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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: A graduation tribute to you

By Harry Plumer
May 11, 2012 | 2:36 p.m. CDT

Dear Reader,

Students graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism have a multitude of people to thank.

Family — for their unconditional love and unending belief in our potential to succeed. Teachers and editors — for their infinite patience and faith that if they try hard enough to get through to us, perhaps we might actually learn something over our four (or in my case — five) years here. Friends and colleagues — for the powerful relationships that we'll treasure forever.

But there's someone else I want to thank before I walk across the stage.

You.

We all write to be read. Without you, our operation at the Missourian has no impact and no legitimacy.

When you pick up a newspaper or log on to our website, you provide us with the motivation to do the best job we possibly can — to do better each and every time we hit the publish button.

Thank you for forgiving our mistakes. No newspaper is perfect, but with a new crop of incoming reporters each and every semester, I'd be hard-pressed to blame you for giving up on us.

But you never do. You keep coming back because you have faith that we can do good work.

Because of you, we do that good work. I and countless numbers of my fellow students have won individual honors while working here.

Without knowing you're there to read it, none of it happens.

Because of you, we, as a team, are a Gold Medal Newspaper.

Sure, we get graded. But I'd trade every 'A' I’ve earned at this university (admittedly not that many) to know that something I wrote informed and entertained you.

Because of you, what we do actually matters.

You help provide us with financial support. We are not paid, but the money you spend to subscribe goes toward keeping this operation going.

Because of you, I've had the opportunity to have datelines in 10 states and three time zones since August.

Thank you for taking the time to comment on our stories. Whether it's to point out our errors (I'm looking at you, Jim Terry, and I'm absolutely terrified of you), compliment our work, or tell us we're flat-out wrong and terrible, the fact that you care enough to do it makes us work harder.

Because of you, we become better journalists every single day.

Those of you who pay close attention to our operation know that we truly do listen to what you have to say. Not only do we listen, but we implement what you say into what we do.

Because of you, we have become innovators.

The Missourian is a teaching tool, but because of you, it's also a legitimate news organization. I am a firm believer that journalism cannot be learned in the classroom. Because of you, the Missourian doesn't feel like a classroom at all.

Because of you, when I leave Columbia, I won't feel like a fresh-faced, intimidated 23-year-old.

I will feel like a journalist.

So thank you for reading, and please, whatever you do, don't stop. There's another class right behind mine that needs you.

Harry

Harry Plumer, who graduates Saturday, covered Missouri football and conference realignment for the Missourian in the fall and was a special projects reporter this spring.