Editorial

Charley in front of the building he's called a second home for years. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

On the afternoon of April 7, I was driving back from Montreal to Ottawa. As I made my way through the small Eastern Ontario towns that border the 417, “Closing Time” by Semisonic came on the radio — yes, I still listen to the radio. 

For months, see, maybe a year now, I have been thinking about my last editorial, and one of the things I was certain about was that it would be titled “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” But, suddenly, that didn’t feel right. “Closing Time” just seemed more fitting — “Closing time, every new beginning, comes from some other beginning’s end” — those lyrics, I feel, really reflect this stage of my life. 

I’ve been at the Fulcrum for four years now, half of those as its editor-in-chief (EIC) — it’s time for me to move on. However, before I do, I think it is worth reflecting on my five long years in student journalism. Apologies in advance, as this may get a little sappy.

For those who don’t know, I first started in student journalism at La Rotonde. An experience, that, for a lack of better words, left a bitter taste in my mouth. But, as mentioned early, the motto is not to look back in anger, and I don’t. I try to look at the positives. 

I believe I learned a lot at the Francophone outlet. 

There was a certain drive to be the best, a drive to get the story out at all costs — a need for a killer instinct or a chip on our shoulders — this was especially the case when it came to news. This is something that I’m grateful I learned, and it’s something I’ve tried to teach others at the Fulcrum.

As EIC, however, I realized it’s something you either have or you don’t. Forcing that drive onto people who simply don’t have it can easily lead to burnout, and can also create a toxic environment. This is something that, frankly, I have struggled to hone. It’s important to pick your battles — not everything is black and white, there isn’t always a good and bad guy — nuance is important. 

Coming to the Fulcrum after my year at La Rotonde, I was welcomed with open arms. The team dynamic was incredible. Everyone was welcoming and nice to each other. There seemed to be no egos, everyone had their flaws and strengths, but they were humble despite that. And if you struggled, people were willing to help you.

Editorial board meetings were fun — all ideas mattered when discussing stories or issues. You felt like you mattered. That’s something that really can’t be undervalued. In my first year, I was the associate sports editor, the bottom of the copy chain, but everyone listened when I spoke, and my ideas were always considered — this was the case for everyone on the team. 

I can’t express how thankful I am to then-EIC Anchal Sharma and then-managing editor Savannah Awde for the environment they created — and I can only hope that I was able to replicate this environment. I also want to thank then-sports editor Andrew Price, for putting up with all my wacky ideas for stories and columns, and for chatting about Game of Thrones with me for hours. 

My second year at the Fulcrum was a little harder on a personal level, but I’m happy with the work I accomplished as sports editor. Along with future Fulcrum EIC Jasmine McKnight, we were able to revamp the section creatively and with a certain freedom do what we wanted with sports. 

I have to thank Matt Gergyek for that freedom. Matt really didn’t have it easy as EIC. Due to the Student Choice Initiative, he had one of the smallest Fulcrum teams in recent years, and as such had to take on increased duties as editor-in-chief while fighting for the paper’s very existence. But Matt always put the well-being of his staff before his: mental health was a priority on his editorial board and that’s something I think should be celebrated. 

It was during that second year that I started to believe I had the skills it took to be EIC. And so I drafted a twenty-page platform outlining all the crazy ideas I had had in the shower over my first two years at the Fulcrum. And for the first time in my life, I participated in a debate I won, thanks in large part to my immense charisma (that’s sarcasm, folks). 

And, that’s the end of the story. 

Well, not really, the last two years have been a wild ride, to say the least. Looking at a picture of myself from March 2022, my face has taken the brunt of that wild ride. Two years of stress have seemingly aged me ten years — I am riddled with wrinkles. 

But was it worth it? Yes, absolutely. 

I have learned so much in the last two years, about journalism, managing a team, other people, and myself. Nothing truly prepares you for this job: your contract says you’re supposed to work 40 hours a week, but it’s a full-time job. By that I mean: when you’re not sleeping, you’re almost certainly working or thinking about the Fulcrum. It takes over your life — for better or for worse.

The first thing you need to know is you are prone to burnout — I mean I’ve been burnt out for a while now, and have had to take a massive step back, especially when it comes to writing. This can also lead to frustration when you see others not putting in their best work or not dedicating what you feel is enough effort to the publication — which is unfair to them. 

On the bright side, in my time as EIC, I have met some of the most incredible people I have ever worked with. As much as I was in charge of the paper, I have learned so much from these people.

First, Aly Murphy. Aly wrote some incredible pieces as the Fulcrum’s arts editor last year, and although she worked a little bit more in the shadows this year, she was the anchor that kept the ship from drifting off to sea. But what I learned from Aly is how to creatively inject my personality into pieces. Before reading and editing her work, I had no idea how to do that — this is a skill that I think will help me tremendously in my career — and I can’t thank her enough. 

Charley and Aly in September 2021. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum

The next person I need to highlight is Emily Wilson, our managing editor last year. As much as we have incoming co-EICs, I think we were close to being the OG co-EICs. Together, we learned how to manage a staff of thirteen people during a global pandemic, managed to put out some very strong content that made national headlines, were always on top of everything, and did it all while ranting about everything. 

To both of you, I think you’re the hardest working people I have ever worked with, and I think the success you both are having at the moment, Emily in Germany, and Aly in the theatre world in Toronto, speaks volumes to that. 

Now, Emily and Aly aren’t the only ones that deserved to be highlighted. 

Starting with Jasmine: you’ve been here as long as I have. You’re a great person, and I can’t wait to see what you do as EIC. 

To Hailey, your covers were amazing this year, and your one editorial was better than any I ever wrote. 

Jelena and Bridget, keep believing in yourselves. You two are amazing journalists and when I talk about that “killer instinct” drive, both of you have it. 

Sanjida, you’ve got all the tools to be whatever you want to be. Don’t forget it. 

To Amira, Desiree, Gabrielle, Shailee: you have all shown flashes of brilliance in your time at the Fulcrum. Keep it up. The paper is in good hands with you for years to come. 

Damian, you started a podcast from basically scratch — that’s amazing. You also were able to build an audience through environmental journalism and exploring local stories that don’t get the attention they deserve from anyone else — keep it up, my guy. 

Zoë, thanks for coming back. I know this year was probably not the easiest for you, but I truly enjoyed working on stories with you — thanks to your incredible writing and interview skills, we were able to publish some very important stories.

Emma, your work in science was incredible. I have learned so much from your stories. I wish you all the best, and I hope you give me discounts when you’re a vet.

A couple more thank yous: Christopher, thanks for all the hard work and the poutine reviews — those were really fun. And finally, Ludvica, thanks for helping with my sanity at times this year! 

I hope all of you have enjoyed working with me, and I hope I wasn’t too much of a pain.

Anyways, if you’ve read all of this editorial, I salute you. As for myself, the Fulcrum is a place I’m from, but it’s time for me to gather up my jacket and move towards the exit. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end, and for me, it’s time for a new beginning. 

It’s closing time at the Fulcrum. 

Editorials are usually written by the Fulcrum’s 14 person editorial board and express the shared views and opinions of the Fulcrum’s editorial staff. This editorial was written exclusively by volumes 81 and 82 editor-in-chief Charley Dutil, as it is a reflection on his time in student journalism. To share your own views, email editor@thefulcrum.ca.