Letter from the Editor

Darby MurnaneEditor-In-Chief

Dearest readers,

    We close out the year with the spring’s final issue of the Farmington Flyer. As with the previous issue, we are still solely online with our contributing writers and reporters scattered across Maine and the U.S. Our stories in this issue continue to look outward from the UMF campus and cover a greater range of material from as many regions as our writers reside. 

    It is strange not to be holding the final issue in my hands, not to be writing these words on campus but rather from six states away. This is certainly not the proper ending to my time on Flyer that I had imagined, but so very few endings ever feel right and proper. So I will take what I have and make of it what I can. 

    Though this may be an ending for me, it is a beginning for the new staff who will be taking the reins on the paper for the year to come. I’d like to introduce Portia Hardy and Colin Harris as the new Editor in Chief and Assistant Editor. The current Assistant Editor and Secretary Emma Pierce will be guiding the new staff into their roles with her experience and expertise, as well her unending patience from dealing with me. 

     And to Portia and Colin, I offer you some advice that hopefully can be construed as wisdom and thoughts to keep with you as you take this paper and make it your own: This is the time to practice looking at the world with a more piercing gaze than you would’ve looked with before. There is always another layer to a story, another question to ask, another perspective to seek, another angle to consider. Pay attention to the story itself- this might sound silly, what else would you be paying attention to? But sometimes the story knows how it wants to be told, how it needs to be told, and if you don’t pay attention, you run the risk of telling it wrong as some stories require a specific form and voice. You will miss things- constantly. But don’t be afraid of that. Learn to ask yourself, “What am I missing? How do I find it?” Ask for help. This is not a job done alone, and should never be. I would never have survived without my fellow editors and relied daily on the support of their teamwork. And beyond even the staff, remember that this job is done with the help of those who agree to talk to you. Never forget your sources and the favor they have done you by donating their time and voices. Remember your empathy. If you don’t have an honest connection to your sources, if you don’t earn their trust, you have nothing. If a story of some sensitivity and weight lands on your desk, your every decision should be made with respect, dignity, and care. Not every detail, not every piece of a person, is meant for a larger audience. 

    Remember your grit, your resilience, your spine. It is your job in your reporting to maintain accountability and transparency. It’s your job to ensure nothing stays hidden or swept under the rug. But sometimes doing that job will start a fire. Even a small student paper like ours can, and has, sparked change. There will be days when it feels like everyone and their grandmother is coming after you. And it may induce the urge to throttle someone. Resist the urge, I beg you. And listen. Has there been a mistake? If so, how do you fix it? If you can swear up and down that you’ve done everything right, you may very well feel a wave of righteous anger, a sense of how dare you, and feel as though you should express all those feelings in the strongest possible terms. Don’t. If you can, wait 24 hours to collect yourself. If you can’t wait and an immediate response is required, never underestimate the power of asking “Can you tell me about your concerns?” It’s when you refuse to listen that a real problem will arise. 

    An editorial position is a lot to take on and I will not hide that from you. Just take it one story, one issue at a time and have mercy on yourself.

    And to you, dear readers, be gentle. A student newspaper staff is perpetually in the learning curve as roles change hands every year. But still, hold us accountable as we hope to hold the community accountable. We will never continue to grow if our faults are hidden from us.

    Thank you for your time, your voices, and your stories. Until we meet again.

Goodnight and Good News,

Darby Murnane, Editor-In-Chief 2019-2020

Letter From the Editor

Dear Farmington Flyer Readers,

    I write to you from my home in central New Jersey, where I have been careful to distance myself from others as the cases of and deaths from COVID-19 in my home state skyrocket. As all University of Maine System (UMS) campuses have closed for the remainder of the semester and some of the Flyer staff, such as myself, have had to leave Farmington, we are moving the remaining Flyer issues for this spring to be solely online. 

    Some of our stories are going to look different as well, due to the move from print to a solely digital platform. As we rely on our contributing writers for the majority of our content, some of our coverage will be less UMF centered than what we typically run as many of our contributors are scattered across Maine and the U.S. The pandemic touches everyone and everything, and we are choosing to acknowledge that in our stories as we cannot write as if any one place or person is isolated and unaffected by the virus. 

    We still plan to run our fifth and final issue of the semester which should be posted Monday, April 20. Our staff remains diligent in tracking any and all UMF campus updates and we will be reporting on them as they happen. 

    As editor in chief, I grieve for the loss of my final semester in the position, for not being able to see out the final months of my UMF journalistic career on campus with my friends and my staff, and for not being able to hold a hard copy of my last Flyer issue in my hands. Some of you may have seen me in the student center during the last week on campus, soberly handing out our third print issue and bemoaning it being the last print issue of my undergraduate work as a journalist. I often say, “We’re a two-bit peasant student paper and we know it,” but it is said with the utmost affection for a paper and a staff that I cherish. It’s said with pride and appreciation for the people behind the publication that have spent hours hunched over laptops and scattered papers in the Flyer office, slaving over meticulous edits and hunting down more sources and information to round out a story for the best possible coverage for our readers, until ultimately, we fall asleep on our creaky, old futon. 

    I’ve been known to refer to the Flyer as my baby, and though it may be a strange choice of words, there is truth in the sentiment. This is a project that was passed down to me with trust and confidence that I would work to do right by the paper and readers. And I hope that I have done right. It’s a project into which I’ve channeled so much of my time and myself with love for the work and craft of reporting. Working on the Flyer has been integral to my growth not just as a writer and aspiring reporter, but as a person. 

    There have certainly been mistakes: wrong dates, misspelled names, articles pulled back at the last minute. And I thank my staff for catching those mistakes and swiftly correcting them. Though, I know I will never live down misspelling the name of my friend and WUMF e-board member Syl Schulze as “Sly.” 

    And I know that none of our work on the Flyer could be accomplished without you, dear readers. You are the ones who even allow us to have stories to run in the first place, by donating your time and voices, and letting us into a story when you could’ve said no, as many do. Our work only exists because of the simple fact that you agreed to talk to us. For that, we cannot properly express our gratitude. Please keep using your voices and using them loudly in a time when free speech and a free press are more integral to society than ever. 

Goodnight and Good News,

Darby Murnane, Editor in Chief