A letter from The Pulse’s departing editor-in-chief

Dear Arundel,

Two semesters, three newspapers, and 27 articles later, my time as editor-in-chief of The Pulse has come to a close. My journey hasn’t always been easy, but meaningful endeavors are never easy.

When I became editor-in-chief in the beginning of my senior year, I had a keen vision for the ideal state of The Pulse and Arundel’s journalism program.

I wanted less students writing articles for the mere sake of writing articles, and more purposeful, principled reporting. I also wanted to bring The Pulse out of the far-off corners of the Arundel community and into the spotlight, right where every scholastic journalism program belongs.

But more than anything, I wanted the reawakening of a program that had been dormant for far too long.

Now that my time with The Pulse has come to a close, I can rest assured that my vision has come to fruition. Since my time as the editor, our reporters have banded together to make fantastic achievements.

We have bolstered the program’s presence in Arundel by distributing the school’s first newspaper in years–and have hopefully sparked even a slight interest in newsprint amongst the student body, a medium that remains integral to understanding the journalism field.

We have also had a striking increase in the quality of our reporting and writing, with a steadfast focus on the truth and keeping the student body informed.

With all things considered, I am proud to say that this once-dormant journalism program is now alive and fully-functioning. Of course there’s always room for improvement, but this is only just the beginning.

As The Pulse has grown, I have grown alongside it. This past semester has been a transformative period for my reporting. I have reported on stories that remind me of why I love what I do–stories that have consumed me right up until their publications, stories that I have invested every ounce of my energy into.

Ever since I enrolled in the journalism class, I have been reporting stories, but it hasn’t been until recently that I sat back and realized why I am reporting these stories.

I report for the sake of stellar, principled journalism–a type of journalism that I hope I have instilled into The Pulse. Good journalism stands as a mirror to society. But stellar journalism delves deeper–stellar journalism smashes this mirror, and peels back the facades of institutions for accountability that serves the community and readership.

Through my experience, I have found that this county’s scholastic journalism programs are greatly lacking in this type of principled journalism. I am grateful that Arundel High’s program has overcome this fate, but this does not lessen my concern for the scholastic journalism landscape as a whole.

The fact of the matter is that schools need established, dedicated journalism programs and publications, and I yearn for the day when this need is held as a priority in our county schools. Every level of society must have journalists that act as outlets for information and accountability, and this applies to the scholastic-level as well.

This desire of mine comes at a complicated time with our divisive political climate, which has taken a toll on the reputation of the media as over-blown calls of “fake news” too-often take precedence over quality and fair reporting.

While differentiating fact from fiction is a necessary tool in news literacy, my hope for a future generation of news-savvy individuals lies not in lessons on how to spot “fake news,” but in lessons on the importance of student media and journalism as a whole.

Ensuring this bright journalistic future starts at the scholastic level. Without schools and teachers that prioritize instilling the significance of journalism into the youth, the future of journalism and the presence of future journalists will look grim.

But whenever I fear for what lies ahead for journalism, I look to The Pulse. If this publication can flourish into a well-established publication in no more than two-years time, then any other nascent journalism program or journalistic landscape can too.

Yet a publication is only as good as the people who contribute to it. So for that, I send a sincere thank-you to all who have contributed to The Pulse’s success:

Thank you to the diligent student reporters who have enlivened the publication with their first-rate reporting.

Thank you to the readers who understand the importance of such reporting–and who I hope may someday try their hand at journalism. The Pulse is always looking for more reporters; the publication cannot thrive without them.

Thank you to the teachers who take even a few seconds out of their day to promote student journalism, whether this means watching Wildcat TV or distributing newspapers to their students.

And thank you to my journalism teacher, whose guidance and support has uplifted The Pulse and has led me to my lifelong passion, and whose unwavering belief in me has allowed me to believe in myself.

I know that I have a lot to look forward to once I depart from The Pulse. I’ll be attending Ithaca College in the fall, and I’ll be bringing my journalistic passion with me as I become a journalism major. But despite the bright horizons ahead of me, leaving The Pulse and my journalism class is no-less emotional. Within the walls of room F104, I discovered much more than how to write a lede or a headline. I discovered my one true passion, and an endeavor that gives purpose to my life.

For someone whose passion revolves around the written word, I am truly at a loss for words to describe how much The Pulse means to me. I look forward to checking up on the website in the future and seeing what fantastic journalistic work has been done since my departure.

But still, I hesitate to call this a “departure.” My time as the editor-in-chief of The Pulse has had a lasting influence on me that will never go away. I might be leaving Arundel, but I will never be leaving The Pulse.

Rachel Heller