The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

Colin Johnson

A farewell from the Editor-in-Chief Mackenzie Manley

For more than half of my college career, The Northerner has consumed me.

In fall 2015, I wrote a news story on the first gender-inclusive bathrooms coming to campus. The move came after SGA passed a resolution asking that they be placed in high-traffic areas of campus, but the initiative was one that Bonnie Meyer, director of LGBTQ programs and services, pushed for.

At the time, I was a budding arts & life reporter, but Abby Anstead (then, the news editor), tried to lure me away from Lizzie’s section and into her own. “What you wrote, that’s a solid news piece,” she said. “Want to write more news?”

By that point, I had declared a major in journalism. The following semester, Abby would have her wish: I became assistant news editor and, by March of that semester, I became News Editor.

From there, I was consumed.

I owe my current success, in large part, to those who came before me. Abby saw potential in me and clung to it. When I first started, I was painfully shy. Before interviews, I would pace my dorm room and rehearse questions over and over, afraid my subjects could see my nerves.

But Abby saw what I could be. She and Lizzie were the first people to rip apart my writing and let me put it back together—but better than before. Abby pushed me into covering breaking news events and into tackling lengthy-longform articles.

She taught me what our roles as student journalists meant: We function to hold those with power accountable for their actions and decisions. That included administration, faculty and students in leadership positions. Though I have loved my time at NKU, our campus is not foreign to power imbalances, scandals, political divisions or misgivings.

When problems are ignored, we crumble. Without transparency from those up top, ignorance is bred. More than anything, I am proud to have shed light on stories that needed to heard and understood.

So, thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories and trusting me to tell them as well as I can. Thank you to the administration for allowing me and my student colleagues to hold you accountable—as evidenced by your decision to comply with our recent open records request regarding Dr. Randy Pennington, former choral director, who violated NKU’s sexual misconduct policy.

The Title IX documents given to us were similar to records both Western Kentucky University and University of Kentucky’s student papers requested, repealed and were then sued by their own institutions for.

As an almost former editor-in-chief of a student-run news organization, I’m of the belief that schools should not be suing their students.

Quote me on that.

I also want to thank Matt, who I served under as managing editor last year. You are truly the nicest man I know, and your constant encouragement of my writing and skill helped me believe in myself. I will always look back on our long chats with nostalgia hued lenses.

To Sam I have full confidence in your ability to take the reins next school year. Before you came on staff, I wanted you here. When a breaking news story or rally would arise with no one available to cover it, you were the first person Matt and I sought to ask.

I asked multiple times aloud why you weren’t officially part of our editorial staff, so thank you for finally joining our team (ha). This semester, we’ve covered lofty stories together. You are an organized whirlwind of momentum, and through writing alongside you I’ve been able to strengthen my own reporting two-fold.

I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with the organization I’ve grown to love—to the point where I have dreams about typos in headlines (yes. I know we’ve had them. Don’t worry, I probably cried). I have great faith in the incoming editorial staff. They may be young, but each has potential, and I can’t wait to see where that takes them.

Even though she’s been in England this past semester, I know Nicole will bring it in full force. She brings an undeniable energy to the workplace with natural charisma and charm. Nicole, The Northerner has missed you—and despite your worries to the contrary—will welcome you back with open arms. I’ll miss our chats on everything from music to weird dreams that me and Cole probably never needed to know about. Shoutout to Cole, one of the coolest dudes I know (sorry your real-world job won’t let you wear hats and sneakers everyday).

Chris, my managing editor, has worked his ass off covering athletics. Yes, he even got stuck in Detroit covering the Norse men’s basketball short journey to the Horizon League only to see them lose. No, The Northerner didn’t have enough money to reimburse him for his broken-down car.

Out of anyone on staff, I’ve seen your writing improve the most. This year, you spun columns with voice and vigor that you should be proud of, and I hope you are. Thank you for being dedicated, dependable and pushing our sports content forward almost solo.

Colin, you and Chris are truly the sports dream team. Without your photos, the paper each week would be words slapped artfully on the page. There have been multiple times this semester that you have ran-out and taken photos last minute. Without you, I would have been a frazzled mess. Emerson, you’ve done this, too (and, I have been so impressed with your growth). And Brittney, if it weren’t for you we wouldn’t even have a way to layout our papers each week.

You are an angel sent from newsprint heaven. End of story.

Jude, your writing is beautiful. I know I’ve said it before, but it really is. You know how to move a story and how to arrange sentences so it feels as natural as speaking. Arts & life is a vital part of our paper: it’s an integral outlet to the cultures this campus runs on. You’ve tapped into many of those stories and made moments seem real and tangible through your words. Before this semester, we also lacked reviews. Through your leadership, we brought those voices back.

Natalie and Maria: I am so excited to see what roles you will grow into. As news editor and arts and life editor, I know that your skill sets will be tested and expanded. I am so proud of the work you’ve done, and the work you will do. I’ll miss you all in the newsroom. Even if you don’t see it, you both have drive that will take you far. Basically, I see you as my lil’ newspaper mentees and (as Maria would say) I’m h*ckin’ excited.

To both incoming Joshes: You have already produced content for us that made me believe in your talent, skill and potential. You both have strong voices: use them.

To our advisor, Michele: you always asked for us to put you last on The Northerner staff contact list. So, you’re last here, too. Without your guidance none of us would be here. You may send out countless emails, but throughout my time here you’ve been like a second mom to me—a newspaper mom. The time you dedicate to this paper astounds me, and the care you show us is more than I could ask for. From all of us, thank you. You don’t get paid enough for the hours you spend and the bagels you provide.

I am grateful that I have been able to serve as your editor-in-chief and all the roles I took on prior. This newspaper has given me so much, but I mostly hope it has given to you.

I was taught that journalists are the “voice for voiceless,” but now I’ve realized that this should not be the case. Our sources have a voice—YOU have a voice. We do not own your stories. They are not ours to keep. Empathy: the difference between being a voice for someone and giving them a platform to be heard and understood.

Thank you for letting me listen.

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