Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Unwillingly unplugged

This past Wednesday, in this very space, my colleague Miko Malabute argued we should put down our smartphones, stop watching Netflix and try to reconnect with each other.

It was a very good argument, one I certainly agree with, albeit have trouble actually following through on. But the main server of The Observer was already way ahead of Miko in helping our staff fulfill that goal. On Tuesday morning, the server crashed completely. What that means, essentially, is that almost all the files, templates, presets and graphics we typically use to design and layout the paper were gone. We were unplugged, and not by choice.

Thankfully, we were still able to put out a paper the next morning, one that included Miko's column. The process of production was more than a little hectic, manic and frenzied, and it made for a long night, but it did reinforce two ideas I have come to believe in over the past year or so.

First, it is hugely important that The Observer remains a daily newspaper. I realize there are many members of the Notre Dame and Saint Mary's community who do not read this paper and would not realize if it ceased to be printed on a daily basis. I know that at many other, larger universities, there are no more daily student newspapers, either because of staffing issues, financial difficulty or the sheer amount of time it takes to put out a newspaper five times per week.

All the same, I am convinced that simply by being available to students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni each day, in the dining halls, in class buildings and elsewhere on campus, The Observer remains an integral part of campus culture.

From the passionate letters we receive in the Viewpoint section, to the issues that affect daily life in News, to the interhall football championship coverage in Sports and stories about the local South Bend area in Scene, The Observer exists to reflect and engage with the student body, and that is a continual process, not something that happens once or twice per week. It is an everyday occurrence, and accordingly, we have to cover it every day.

Secondly, I am lucky to work with a group of people who make that philosophy work, every day. When the server crashed, I prepared myself for the possibility that we would not be able to put together a paper, that it would just be too much hard work. But the writers, editors, photographers and designers all surprised me, as they have done again and again in my time as Editor-in-Chief. There were no complaints, just cheerful attitudes and hard work.

So in the end, Miko was right. I may have gone off the grid unwillingly, but it made me appreciate the people around me all the more.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.