Flames of the Torch: Another semester in the books

This week the Torch released our final newsletter of the semester. What began as a random idea we had in the spring to help us engage digitally with our readers has now become, in a sense, our weekly newspaper.  We craft it the same way, taking story submissions from writers every week and copy editing them over the weekend and into Tuesday evening. Our Design Editor creates our front covers on Tuesday nights too, and afterwards our Digital Editor publishes all of the stories online. We have our weekly meetings on Thursday nights and then do it all over again the next week. Except, this semester we did it all virtually – the Torch’s “new normal,” if you will. 

It has been a long semester, and a strange one, but we have adjusted and churned out stories all the same. Our newsletter audience has grown exponentially, along with our website traffic and our social media presence. And we even have merch! 

This week, as we wrapped up our operations, we talked to students about the most pressing things on their minds at the moment: the nail-biting Presidential Election, the end of a very accelerated semester and we even spoke to one student who is contemplating returning to St. John’s after taking a gap year – a question that many continuing students find themselves also asking. It’s clear that this has been a whirlwind of a year, and while the new year won’t alleviate most of the problems that arose in 2020, a deep sigh of relief will soon be had when we can finally open up our 2021 calendars. 

This week we also introduced a new team of assistants to our Editorial Board. These fresh eyes will not only learn how we do things behind the scenes, but how to adapt to the changing world of journalism and media right alongside us. We’re heading into winter break hoping to refresh ourselves and go into the spring semester with fresh perspectives and newfound curiosity. 

The close proximity of winter break goes to show just how quickly time is passing. Soon, we will be asking ourselves a new set of questions that were just simply thoughts at the beginning of the fall semester — now, it’s crunch time. Many of us on this editorial board are seniors with a final 14 weeks left both as students and as members of the Torch. Will we see our paper in print again before we depart? How will we set our successors up for success? What stories do the 98th editorial board need to tell before May 12? We’ll be taking some time over winter break to work toward the answers to those questions.

We plan on spending some much needed time at home with family and taking a break from publishing content weekly this winter break. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be thinking about what’s next. New stories, fundraisers, Torch events – we’ll be thinking up ways to make our publication more accessible to you, our readers, so that we can hit the ground running come spring. 

So while we say goodbye to a semester of unexpected firsts, we wait in anticipation for a semester that we are much more prepared for. There are still plenty of unknowns, but we’re taking all that we learned over the course of the past four months with us into the spring. From reader feedback to the trials and errors that have gone on behind our screens, we’re ready to buckle up and inch another year closer to our centennial.