In 2008, the day after Barack Obama won the presidential race, my aunt handed 8-year-old me a copy of the Chicago Tribune. Filling the front page was an image of the president-elect with the headlines “Obama” and “Our Next President.”
“That’ll be you one day,” she said as she handed it over to me. I think she meant president. However, as a second grader I wasn’t even quite sure how one became president — or if I wanted to do it. I did know the paper looked cool, and I felt pretty important holding it.
From there began my love for newspapers. It wasn’t until high school that I got to actually be a part of a paper, as the print news editor for the Downers Grove South Blueprint. Then here, at The Phoenix, first as a writer, then an assistant editor and now as the editor-in-chief.
The conversations have been had — as I’m sure they’ve been had at every student publication across the country — is this the year we stop printing? Illinois State University’s student publication, The Vidette, moved to online-only this fall after 132 years.
It wasn’t even a conversation for my predecessors running the paper, who were confronted with the unthinkable: a pandemic. Our campus was empty, our reporters and editors working out of their homes across the country, the lights in our newsroom were turned off and our computers gathered dust. A pause on printing was inevitable — it was a tough decision that had to be made.
Today, Sept. 15, is the first time The Phoenix has produced a print product in over a year. Why, though? We got really good at publishing stories online. Printing papers takes time, skill and money (quite a bit of money).
I, admittedly, have an unrequited love for print papers. But more than my own infatuation with them went into the decision to keep The Phoenix in print. Like that 2008 paper my aunt gave me, print papers provide us with a physical copy of history. You can feel it. You can flip through the pages and learn what else was happening in the world when these events took place.
In our newsroom lives a table, overflowing with thousands of copies of The Phoenix. This unofficial archive gives us so much more than the thousands of stories published on our website do. Each copy is an untouched look into what mattered that week at Loyola. The front page tells you what was at the forefront of students’ minds — a copy from February 2020 has a story about a few COVID-19 cases on page three. In another copy from March, the pandemic takes up the entire front page.
Print papers may one day become obsolete. But, at The Phoenix we continue to recognize the importance these physical copies of news hold. So, for as long as we can, we’ll continue to print. And we hope you continue to pick up our paper.