EIC: One hell of a year

By Keith Hernandez

As the headline so gracefully puts it, 2015 has been full of surprises for me.

My first big surprise was getting hired as the Northern Star’s managing editor in January, a high point for a student who barely graduated high school. My second, however, set a worrisome tone not only for journalism, but for anyone who wants freedom from persecution: the Charlie Hebdo attack in which gunmen killed 12 people in retaliation for a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad. That any newspaper could come under attack for an opinion suddenly became a reality.

While the Northern Star did not face a threat of terrorism in 2015 (or ever as far as I know), we have faced attempts at censorship, been accused of collaborating with sources and faced silence from portions of the student body who felt our coverage was slanted.

I won’t mention specifics, dare I awaken those demons again, but I will say I learned really fast what was worth defending and what was not. I am proud to say my staff and I have remained steady in our pursuit to deliver accurate and fair news, admitting when we have been wrong and holding others to the same standard.

My next surprise was becoming editor in chief in May and receiving all the fun baggage that came with the position. At times, it gave me unequivocal joy from the impact I had on the community while at other times, it kept me awake at night wondering if I messed anything up.

There were many bad surprises including Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed $29.3 million cut to NIU funding, but there were also many good surprises such as the DeKalb community coming together to help rebuild Fairdale, a town destroyed by a tornado in April.

Alas, a new year is about to usher in new surprises. I will not lead the Star next year, but I am extremely grateful for the time I have spent here and look forward to an exciting semester as a reporter.