(Editors-in-chief Bridget Lynch (’23) and Kasparas Adomaitis (’23) )
The Moon (the student-run monthly newspaper) began its undertakings this year with intrepid ambition and gusto. The editors-in-chief, Kasparas Adomaitis (’23) and Bridget Lynch (’23), commenced the year with the first issue of the paper in November themed “Conversation and Authenticity”. The issue began with a letter, from the editors-in-chief, restating the mission of the newspaper (from its very first issue in 1983) “The most important service must be…to make public (seriously or satirically) the issues which face us here. We are all affected by certain political decisions, and personal decisions: if the newspaper is to be worth anything, it will have to provide both information and thoughtful opinions on these questions”. A powerful reminder that the mission is applicable even now and best describes the spirit of The Moon’s mission.
The invitation extends to the entire St. John’s community, here is a forum where anyone on campus could express their concerns and sentiments in the fullest and most lucid manner. The aim was not only to create a space for honest expression but also to allow the campus community to engage with the writers’ thoughts by reading, a type of engagement (as Johnnies would know) that allows for a distinct kind of conversation between writer and reader. The first issue featured profoundly veracious and entertaining articles including pieces on the condition of Polity (the student-government body) by Javiera Romero (’24), on a distinct kind of loneliness and its overcoming by Sophia Ferree (‘24), on the all-college seminar (seen through a satirical lens) by Elena Hochheiser (‘24), on the unique mission of The Moon by Natasha Potemkin (‘25), on critical changes that St. John’s needs to undertake by Bel Dodd (‘25) and on the precariousness of being back on-campus after the pandemic by Jared Conahan (‘22). And perhaps most importantly the newspaper ended with a series of mirth-inducing and satirical comics. This first issue of the newspaper was truly a striking demonstration of both, the incredible potential of The Moon and the diverseness of student thought.
As the theme of the very first issue suggested, the hope was to foster authentic conversation through the newspaper. This is no small aim: authentic conversation at St. John’s necessitates a dialogical and, perhaps, even dialectical nature. After all, a requisite of conversation is an exchange, not mere monologues. The challenge of creating a dialogical thinking space, as it were, through writing is hardly a piffling matter— and indeed, most propitiously, the editors-in-chief are hardly inclined to regard it as such. In light of such non-piffling matters, after the second issue of the newspaper (themed “Gadfly”) had marinated in its glory and readership, the Editors-in-chief held an Open Forum on 15th December for all readers and writers of The Moon. This was an opportunity for questions, reflections, and deliberations.
This meeting was held on a snowy afternoon, in a warm student-led space: The Cave. Though the descent to this meeting space appeared shadowy and fire-lit, the participants in the conversation that followed spoke in the spirit of having seen the sun. That is to say, there was much striving for the truth: ‘is the purpose of The Moon to entertain or to engage in dialogue?’, ‘can The Moon do both?’, ‘why are students the only contributors when the campus community is much bigger?’, ‘is there anything that prevents Tutor contributions?’, ‘how do we encourage direct responses to articles?’
Such were the questions asked in the darkness of The Cave. Many suggestions followed: Elena Hoccheiser (‘24) pointed out that critical pieces that generate dialogue did not need to be divorced from entertainment, surely articulate satire achieves both those ends: indeed, Aristophanes’ commentaries on Athenian society through absurd and comedic plays are a profound example of exactly that. Further, the entertaining flair of satirical pieces would lure in more readers.
The primary concern of the meeting turned out to be the engagement of the wider community. Strategies were recommended from all participants on how to bring forth the perspectives of more students, the staff on campus, and the tutors. Javiera Romero (24’) suggested student involvement to engage tutors: students needed to invite their tutors both through the writing in their articles and through verbal encouragement. Moreover, more attempts could be made to encourage articles that involved the perspectives of non-teaching staff on-campus as well.
To put it shortly, the conversations in The Cave, facilitated by the editors-in-chief, were a brilliant example of the reflective, thoughtful and self-aware approach of Kasparas Adomaitis (’23) and Bridget Lynch (’23) as leaders of the project of The Moon. The emphasis on reconsidering the mission and aims of the newspaper in light of the real impact it had on its readership goes to show that The Moon exercises prudence in evolving to account for its challenges and to meet the needs of the community. The Moon is an ambitious and much-needed project: given its achievements in so short a period from its revival, one can engage with this thinking space with certainty that it will result in fertile thought.