Off the Beat: Editor's note: Thank you!
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Category: Opinion > Columns
I had no intention of joining The Daily Californian four years ago. I had never written for a newspaper, and I had no interest in journalism. Had it not been for my obsession with music, I wouldn't have even applied, and when I did, I wanted only to be a critic. Yet here I am now, on page three, writing a column after the conclusion of my term as editor in chief and president of the Daily Cal.
When I arrived at Berkeley as a 16-year-old freshman, I wanted a low-key college career, but I never made a better choice in my life than joining the most prominent newspaper in Berkeley. Because of this unforgettable experience, I could talk about numerous topics right now: the amazing people I worked with, the stories I wrote or the seemingly impossible odds this staff has consistently beaten.
But instead, I want to talk about the most meaningful lesson I learned at this organization. I want to talk about failure.
Over the course of the last year - hell, the last four years - I have failed greatly, in my life, in my work and in my education. In my time as editor in chief, I have run front-page notes correcting inaccurate information in our newspaper. I have mishandled sensitive situations. I have made wrong calls.
But I learned from these errors, and I never let them make me fear failure so much that I lost my will to try.
Too often, we view failure as horrendous, something to be embarrassed about. We forget that high-profile fiascoes have positively changed the lives of legends. It didn't matter in the long run that Kobe Bryant airballed multiple crucial shots against the Jazz in the 1997 playoffs - it marked a turning point in his tireless quest for greatness. It didn't matter that Pete Townshend never saw his rock opera Lifehouse come to fruition - his next rock opera, Quadrophenia, was an epic.
We must recognize that sometimes, failure is simply the result of a risk worth taking.
In the competitive atmosphere of UC Berkeley, it can be easy to worry about messing up. Sometimes, you might even spend more time avoiding mistakes than you do searching for success. But a college career without missteps is one without risks, and a college career without risks is one not worth having.
We shouldn't ignore failure, either. Indeed, newspapers write endlessly about errors of others, and readers talk endlessly about the errors of newspapers. An important part of our society is recognizing mishaps. But the possibility of disaster or censure should never be the basis for doing nothing at all. We should work toward goals, not dodge difficulties.
During the first month of my editorship, I called my predecessor, Will Kane, to ask for his advice on a matter. At the end of the conversation, I paused, and then asked him, "Do you ever stop making mistakes?" "No," he replied. "You just learn to get over them."
Last week, I repeated this statement to Tomer Ovadia, my successor, as I passed control of the organization to him. Tomer has not only been an exemplary reporter and editor but also a great friend, and I know that he will be bold moving forward and never fear taking wrong turns in his search for success. I hope that every one of his employees does the same next year.
The Daily Californian has been my life over the last four years, and there are many stories that I could have written about in this column. But no lesson in my life has been more important than this one, and I can rest easy knowing that even if I failed in conveying it to you, at least I tried.
I owe thanks to:
My father, for his wisdom.
Evante, for being my XO on this Battlestar.
Jill, for her advice, friendship and casual insults.
SMLee, for teaching me.
Valerie, for her undying support throughout my college experience.
John, for his knowledge and for his love of college basketball.
Brad, for his humor and creativity and for making crazy ideas come to life.
Matt Wilson, for his work ethic and brilliance, and the cups of coffee he bought me.
Adam Goldstein, for being the lawyer I aspire to be.
James Wagstaffe and Daniel A. Zaheer, for their help.
And every editor and reporter at the newspaper, for the care they put into their jobs.
Most importantly, I thank every reader. Whether you love us, hate us or fall somewhere in between, we would not exist without you. This is your newspaper, and it always will be.
Contact Rajesh at [email protected]
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