The Power of Narrative

“What is the purpose of your paper?”

The four of us on the Executive Board sat in the lounge, meeting the gazes of each other, unsure of how to answer the Yale Daily News (YDN) staff member who asked this question. We had traveled to the YDN High School Journalism Symposium in search of techniques to improve our newspaper, but instead found ourselves struggling with a more fundamental question: what is our purpose?

Before March, we all got too caught up in a non-stopping workflow of producing the paper, propelled by momentum. Rarely did we stop and think about what we were trying to achieve, or the reason why we were doing what we were doing. 

Then March hit. Plane tickets were canceled, textbooks were abandoned in the dorms, and we, along with the rest of the student body, did not know what would happen. When the ever-rolling wheel stopped, we were finally able to start contemplating our purpose.

As we discussed the issue, one word kept coming up: narrative.

What is a narrative? It’s an account of your story that you tell through your own unique lens. It represents you, and solely you. Narratives of painful times can even bring power and a relentless strength of will. More importantly, narratives at tragic times serve as a memory of the faults in history we should not repeat. 

Although The Record is neither a literary magazine nor a blogging platform, it creates its own type of narrative: a narrative of an entire community – one told through its writers, photographers, cartoonists, editors, and the voices of the people in its articles. The emotions that we shed light on – happiness, frustration, anger, or relief – can convey a real sense of empowerment for the community. 

With this understanding, we have begun drafting a mission statement, which we hope to release this spring. This mission statement will outline our values, identify our goals, and assist us in working toward our goals. Our purpose is, then, to piece out the narrative of our community.