Position(s): 2021 Culture, Training & Inclusion Chair, 2020 Senior News Editor
Section(s): News, CTI
Semesters at The Daily: 6
First and foremost, I should thank you for clicking on my Senior Goodbye — especially considering I don’t have a photo. What can I say, I like to be mysterious.
I write to you at the tail-end of a long and interesting Thanksgiving week. The night before the holiday, I did what all freshly legal college seniors do and went to the local bar. It was like the MET Gala of my Detroit suburb, and the theme was flannel and leather. The dinner itself was a small gathering of only my immediate family and my mom’s friend from the dog park. I finished the holiday night by seeing “House of Gucci.” I will spare you the review as I am not an Arts writer. (One time I asked the Arts editors if I could do a series reviewing all the fast-food chicken sandwiches within Washtenaw County and was told I could not as I was not hired to Arts. I’m sure the same rule applies to the movie, so I will use my word count elsewhere.)
Then, this past weekend. The Michigan-Ohio State game. I did not watch (I always sell my tickets), but apparently we slayed. What did that mean for me? A longer line to get into Skeeps.
You may be wondering why this week was important. It’s because as I sit here on Sunday, sprawled out on my couch with my bags yet to be unpacked and assignments even further procrastinated, I am wondering what to do with this goodbye and the midnight deadline looms large. What should the tone of this column be? Should I keep it serious? I helped write the article removal policy, so I know this is staying online forever. It’s infamy, but at what cost?
The truth is that I’ve learned and grown so much here that it feels like an impossible task to now boil it down to ≈1,000 words. I will start simple and tell you how I got here. I beelined to the newsroom when I came to campus in Fall 2018. I didn’t join on any whim or stroke of luck; I kind of killed it in high school journalism and I needed some friends because my hall was not social, so I figured I’d try News.
Four years later, I’m leaving with so much more than I ever bargained for. I dropped out of the School of Education (sorry!) to free up my schedule so I could devote more time here. (I’m graduating with an English degree if you’re hiring.) I wholeheartedly believed in our mission and dove in headfirst, giving more time to The Daily than I did to my classes. I felt genuinely inspired by the tradition and legacy of The Daily and what it meant to be one small part of it. I also loved getting to sit with Carly and Kaela at the 2018 News meetings, even if it was at the expense of the meetings’ sanctity.
All of that — especially the part about my classes — remains true today. It has been an incredible four years and I covered unbelievable stories as a news reporter and, later, as an editor. A climate strike resulting in a sit-in and 10 arrests. A matchmaking algorithm that never found me a match (I’m 6’2” if that’s of use to anyone). A graduate student strike that put the majority of classes on pause for two weeks. Lots of student government drama.
This year, I moved to a new role, building a section focused on organization development, human resources and diversity, equity and inclusion. What a ride it’s been. We implemented audits, created the first Daily-wide onboarding program for new staffers, ran elections. And we have become entrenched in the problems facing our organization in order to come up with solutions. One of the most rewarding parts has been working across sections and meeting so many people making magic in different corners of our newsroom.
It’s hard to overstate how meaningful The Daily has been to me. And I know I am just one little speck of such an incredible legacy. If I can impart one piece of wisdom in this message to any current Daily staffers reading, I would like it to be that it is good, too, when things change.
For so long, we did things that didn’t really work for us because we were told that that was how it always has been done. In some instances, this feeling of duty to previous staffers can be motivating. While a 130-year-old legacy is tough to hold on your shoulders, it can be empowering in its best moments. But it can be crushing at its worst.
Journalism and the world are changing, and The Daily has changed with it. When I started, there were no newsletters; now there are multiple coming out on a daily and weekly basis. We were not moving as fast on breaking news as we are now, knowing health and safety depend on being informed on COVID-19 spread. We have been a source of information at a time when it was needed more than ever. It’s heartening to see an internal look at if the structures we used back when we were solely a print paper still serve us as a digital-first organization. And I hope everyone knows that it is good to recognize when they do not.
We stand on the shoulders of the giants who worked in this newsroom before us, but I feel strongly that we are uniquely situated to know when to change course or to discontinue the traditions that no longer serve us, our audience or our product. Loving this place so much, as I do, means wanting to make it the best it can be.
With my final few hundred words, I am going to give some thank-yous. To my parents, I know you will read this, so thanks for ensuring I’ll get some clicks and for all the support. A special thank you needs to be given to my dad, who always presses the refresh button at least 200 times on any story I write to increase the number of clicks. I know it’s a tiring job, but I and the digital editors appreciate you for it.
Thank you to my 2020 News editor class. It was chaos from start to finish, but you all made it so rewarding. We did such important work at a pivotal time and you all were a constant during a time of uncertainty. It was worth every crazy dayside, lost hour of sleep and moment of stress while looking at the story doc. And there was never a dull moment in that group chat. I could double the word limit talking about how great each of you are, but I’m already over. I know you all will understand.
Thank you to the 2021 Managing Editor class. We did it, Joe. You all made me and Sarah feel so welcomed and rolled with all of our punches. Special shoutout to Claire, Liv and Madison who will have to edit this absurdly long goodbye. And thank you to Arts for always playing Taylor Swift at the highest volume the barely functioning computer would allow.
Thank you, also, to my CTI staff. There’s nothing like our Monday meetings. I must also tell Sarah how much I appreciate her for doing this with me. My heart grows three sizes every time you use an Organizational Studies term.
Thank you to my friends — some from The Daily, some whom I converted to Daily staffers and those who reminded me there’s a dull world outside of the colorful Student Publications building. Parnia and Barbara, it’s hard to describe how much you mean to me. Then there’s Allison, Jack, Danielle, Remy, Julia, Tara, Asha, Callie, Alec and Jojo — to name a few of the wonderful people I found here. All the late nights in the newsroom, ringing in The Daily’s birthdays (but not that birthday) and InDesign headaches made this campus feel smaller. There were some truly heart-stopping moments, but even in the craziest times chasing sources inside a technically closed building or trying to make the print deadline, I wouldn’t change it for the world. To quote a certain sorority’s 2020 bid day merch, I have in fact met strangers who changed my life.
Finally, to the people who bought my football tickets for far more than face value, thank you. Among other things, that money went towards Piada wraps (RIP), Espresso Royale (also RIP), Amer’s, Charley’s, Rick’s and Skeeps. So, as I enter a career in business journalism, I want you to know that I support local businesses.