The first words from the new editor

By Steve Contorno

The University of Illinois campus is more than a community. It operates like a sovereign state, similar to the Vatican in Italy or Chicago (or at least the Windy City appears that way sometimes). Surrounded by cornfields in all directions, our seemingly secluded institution has taken on the identity of an autonomous state.

The University has its own government, composed of individuals looking out for the best interests of the citizens of Campustown. Accompanying that government is bureaucratic red tape – an unwelcome yet synonymous factor of most governing bodies.

We have commercial businesses and residential areas, law enforcement and churches. We even have our own currency at times: the campus credits we put on our i-Cards (although, I’m not sure how strong the campus credit is compared to the dollar.)

And though we have a truly diverse group of people – whether by race, religion, social status, location, age, what have you – we all call ourselves by one name: Illini. When we arrive at the University, no matter how we identify ourselves, we are all Illini, citizens of this great Campustown and outstanding institution.

As residents, it is necessary for you to be informed about what is going on in and around Campustown. So, not unlike other cities, a media outlet must exist to keep everyone educated on important issues in the community. The Daily Illini is that media outlet.

Since 1871, The Daily Illini has serviced the University as a student newspaper dedicated to informing all Illini. In that time, our editors and writers have changed dozens of times over, as have our building, our look and even our cost (it wasn’t always free). However, one thing remained stagnant: we are a newspaper by students for students (and faculty and community members) independent of the University. That has not changed.

But we have evolved beyond a newspaper into a 24-hour information center. We have a 5 p.m. newscast that airs on 107.1 WPGU during the week, as well as newsbreaks throughout the day, especially, and sadly, when a crisis occurs that our community needs to know about. Our Web site, DailyIllini.com, has grown into an award-winning operation, delivering up to the minute news, Illini sports updates and anything else we think our readers must know about.

Our goal at The Daily Illini is to be the voice of this community, this quasi-city. However, as the new editor in chief, I would be naive to think that we always accomplish this task. Though the people that work alongside me are the most dedicated individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, we realize that we are students and we have faults.

But from our faults we can learn and from learning we can become a better informer, watchdog and voice for this University and all that call themselves Illini. Each day is a new challenge for us, but we look forward to proving ourselves to our readers and listeners, as we have done for 137 years. This isn’t a class for us or even a club; we treat this as a job and we take it seriously. Otherwise, how could we expect you to take us seriously?

During my time as editor in chief, I want to help The Daily Illini develop a closer connection with the students, faculty members and voices in the community that define our publication. I would like to meet with the various RSOs, colleges, administrators and cultural houses on what they would like to see from our print, on-air and online products. It is my hope that a more connected Daily Illini will help us cover the issues that our readers and listeners want to know about and will allow us to put an ear to the ground so we can keep a watchful eye on Campustown 24 hours a day.

But The Daily Illini cannot exist on its own. I know what I want The Daily Illini to do for this community. What do you want it to do for you? Send in letters to the editor. Comment on our Web site articles. Tip us off if you think something should be investigated, or let us know of an important issue you think we should be covering. I encourage you to be an active reader; it will only help us become better informers.

We are the voice of the Illini. Let your voice be heard.