J.J. Jenkins is a business administration senior and the Mustang News Editor-in-Chief. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

J.J. Jenkins
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J.J. Jenkins is a business administration senior and Mustang News Editor-in-Chief.

I’m proud of Mustang News because we failed.

This year, we failed more than any college media organization in the country.

As we created this news operation, featuring more interactivity and video content than ever before, we failed essentially every day.

But that’s why I loved working at Mustang News this year. The team of reporters and editors were never afraid to put out a product they thought might fail in front of the hungry pack of news carnivores we call readers.

All that failing and flailing is why Mustang News succeeded.

I’ve never seen a group of talented individuals so willing to experiment — as the school watched each day — to get knocked down and pop right back up and produce engaging and informative journalism. They deserve all the credit in the world for failing quickly and ultimately delivering a consistently high-quality product.

Sometimes we failed subtlely. Our first ventures into interactive feature stories were lauded, but the team wanted them to do more than just whirl and move as you scrolled down the screen. They wanted to enhance the experience of reading online. So we did. Feature stories on Nick Torres and ROTC cadets used visuals to enhance the information conveyed through superb writing.

Sometimes we failed spectacularly. When news first broke that Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) had fined student body presidential candidates for having their names appear in Mustang News before the active campaigning window, we reported on the fines as we usually would. The cycle of stories and fines was patently ridiculous to us and we believed it illustrated the absurdity of the rule. But our readers saw differently, blaming the fines on the newspaper, because we failed to provide proper context. Eventually, national media picked up the story and ASI caved, undoing the fines and rewriting the rule (which a representative had told me was undoable before the national coverage).

It helped illustrate how failure can result in progress.

Still, no matter how we failed, the team at Mustang News would sit back down at the next meeting and figure out how to tell better stories and fulfill our role as servants of democracy.

As that failure bred success, our readers — the people who make our jobs fun — came along for the ride. If traffic is any indicator, we are twice as relevant as last year. There were more than 1 million unique visits to the site, and as news broke and stories developed, many of you came to us first for timely and accurate information. That is the biggest praise we can receive.

But none of that would have happened without an incredible group of people who let me call them my friends. They made me a better editor every single day.

To next year’s leaders, never forget to fail. Just fail fast and fail forward.

I wouldn’t have been able to experience the success of the organization without the intrepid editors who, nearly four years ago, gave me — an awkward freshman who agreed to stuff himself in a trash can to work for the newspaper — a chance. You allowed me to fall head over heels for the paper the moment I stepped on campus. I can’t explain how profoundly my college experience and my life was changed by that decision.

Though my time is coming to a close, I’ll be forever grateful for the days I could say, with pride, that I worked for Mustang News.

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