Oxford commas, em dashes and parenthetical notes are just a few of the things that make Michelle Newblom happy. A writer, poet and record-breaking track star, she has a strange obsession with literary devices, which should come in handy next year when she takes the helm as editor-in-chief of the Spectator.
Newblom started working here one year ago as a staff writer during spring quarter. Before applying for a staff position, though, she came in as a volunteer. She remembers feeling scared and intimidated.
“I was like, ‘wow, these people know how to write, and they’re journalists, and they know what they’re doing, and I just write angsty poetry.’ I just sat there and listened. I didn’t pitch anything, and when people called for volunteers, I didn’t raise my hand,” Newblom said. “That happened for about four weeks. I’d just come in and sit there. I would never muster up the courage to take a story.”
But she did, and within months she earned a staff position and soon after that became Sports Editor, where she redefined the section by increasing coverage of social justice issues.
“It wasn’t like I didn’t feel welcomed at the Spectator. I was just a scared little freshman. I didn’t want to take a story then write it poorly,” Newblom said. “But you should learn from my mistakes and take stories, and even if you write them poorly, you have wonderful editors who will help make your writing less poor.”
Newblom is pursuing a degree in creative writing with a minor in writing studies to one day become a writer. Her dream, she said, is to write the next great American novel. She has a soft spot for fiction, and, among them, Stephen King’s work is some of her favorite. Between her time as a writer and then later as an editor, Newblom said she gained a greater sense of awareness of the process and the community she was writing for.
“It gave me a much better grasp being in the room Monday nights and seeing what stories got pitched and what got taken. That gave me a good general sense of what the Spectator aims to represent,” she said. “Writing allowed me to, first and foremost, understand what kind of news is pertinent to our community…Being able to edit let me see the behind the scenes process I wasn’t exposed to my first year.”
The Spectator has had its fair share of ups and downs. Widespread dissent following its coverage of Dance Marathon, queerphobic comments from President Sundborg and campus wide public forums elicited by a cover photo of the annual Drag Show have tested the competence and aptitude of the paper’s editorial board. Not only that, Seattle University has undergone seismic changes in the past nine months. The abrupt end of a union battle, the discovery of a professor’s felony conviction of sexual abuse of a minor, and plans to build a new $100 million building have, in some ways, reshaped the university beyond recognition. But, through it all, the Spectator has been there.
“We’re writing about stuff that people might otherwise not know about. Since we’re the only paper on campus, it falls on our shoulders to deliver the news,” Newblom said.
As for next year, Newblom wants the Spectator to pursue deeper inclusivity, as well as to continue publishing investigative articles.
Next year’s editorial board consists of faces both new and old. The Spectator represents a microcosm of Seattle U, and with Newblom leading the newsroom, they’ll face new challenges next year to inform the community as its sole news source.
“Next year is going to be a great year. We have a wonderful staff and I think that we’re going to take what the seniors and the old editorial board have done and keep expanding on it further,” Newblom said. “Next year is just going to be full of a lot of laughter, a lot of great articles from A&E, news and sports, some awesome features, and I think the whole time we’re doing it, we’re going to be professional, but we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Editor’s note: To next year’s editorial board—Michelle, Frances, Sophia, Josh, Jordan, Alec, Jacqueline, Elise, Haley and Anna—and to all of the staff, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for inheriting the paper. The work we do is hard and often unappreciated—sleep will elude you and caffeine will become your closest friend—but never forget that you are necessary to this community, even if they don’t know it.
Nick may be reached at