We Are the Quest

When I first walked into Reed’s student publications office last fall, I was struck by the sheer number of words in the space. Teetering stacks of newsprint vied for dominance with worn notebooks and overfull cups of coffee. Bookshelves, stuffed with style manuals and volumes of press law, seemed perpetually on the edge of collapse. Signatures, doodles, and words of advice to future editors covered the walls — weaving their way around posters and framed awards from the Associated Collegiate Press. Even the ceiling (and one particularly unlucky ventilation duct) had been annotated — in some places in many inks, as new generations of writers made their own reply to the words of their predecessors. 

It was, in a word, overwhelming. And it still is, even as I enter my second year as a Reed student and as an editor of this illustrious paper. It has often been said that journalism is “the first rough draft of history,” and it is. But at Reed, the Quest is also the final draft of history. As the college’s alumni magazine said of the paper several years ago, “the Quest is the sole source for many episodes in the college’s history, since no other record remains.” 

That responsibility — to contribute to a paper that has been, for better or worse, the voice of Reed since 1913 — is a heavy one to bear. But it is also a great privilege to be trusted with the history of this place, and the stories of the students, faculty, and staff who walk its halls. To write for the Quest is not simply to join a club, but to add your pen to a story that’s been a hundred years in the telling, and may be a hundred more.

Nevertheless, times are changing, and we can, and must, change with them. Traditional newspaper printing gets more expensive every year, while the campus paper — once an institution of undergraduate communities across America — has become less and less important as a foundation of the public square. The odds of the Quest actually breaking a story — one that you haven’t already heard on Instagram or through the college grapevine — are lower than they’ve ever been. 

As a result, this is a time of change at the Quest, one which has already begun and will likely last for years. We’re investing in innovation in ways we never have before: completely overhauling our website twice in the last year and launching a native mobile app to put the paper in your back pocket (one you can download at reedquest.org/app). We’re changing the style of our reporting, and expanding our coverage to include the stories that affect our world, and not just ourselves. And we’re opening ourselves up to new approaches to storytelling, and welcoming programmers, photographers, scientists, and artists to tell stories driven by data, interactivity, and non-traditional approaches to reporting. 

Now more than ever, the Quest is a paper that welcomes all students, regardless of their academic disciplines, interests, or previous journalistic experience. Many of our contributors had never written for a paper before joining the Quest. And many of them fulfill roles that might not be recognizable as traditional journalism. All are welcome, and all are free to pursue the stories they’re passionate about, wherever they lead.

Wherever those stories take us, we see ourselves on the cusp of a new year, and of a unique opportunity to serve this community in new and exciting ways. Our story, after all, has only just begun. 

Quest contributors’ meetings are every Monday night during the academic year. Join us at 7:00 PM in the student publications office (GCC 047) to learn more about what we do.

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