34 years well spent

Christopher Palanuk // The Torch
Torch production Adviser Dorothy Wearne (middle) works with illustrator Cat Frink during production night on June 6. Wearne, the longest serving Torch adviser, dedicated her wisdom and time to The Torch staff for 34 years.

Next fall when I read the first edition of the Torch, it’ll be from a different
perspective. After quite a few years as the production adviser for the Torch I’ll be
reading Lane’s independent student newspaper, not as someone involved in the
day-to-day process, but as the average reader. I look forward to seeing the changes
that will go on in the newsroom.

The Torch will most likely change from the current weekly print version as it’s been done for the last 52 years. It might become bi-weekly. It might change in format — from tabloid to magazine format. Beyond those changes, I’m confident that the content published in the Torch will remain true to the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics.

As an educator I’ve enjoyed the challenge of working with students who want to learn about the newswriting, photography and design skills that are involved in producing a newspaper. As a colleague I’ve been delighted to work with news advisers who are content experts and have shared their knowledge, not just with the Torch students but with me, too.

Being a member of the Torch staff, also known as a “Torchie,” has never been a course requirement and although some Torchies get paid, no staffer gets anything close to minimum wage for the hours they invest. That means the people I have worked with and advised over the years have chosen to work for and create this award-winning publication. They have worked long, hard hours, they have produced a good product and they have won many awards.

When someone my age hears the word “pacemaker” it could be cause for concern, but last year I welcomed it in a different context when the Torch earned its first nomination as a finalist for the highest award in college journalism from the Associated Collegiate Press. The award is called a Pacemaker and The Torch was one of three community colleges along with 25 four-year schools to be honored as a finalist for this Oscar-equivalent award, in terms of student journalists. This was a nomination for a student newspaper from a school that doesn’t have a journalism program. What Lane does have, and has always had, is the support of the college’s administration for an independent student media. I’ve always been very grateful for that.

The technology has changed drastically in my time at the Torch. I started at Lane before Macs were invented. Whether we were producing the newspaper doing paste-ups with X-acto knives or using the most recent software there is one thing that hasn’t changed — the dedication shown by the student journalists. They still prove to me day after day that they want to cover stories that matter and I have loved being able to help them in the process.