Opinion | Andrew’s farewell to The Daily Illini

By Andrew Prozorovsky, Senior Columnist

After four years, my tenure at The Daily Illini is about to officially sunset. So now, although I recently briefly explained The DI’s significance to me, it is time to fully express what The Daily Illini meant to me with the hope that it may inspire new writers or properly commend my current colleagues.

At the beginning of 2019, I was chosen for the opinions section upon applying to The Daily Illini because I was eager and brought a column that I had already written — a response to a column about voter ID laws. I would write weekly as a columnist and then as a senior columnist under two inspirational editors. Then, I was honored to serve as the section editor myself.

At the Illinois College Press Association conference, I won an honorable mention for my article on FOSTA-SESTA. While editor, the opinions section won second place. I wrote the paper’s editorials for a year and had the privilege of writing The Daily Illini’s endorsement for the 2020 election.

As an editor, I worked with a team to produce a professionally-made paper and embraced the value of community that I found at The Daily Illini, even when the pandemic shifted most of our communication and interaction online. I worked to lower the bounce rate, keep readership up, innovate my section and help my writers find their style.

Now, for the first time in my four years at The Daily Illini, we have a female editor — Aparna — who not only signals the diversifying, growing opinions section, but also the importance of young, driven voices at The DI. Each new editor brings a new fashion to the section, and I am eager to see what Aparna’s novel style of leadership will be.

The Daily Illini has made me a much stronger writer, of that there is little doubt. In addition to an investigative journalism class I took, it helped me understand the value of journalism and compelled me to confront it as a legitimate career path after completing my undergraduate program.

When I first started, I wrote exclusively about politics, but my staff profile reflects the personal journeys I underwent during college. Now, I write about copious passions of mine that appeal to a wider audience.

Even already, I don’t endorse every word I ever wrote for The Daily Illini, but you can’t take words back. It doesn’t mean it should never have been written. It just reflects my own journey through college. Let’s hope future employers see it that way, too.

But the best part of The Daily Illini is the people. The hardworking staff dedicates their free time to make the paper as lively as the office atmosphere.

I was repeatedly gleefully stunned by the passion of the workers at The Daily Illini. The underappreciated copy department is full of quick-witted, intelligent AP Style nerds. The graphics department produces awe-inspiring graphics that I feel grateful to accompany with my words. The desk editors become your siblings. They are goofy, they are professional and they do their jobs well. The DI office often feels like, well, an episode of “The Office.”

The opinions section is full of gifted writers. Somehow, it shows that we are the opinions section, as the writers are opinionated, extroverted and approachable. Every section meeting was always more pleasure than business.

Then there are the readers. On occasion, I’ve received fan mail. They meant the world to me. I’ve also received mountains of hate mail in the form of comments attached to my columns or angry emails. To the authors of those eloquent comments and emails, thank you for reading.

I encourage all new students to consider making The DI their home and to be open-minded to other sections where they may not initially be interested. I admittedly joined The DI to be an opinions writer, but I now leave The DI understanding that I would have been happy to be a part of any cog on the well-oiled machine.

As a freshman, trying my hand at all sorts of campus activities, I never would have guessed that joining The Daily Illini would start me on a journey that would define my campus legacy. 

But writing opinions is a fine line — how do you avoid being self-indulgent with your writing? How do you avoid fan service by way of warping your writing based on comments received? What is the reasonable middle ground?

Writing for opinions means constant introspection, such as stressing over the connotation of words and whether the arguments are strong. At times, it means feeling insecure about whether or not your convictions will be well-received. The average columnist will suffer many identity crises and flirtations with imposter syndrome.

I’ll miss the home I found at The Daily Illini. Like the words I spent years writing for a paper and the internet, my love for this place will last forever.

 

Andrew is a senior in LAS.

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