I need your help. I’m new here, taking over from Marilyn Marks *86 as editor of PAW, and learning my way around.
While still trying to figure out parking, whether I should dare try Hoagie Haven’s Phat Lady, and why a building that opened 57 years ago is called “New” South, I have a more important question.
Where does PAW fit into your life?
Not to get too personal four paragraphs into our relationship, but now is a good time to ponder this.
I am not the only newcomer here; seven of the 10 people on staff have been hired in the past three years. Plus, it’s not exactly news that media consumption is fragmented, across platforms, politics, and ages.
As a result, PAW is undergoing some introspection. And before you think we are the first group to do this, I recently ran across a “manuscript” published in this magazine in 1958 under the headline, “Alumni Magazines: What Purposes Should They Serve?”
I am not a Princetonian, but I have been reading PAW for years, compliments of my wife, Malena (Salberg) Barzilai ’97. This may come off as a bit biased, but I have known PAW to be unlike any other alumni publication. There’s the frequency of publication (11 issues a year), but more important is the rigorous coverage of the University and alumni, the thoughtful reporting and writing, and the frank letters from readers.
Now this is probably a good time to remind — or inform — all of you that PAW is editorially independent, meaning the University does not approve or see any of the content before publication in the magazine, on our website, or on social media channels. This is another unusual feature, and I don’t need to explain why it is important, but I have been told by many people that I need to explain that it exists.
All of this is to say that though we are a relatively new staff, we recognize there are elements of PAW that have been its foundation since the first issue was published in 1900, and we intend to stay true to them.
But the reality is PAW must continue to evolve and find new storytelling techniques and new methods that will strengthen our bond with alumni and keep this community connected.
For example, in nearly every edition in recent years, you’ll notice that there aren’t many letters in the Inbox section from younger alumni, and that Class Notes tend to lose steam entering the 2000s. At the same time, we are pretty sure you have opinions about Princeton and are in touch with each other. (Thanks, Facebook.)
It’s probably not realistic to expect younger Princetonians to change their habits in this regard, but that doesn’t mean PAW can’t help bring together the views of alumni of all ages. Making this happen while building on a tradition of exceptional journalism is PAW’s mission. How to execute aspects of it is where you can come in.
Princetonians are passionate about their alma mater, or as one alumnus recently said, “It’s a cult, but a good cult.” Now you have an open invitation to share that passion, with PAW or through my inbox (email@example.com), voicemail (609-258-4931), or social media (@ByPeterBarzilai). Don’t be a stranger.