One year ago, Tom Mitchell wrote his first editorial as Palatinate’s Editor-in-Chief, and the first editorial of a new decade. The paper, he wrote, had “the entirety of the Roaring Twenties ahead of us”.
“Perhaps, come 2030, a future Editor-in-Chief of Palatinate (currently still at primary school) will find themselves pompously harking back to the halcyon days of 2020 and wondering how it all changed so quickly.”
With the hindsight provided by the Whimpering Twenties’ first 12 months, it is a good job Tom didn’t take a graduate job in fortune telling.
Things have changed far quicker than anyone could possibly have imagined.
This time last year, our Editorial Board met together every fortnight to plan our content for the next print edition, heading to The Swan for a few pints afterwards. The next weekend, we’d lay up in our office in the SU. We’d meticulously check our pages, again and again and again, well into the small hours. We’d send the pages to the printers. We’d distribute in person. We’d do it all again two weeks later.
Our financial situation was secure, and coronavirus was something in China which no one really knew, or cared, very much about.
12 months on, and here we are. We don’t meet in person, only over Zoom. We lay up on our own computers. We’ve been unable to distribute in person. And to start this term, because most students aren’t actually in Durham, we aren’t going to print.
Of fundamental importance is that our financial situation remains insecure, with no commitment yet from the SU to provide our usual print funds next year.
In spite of this short and incredibly stressful space of time, we have achieved a hell of a lot during it: a voice for the issues that matter to you, our readers; a redesigned website; a reinvigorated social media presence; an aesthetic print edition with bespoke illustrations and photographs by Durham students; a record one million online article views, doubling our previous annual best; a fully-fundraised print budget for this academic year following its withdrawal by the SU in September; and a continued place for students to gain unrivalled experience and skills for future careers.
This would not have been possible without the support of our student volunteers, our alumni, our friends – who know who they are – and you.
But now is not the time to give ourselves a proverbial pat on the back. Our situation, without action, lies precariously balanced and as my two terms as Editor-in-Chief commence, there is still much to be done.
This term, you can expect to see increased advertising in print and online as we look towards a dual funding model of advertisements and donations to secure a sustainable financial future. Our newly appointed advertising and financial teams will pioneer the implementation of this, while our alumni can anticipate stronger bonds between themselves and Palatinate through our soon-to-be inaugurated alumni association.
If you want to support the continuation of student journalism in Durham, please consider donating to our Friends of Palatinate Appeal. However much or however little you can spare, whether on a one-off or recurring basis, we cannot tell you how much it is appreciated.
In the three weeks between New Years’ Day and today, the members of our Editorial Board each attempted to run, walk, cycle or otherwise move 83.5km to celebrate our 74th year as a print newspaper. Our Comment Editors, Cerys and Harrison, led the way for much of it but the winners are yet to be confirmed.
This edition, 835, is stacked with fantastic content and was an absolute dream to lay up thanks to the hard work of our new sub-editing team led by Ishita and Naomi.
We’ve introduced three new sections, the first of which, a cartoon, is above this editorial, Puzzles, unsurprisingly, offers a range of conundrums for you to enjoy, and is a brilliant way to procrastinate.
If you’re looking for love during lockdown, PalatiDates can set you up with a Zoom blind date, provided you agree to answer questions about it and have them published! You can sign up here: https://forms.gle/CzEUh7q9bZQwBNE39
In spite of all the challenges, it is going to be nothing short of a pleasure to steer Palatinate towards the future and follow in the footsteps of some journalistic titans.
Laying up the first edition of our 74th year of print alongside Tash, my wonderful fellow Editor-in-Chief, and the rest of the Editorial Board has been an absolute pleasure.
So here’s to Palatinate, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed making it.
Image: Imogen Usherwood