When I began the application process to become The Gonzaga Bulletin’s fall semester editor-in-chief (EIC) the idea of a pandemic changing the world wasn’t even a conceived thought in my mind.

I was preparing for my interview thinking about new ways to share basketball games and theater performances through social media. I was thinking about ways to integrate our writing and photo staff into one big productive community. I was thinking about what a normal semester as EIC would look like.

A month later when I scheduled my interview none of those normal things came to mind.

I was thinking about how to run a newspaper fully online if we didn’t return to campus in the fall. I was thinking about editors I might have to replace because they could go aboard. I was thinking of a new logistical nightmare that no one could have thought of just a few months ago.

When my interview rolled around, I wasn’t speaking with the person scheduling me casually over donuts in our office and worrying about what shoes I was going to wear like I expected. I was doing it via email not so patiently awaiting my Zoom interview and trying to figure out if my childhood bedroom was a professional enough background or if I should move into my parents’ office for the interview.

Being EIC was a dream I had since I applied to be a staff writer at the end of my freshman year. I knew I wanted this job but when it came to be my turn to take the reins the world had changed, and the way news is presented changed right along with it. And meanwhile I’m here holding onto those reins trying desperately to not fall off with the view of a normal stint as EIC fading away in my rearview mirror.

I knew that even though taking on this job in this time terrified me and the future of our work was changing on literally a daily basis it was important for me to hold on tight and get ready for a wild and incredibly unprecedented ride because the importance of what we do in the next year overrides any anxiety I have about this whole situation.

Going into next year no one really knows what it is going to look like. We try to know, and we make plans as if we know but the reality is we don’t and we won’t know until September when school starts and even then what follows after the school year begins is unpredictable.

All I know for certain is come hell or high water The Gonzaga Bulletin will publish work be it online or in print because even if school stops the news doesn’t and we have a responsibility to report it. 

When we moved to online only publication in March my former boss at The Bulletin, Morgan Scheerer, tweeted: “For anyone wondering,

@GonzagaBulletin WILL continue to produce digital newspapers and share all news. The news stops for nothing and no one, and neither does my incredible staff.”

When we were faced with a situation that none of us could have expected in even our most outlandish predictions of what would happen in the world our boss immediately got back up and so did we and that’s the mentality we will go into next year with.

We know the importance of what we are doing and even though we are sailing in uncharted waters my staff and I are ready and willing to take on this uncertainty.

Our “big stories” this year won’t center around acclaimed speakers and our nationally ranked basketball team but rather it will focus on documenting Gonzaga’s history as it makes its way through a year unlike any before it.

Gone are the photo stories of happy students on Welcome Night and now comes a photo story about a new staggered and socially distant move in.

Gone is the classic basketball game coverage and now comes stories about the survival of the athletics department when sports are pretty much nonexistent.

Gone is the holiday season celebration with the staff and now comes planning for producing news when we are finishing finals from our homes after Thanksgiving.

Our work now will look different and it will be challenging but it will be remembered.

We’ve learned from day one at GU that the work we do matters and has the potential to change the world. That is true now more than ever.

Every story we write, every photo we take, every page we design, every interview we schedule and  every post on Twitter we will be truly creating the first draft of history — a chapter of history that will eventually be taught in classrooms.

It may not have been what I expected when I began my journey at The Bulletin but it’s an adventure and more importantly an opportunity. An opportunity to take on a challenge no one before us has ever faced.

I’m more than willing to take this on with an incredible staff made up of students who are committed to telling important, truthful and responsible stories.

This pandemic won’t stop for anyone, but this pandemic will be hard pressed to find us stopping for it.

Riley Utley is the editor-in-chief. Follow her on Twitter: @rileyutley.


Major: Journalism I came to work at The Bulletin to gain valuable skills in reporting and editing to enhance my work as a journalist.

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