People who knew me well predicted that I would be rough and snappy for the next couple of weeks. And so it came as a surprise to no one when I told several close friends that I just came back from “that shabby underground office where those weird newspaper people hang out” and did a very bad job at giving off a good first impression.
But I was accepted. These weird people saw something in me when I was at my absolute worst, and fate would have it that I would become a part of The Harbus.
When about 6 months later I interviewed for the editor in chief position, I remember that the people on the other side of the table were a bit taken aback when I said “you should select me because I hate reporters”.
“Excuse me?” said Alex Kleiner, ex-EIC of The Harbus.
“I’m serious,” I said. “Everyone has this stereotypical idea about reporters that’s just terrible. That they’re intrusive, untrustworthy, would do anything for a story, place quotes out of context, and generally just… not very nice people.”
“So what do you propose?” Alex asked.
“I want to change that impression,” I said. “I want to bring people into what we’re writing. Tell them how we want to approach a certain topic, ask for their input and respect if they don’t want to give it, and generally win over peoples’ trust.”
While I think my sales pitch had little to do with why I was ultimately recommended to and confirmed by the Harbus’s Board of Directors, I tried my best for 12 months to stay true to it.
So after recruiting a truly brilliant team (guys, if you’re reading this, thank you), we started listening to people on campus. We wanted to know what they really cared about, and how we could help.[stag_dropcap font_size=”50px” style=”normal”]A[/stag_dropcap]nd then we started writing. After a bit of a fiasco with the article uncovering the truth about Section X (we asserted that it simply doesn’t exist, but in the time leading up to its release accidentally led people to believe that we would be exposing names and pictures of Section X’ers), we wrote about the value of introversion at HBS, surveyed people on student clubs and released the results, critiqued the student officer election process, dug deeper into student sentiment about HBS (“Do you like HBS?”), addressed the details of SA budget, and then measured HBS’s Net Promoter Score. It didn’t hurt that our April 1st edition broke all kinds of records, and was a great way to end the year (our tracking data shows that the article made its way around McKinsey’s intranet!)
We tried to couple all of these front page exposés with interesting op-eds by students and distinguished faculty. We also did our best to cover major events taking place on campus by expanding resources and stretching ourselves.
While content was getting better, we still had to address that dreaded nightmare: distribution. We lobbied for more newsstands around classes, turned our website upside down, established a strong presence in social media, started sending out a weekly digital newsletter, and revamped the design of our print edition.
To cover all of that increased cost, we had to sell more print and digital ad space. We also increased the admission products that we sell. We’re happy to say that we managed to come out with a good end-of-year surplus after things looked morbid for quite a while.
And now comes the time of handing the baton to someone who I know will do an incredible job: Steve Hind, ladies and gentlemen.
Steve has been our Managing Editor for this past year. He’s smart as hell, pretty funny, perceptive, studious, and has produced some of the best journalism I have ever seen.
So sit tight: you’re about to witness a totally different era of The Harbus take shape.
For me, time simply flew by. Although it was a sizeable time commitment, it didn’t feel burdening. I loved every moment of my tenure as The Harbus’s editor in chief, and I tried to serve you guys to the best of my abilities. I’m graduating this May, and I’ll seriously miss this place.
I hope you think we’re doing a good job. And if you don’t, then jump in and make us better. Like I said at the beginning of the year, God knows we’re not perfect.
It’s been a pleasure…[stag_divider style=”double”]