Print media preserves the past

By Mary Chan

Hardcore Gauntlet editors and volunteers can often be found going through the bound editions of our old issues, carefully turning over faded, yellowed pages of newsprint. It is a fascinating exercise because the bound editions date back to 1961/62, the Gauntlet’s second year of existence. As the closest thing we have to Gauntlet artifacts, they give us a better understanding of our past, and show us our roots forming over the decades.

And what’s truly amazing is that we can see it at all.

The most simultaneously reassuring and frightening thing about working in print media is its permanence. We still have the printed record of what student journalists wrote, thought and produced 40 years ago–a tangible, tactile connection to the past. However, the Gauntlet is also a permanent record of missteps like poorly written articles and embarrassing typos. Even if an offending issue sits on the stands for only one week, it will exist forever in scrap books, bound editions and the online archives. In one form or another, the Gauntlet, in its full glory and shame, will always be there.

What the bound editions fail to record is the intangible Gauntlet experience. While we can read the articles and see the photos that appear every week, no one chronicles what happens in the days leading up to publication. It’s a shame, because what doesn’t appear on the pages greatly affects the people who work to produce them.

The first time I ever went through an entire year’s bound edition was in January 1999. Another Gauntleteer and I began flipping through the previous year’s bound edition on a slow Thursday afternoon, telling each other stories about how certain interviews were difficult to conduct, or divulging details that were (and still are) unfit to print. Before we knew it, two hours had passed.

I remember that afternoon because it was the first time I ever had an extended conversation with that person, who has since become a good friend. While I am sure that it would have developed eventually, our friendship essentially started when we reviewed that bound edition and triggered those shared memories. The permanence of the bound edition produced the transience of not just the previous year’s memories, but also the ensuing friendship.

What I want to do now, facing a cross-country move after four years at the U of C and the Gauntlet, is render my Gauntlet experience permanent. I have graduated, both from school and this organization, and am trying very hard to distil that abstract experience–everything I have learned, the people I have met, the ways I have grown–into printable words that stand as a small testament to my time here. After much thought and deliberation, it comes to this.

Thank you. And goodbye.


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