By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
You hold an historic issue in your hands. Yes, the one that you are likely dipping into the ketchup on your plate right now-it is a historic issue of the Optimist.
Ninety years ago this month, Arthur Slater founded Abilene Christian College’s first college newspaper and named it the Optimist. The name hails from a different era of journalism, when it was OK to inject your personal beliefs into a news story, when it was OK for a paper to publish from a prescribed stance.
So while the Optimist has changed quite a bit from a four-page tabloid with nothing but text on all four pages to the 12-page, color photograph, award-winning broadsheet, its name has stayed the same, and so in some ways has its mission.
We are no longer a paper that puts little slogans like “Smile-Enjoy the day!” at the top, and that’s good. But we are still a paper dedicated to serving the student body. And that is better.
Ever since Volume 1, Issue 1 ran off the presses in August 1912, the Optimist has, with varying success, been the source for student-run news coverage. World War I, the Depression, World War II, Korea, Kennedy, Vietnam, Reagan, the Persian Gulf and Sept. 11-all have been covered from an ACU perspective by dozens of Optimist staffs.
Now, in August 2002, you hold Volume 91, Issue 1. The staff that is putting together this version of your paper is probably a little more road-tested than previous staffs have been.
Last year began with Sept. 11 coverage. Four weeks later, the Optimist produced award-winning anthrax scare coverage. That was followed by the fight over the bell, a flood in Gardner, two small explosive devices set off on campus, the cancellation of classes because of snow, the cutting of two departments and Easter Sunday-when five Nigerian students died in an accident on their way back to campus and a pair of fires burned out a room in Nelson and caused disruption at University Church of Christ.
And in between all that, there was Welcome Week, Freshman Follies, Homecoming, Sing Song, Lectureship, SA meetings, social clubs and a host of other events.
And now we’re back. For the 90th year, the Optimist returns to do it all again. Don’t ask why; I’m sure the majority of the staff couldn’t tell you why they abandon so much for the paper, sleeping in the office, staying up till 2 a.m., making the Don H. Morris Center their second (in some cases, their first) home.
But regardless of reason – whether it be love, obsession or some strange combination of both-here we are. Ready to serve you once again, like so many staffs before us have done, covering all the big events like Sing Song (and maybe even reviewing them!) and all the little ones too.
We do have a legacy to uphold-the Associated Collegiate Press has selected the Optimist as an All-American paper the past 26 years. But we also hope to give you the best, most complete, fair and accurate news we can, Faithful Reader, and we want to know when we don’t. Tell us when we’ve messed up; tell us when you don’t like something we do.
I hope it won’t be too often; I’m going to try my best to make sure it won’t, but no one’s perfect. All the same, feel free to write. As soon as you finish wiping the ketchup off the bottom of the front page.