The end of an era

I’ll miss the Shadow in college — and I hope the feeling is mutual

The+end+of+an+era

Ahmed Ahmed

Well, I guess this was inevitable.

Yes, that’s right. After almost three years on the Southwest Shadow staff, two years as an editor and one year as the managing editor, I’m exiting stage left. At the end of the month, I will no longer have any role in any capacity on the site, entering college with three exciting, joyous, frustrating and never dull years under my belt.

I don’t consider myself an especially sentimental person, but a part of me is a little sad that I’ll no longer be a writer for the Shadow. For one, I was good at it — I was the first staff member in four years to win the coveted JEA Journalist of the Year award among Nevadans, and I received almost too many accolades to list off. (Does that sound conceited? Maybe a little. But a thing you pick up is that you don’t make it through high school newspaper without developing some self-confidence).

But it’s not just that. I’ll miss editing the pieces of writers who I’ve grown to respect. I’ll miss finally finding the right way to structure a sentence after hours of agonizing mulling. I’ll miss being able to write about intriguing and provocative topics. Most of all, I’ll miss all the friends I’ve made during my time on this site, who’ve helped prevent me from getting too big of a head.

Speaking of my friends, do I have great advice for current and future staff members of the Shadow? Not really, to be frank. My take on counsel is that it should be as personalized as possible. If I were giving advice to sophomore year me, I’d tell him to be more conservative with the fights he takes, and be more willing to recognize when you’re not going to change people’s minds. But an incoming staff writer may have the opposite problem, too willing to compromise when they’re entirely in the right; too reconciliatory and not stubborn enough.

If I were to offer one universal piece of advice, it’d be to read actual writers in the field that you’re trying to enter. If you’re a food reviewer who can name even one actual newspaper food columnist, you’re already ahead of 99% of your competitors. As a political columnist, some of my favorite writers are Ross Douthat, Osita Nwanevu, Mary Harrington, Michael Lind, Tom McTague, Adam Gurri and Jamelle Bouie. Though I disagree strongly with most of these writers occasionally (some of them most of the time), their writing and argumentative styles still guided my work. Long story short: your English teacher is right. Read more.

That being said, I wish this website, just as I do to its future writers and editors, the best of luck and a solemn farewell. I suppose I’ll end this column — my last article for my first political home — with the epitaph of Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical Republican who was one of the strongest warriors against slavery and in favor of reconstruction. Stevens refused to be buried in a graveyard that denied Black Americans, to which his response oozed a level of principle that I aspire to: “I repose in this quiet and secluded spot not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life:” it began. “EQUALITY OF MAN BEFORE HIS CREATOR.”