On May 2, 2011, at about 6:20 a.m., I called my parents. It was the morning Spec's last issue of the semester was coming out—the same issue you're reading right now. I had spent the last eight hours running around campus, reporting at Ground Zero, calling sources in the middle of the night, and putting together an article about Osama bin Laden's death that I am still very proud of today.
My parents had been asleep, so I was the one to break the news to them. I was reeling from the excitement of the news, yes, but more from the thrill of this crazy reporting experience that had me writing through the night, prompting a total reshuffling of the front page and a very late call to the printer.
“That sounds great,” my dad said. “Just try not to have too many more late nights at the paper.”
Well, Dad, I can't say I kept that promise. But I'm glad that, in exchange, I got a lot more nights like May 2. There was Sept. 6, 2012, when I was tipped off that Rhea Sen, who had posed as a first-year during orientation, was being arrested on College Walk, and Steven Lau and I sprinted off to write my favorite story ever. There was April 4, 2013, when we gathered everyone in the office to launch #NewSpec. And there was Nov. 6, 2012, when Henry Willson and I woke up at the crack of dawn, flew to Chicago, and watched Columbia College's most famous graduate get re-elected.
But it's not all about the big moments. There were the many Gchats with my soulmate Sammy Roth when we read each other's minds, there were the ridiculous Timesian headline attempts that never saw the light of day, there was the night I converted to arugula and goat cheese Spec Pizza, and there was much dancing to “Die Young” at 3 a.m.
I know that, starting next year, it's going to feel different. There won't be a concrete paper to pick up every day and say, “We did this.” I know how important that is because sometimes just seeing Spec on the newsstands got me through my day. (And if I walked by a newsstand that had not been delivered that day's paper, trust me, Business would get an angry text about it.) I know how validating it is to see someone on the 1 train reading your article. I know the pleasure of seeing your articles lying around your computer-averse grandmother's house.
But in many ways, it's not going to change. You're still going to have the Big Moments, and you're still going to have the Little Moments. PrezBo will still announce some giant news at 8 a.m. when you conveniently are awake and procrastinating studying for finals, and Kesha [cq, there's no dollar sign in her name anymore] will still write songs you can dance to.
Four months ago, as I finished up my time on corporate board, I thought that the end of the daily print edition was a good three years off, at least. And it might have been, if we made the decision purely for financial reasons. This CB is undertaking it because they want to, because they have the creativity and determination to reinvent the way Spec exists. That drive exemplifies Speccies. It's one of the reasons so many of the people I admire on this campus are those who trudge their way up to our third-floor office day in and day out.
Before coming to Columbia, I told my high school friends—who worried that I would be sucked into the newspaper vortex in college just as I had in high school—that I would wait at least a semester to join Spec. Naturally, I wound up at an open house at 2875 Broadway the first week of September. I met the incomparable Sarah Darville, my future boss for two and a half years. At the first training session a week or so later, Sarah extended her hand and said, “Finn, right?” I had forgotten every face I had met; Sarah had remembered not only many more faces but their names, too. I felt valued from day one, and I knew then I wouldn't be able to stay away.
I didn't think then, however, that I'd wind up on managing board. I really, really didn't think I'd ever wind up on corporate board. Sure, I wanted to leave a mark at Spec, but I wanted to do so many more things. I wanted to pull a Betsy Morais and write the Varsity Show. I wanted my friends not to think of me as a hologram.
But I stayed with Spec because of the amazing people who brought me these amazing moments—these moments which are eternal to the Spec experience, in any medium. And for all that, I am truly grateful.
Finn Vigeland is a Columbia College senior majoring in urban studies. He was an associate page design editor for the 135th volume, a deputy news editor for the 135th volume, city news editor for the 136th managing board, and managing editor for the 137th corporate board.
Read the rest of this year's senior columns here.
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