Linkage: 200 and still going strong
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Linkage celebrated its 200th anniversary less than three weeks ago. The University Publications Office threw an open house party and a few dozen old friends and new acquaintances ambled into our office late one Friday afternoon.
We lit up a dozen candles, uncorked a bottle or two of red wine, and savoured the fine food and, according to one guest, the best coffee ever served at a University function. Prizes were drawn and souvenirs given away. Above all, we shared a few hearty jokes; some guests patted our shoulders and offered us a string of praises for a job well done. A couple of old-timers took the opportunity to inspect our past issues (all 199 were on display) and immediately found themselves on a trip down memory lane, oohing and aahing at pictures of their youngish looks and cocky smiles sprinkled over Linkage's early pages. They also admired our colourful new addition, CityU Today, both print and web versions. And almost everyone was amazed that Linkage could, well, have a history dating as far back as 1984. Yes, it surprises us too when we realize that we are probably the longest running staff newsletter on college campuses in Hong Kong. Isn't that some achievement?
We think it is. But this is not the time for any more self-congratulation. Looking back, often with disbelief and trepidation, we've asked ourselves how we arrived at the Linkage of today. If we were given the chance to relive the past 100 or 200 issues, would we do things differently? Would we take a different editorial approach, put in stories or articles that might evoke different responses from our readers? Was there any big story or issue on campus we evaded, any event we missed, any staff profile that should have been written but wasn't? Would we want Linkage to come out more frequently, in a bigger format, with more pages and colours? Separate English and Chinese editions? All these questions have been nagging us for the past decade. We didn't have ready-made answers back then and we still don't, and a few times our course has zigged and zagged. The only certainty to which we have held is: we'll keep searching for the right formula to serve our community. Your comments are our guide through thick and thin.
I am often confronted with these questions: What does Linkage stand for? What does this publication mean to you? In the 100th issue (March 1991), I wrote that Linkage's goals are to inform and to entertain (a third purpose--to act as a watchdog--as mentioned but was immediately discarded as being unrealistic). Throughout the years, we might have made some steady progress in the former count (to inform you about campus happenings, the major policy decisions of the administration, the significant developments and achievements of the University, etc); we still have a very long way to go on the latter, that is to entertain. It's perhaps ten times harder to be interesting than informative in our reporting. I always believe that a staff newsletter like Linkage should be enjoyable to read. We just have to try harder, with your constant prodding.
Here, I would like to say a few words about CityU Today, in relation to Linkage. The new sibling, born in mid-January, is positioned as a corporate newsletter, informing our friends and alumni in the wide community of what's going on at CityU. It's meant to be a concise and yet informative capsule of University news on all fronts: teaching and learning, research and consultancy, student achievements, etc. Linkage, on the other hand, will remain a staff newsletter, focusing on issues and events that arise among us, which relate to our well being as scholars and administrators, but more importantly, as active members of this community. It will be written from a distinct staff perspective, in a unique staff voice and, I hope, be given ample room to grow as an important staff forum.
Finally, my heartfelt thanks to our readers (discreet or vocal in their opinions), my colleagues at PUO (past and present) and my supervisors (immediate and once or twice removed), without whose unwavering support (and sometimes tolerance) nothing would have materialized.
So, until next time (the 300th issue anniversary, perhaps), walk with us on our journey...