I have been in Charlottesville at my editor’s desk for a year now. In this line of work—which is, in a way, about keeping time—it means that I have turned a shift. I’ve always thought of three month-, one year-, and three year-anniversaries as important moments in a job. When you start something new, it takes about three months to come up for air, to start to see what you’re doing and to stop merely trying to learn people’s names, where the files go, what the deadline for this or that may be. A year is a measure of accomplishment, a complete set of work, and for that reason an indication of how far you can push something. Three years is a benchmark of mastery. You understand the parts and the whole, the personalities and the place, the urgency and the boredom of a type of work. By dint of repetition, your effort begins to diminish even as the quality of your work improves.
I trust rules of three. Omne trium perfectum. I realize that this editor’s note isn’t always particularly timely. I rarely react to local news cuts or deliver manifestos on national issues. I don’t even always provide a lens on what we’ve written. Instead, I’ve tried to offer some insight into the job of an editor, to the rhythms and thought patterns, in the hopes of establishing some trust with you, the reader, so you can begin to understand why we put the paper together the way we do. One reader called it “an exercise in pedantry,” which I presume wasn’t a compliment, and while I’d admit to being preachy at times, I’d maintain that I’m trying to lay groundwork for a conversation, not peddle pithy proverbs from the news perch.
Three wishes then, from this editor, for the next year. If you ever read this note and think about it, write me. If you’ve never written a letter to an editor before, write me. If you believe there aren’t enough voices shaping the media conversation, write me.—Giles Morris