Patrick Cao, Editor-in-Chief
I have been the Torch’s Editor-in-Chief since the 2019 fall semester and I have to say, I’ve learned so much.
Before I get too deep into it, I just want to say that what I learned is beyond journalism. I am the first to admit that I am not a journalist or even close to being one. My interests lie in education and human nature, making my reason for being EIC unlike most of those before me; to understand what it means to work with people and to be a leader.
- Pick your battles. When you work with people, arguments are inevitable; especially when said people are young adults in the midst of discovering who they are and are up to their necks in work both inside and outside of school. Sometimes you’re going to be annoyed by an editor or writer and you may want to bring to life those imaginary arguments you had prepared in your head. However, if it’s not urgent (which is usually the case), just keep your cool. Realize that everyone is not as transparent as you think they are. If they’re late with a story or an edit, you don’t have to write that person off as just lazy or unbothered. You never know what that person is going through. Granted, sometimes you have to put your foot down when things get out of hand but understand that the more you spotlight issues that aren’t a real concern, you lessen the ability to be taken seriously when something serious needs to be addressed.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. With anything in life, all you can do is your best. I remember when I first became EIC back in September 2019 and running through a list of all the things I did wrong. Every time a typo was missed and went into print or somebody’s pay was late, I always blamed myself and was riddled with self-doubt. It felt even worse since most of the staff had actual journalistic backgrounds, were well-versed in AP style and admittedly were more qualified than myself. It was only after a few editions that I figured, “Well, I was asked to be EIC and won the position for a reason. I don’t know what reason that is exactly, but it’s a reason nonetheless.” Sometimes a little blind faith is what you need to see more clearly. If you’re going to be a leader, you need to realize that failure is not your enemy, however the way you handle it may be. Either you learn from it and move on or grow complacent and hope the consequences won’t be as bad as you expect them to be.
- Develop a thick skin. From the two semesters I’ve been EIC, I have overheard people judge me for the way I run the paper. I harbor no ill will towards those people; everyone is entitled to their opinion and I would be a liar if I said I was fair every time I judged people. However, the point I want to make is that it is impossible to make everyone happy. No matter what you do, people will say what they want to say. Am I saying to become a cold machine that shouldn’t care about anyone’s input? Of course not. What I am saying is that when you become a leader, people will point the finger at you if something goes wrong in whatever you and your team are working on, and you can’t take it to heart every time. At times, their criticisms are valid and you have to fix whatever mistake you made but there are also times you can give 100% and people will complain that you didn’t give 110%. Being presented with this issue, I’ve learned that you just have to do what you feel is right and not worry about what everyone else thinks. Only you are going to do your job, and only you know what that entails. You can’t let people who haven’t been in your shoes criticize and dictate the way you do said job. Sometimes, the people that speak the most tend to know the least.
- Remember what this is. I love the Torch as much as the next guy, but I know what it is: a learning experience. The Torch isn’t this world-renowned paper that is exposing the corruption of dictatorships overseas or has an unlimited amount of resources to cover said dictatorship. We have bake sales to raise money so we can print. Mind you, I’m not saying people should see the Torch as a joke but they shouldn’t see it as “the end-all, be-all” either. What I’m trying to say is that as EIC, you can’t take everything so seriously. See your experience as a point of reference for your future career. Personally, I want to be a teacher, so I see my experiences as a way to better my leadership and coping skills. If I took the responsibility of being the Torch’s EIC as seriously as some people expect me to, I would lose my mind.
This semester is my last at BCC and as acting EIC and I am going to miss it. Was it hard sometimes? Yes. Would I change a single thing? Not at all. The Torch is where I began to truly learn how to work with others and accept the mistakes I make. To whoever is going to be EIC or is planning on working in a leadership position, please don’t read this article with a cynical mind but rather an open heart.