lose it! It might come in handy if you ever need to ask a question I haven’t answered in this transition report.
Of course, you can always use it just to check in — talk through an editorial, brainstorm what to tweet back at an aging columnist with an attitude problem, or tell me a funny story about a staff meeting that went off the rails because someone started an argument about what constitutes a sandwich, and everyone got way too into arguing, and they were laughing but there was also an edge to it, like, “Fuck you, I’m right,” that came from spending hundreds of hours cooped up in a tiny office with people you love, frantically trying to pour as much blood and sweat and art into the one thing you all care about way, way, way too much.
Please don’t lose it.