Recently, lofty rhetoric has enveloped the senior class. Congratulations on culminating our high school education, reaching an apocryphal turning point, and starting the beginning of a new journey from an array of family members, friends, and teachers have been ubiquitous. I’ll admit that sometimes the feel-good celebratory and nostalgic gestures are great. But far too often, they obstruct seniors from paying attention to what matters most: the details.
Paying attention to the details was one of the hardest and most valuable lessons I learned in Journalism class. I studied and tried to perfect it as a Staff Writer, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper. It is the golden rule of the King Street Chronicle’s (KSC) advisor and Journalism teacher, Ms. Larson, and a phrase that applies far beyond the newsroom.
As a staff writer, I thought attention to detail meant correcting smaller things like grammar, punctuation, and, of course, the KSC Style Guide. Yet no matter how long I slaved over an article, I was missing something: a period, a phrase, or, in one case, the correct spelling of a teacher’s name.
I found myself frustrated with Journalism. I couldn’t understand why my endless hours straining my eyes over a computer screen did not equate to a “perfect” article.
Over the course of my 3 years on this newspaper staff, however, my perspective changed. Attention to details was more than just editing articles with a fine-toothed comb. It was also observing and noticing the minute, ordinary aspects of the world around me. It was seeking out fresh stories in our school community, finding inventive angles, and collaborating with reporters, editors and faculty. It was recognizing reporters and editors on the staff that had gone the extra mile, and creating a newsroom culture that appreciated hard work and galvanized staff members to do their best.
As time progressed, I realized that “attention to detail” was not as defined as I thought. Each and every element, from the lede, to the quotes, the topic, the angle, and the grammar collectively combined to create an almost-perfect whole. I learned that a 21st century journalist’s job is ceaseless, constantly changing, and difficult. But I’ve loved it all the same.
I encourage all of you, whether a journalist or not, to take a moment to look for the details. Find minute, meaningful aspects of your life. Work hard to perfect the details. And, ultimately, look at how these details coalesce. I cannot promise it will be easy, but it will be worth it.
I do not credit the editorial board I’ve been an active part of for the past two years for any revolutionary change to the KSC. I was only a staff writer when the maverick Class of 2013 transitioned our paper to online. Rather, I’d like to think that the paper’s legacy over the past two years is one of astute attention to detail. While gradual, these small, almost infinitesimal aspects have contributed to an improved whole.
So to Ms. Larson, KSC staff writers and editors past and present, thank you. It’s just a detail, but it’s an important one.
– Grace Isford, Editor-in-Chief