It’s strange, but after a year working in the basement of The Daily Texan — cranking out stories on budget cuts, staff layoffs and technology commercialization — I don’t really have anything profound to say.
When I wake up Wednesday morning, it may seem like The Daily Texan was one long, irrepressible dream. But I’ll push myself out of bed, snap on my glasses and realize I won’t ever be a Daily Texan reporter again. What the hell just happened? Doesn’t matter, I guess. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
I met and spoke to some unforgettable people, such as Harriet Murphy, the first African-American woman to be appointed to any judgeship in Texas and a high school friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. I spoke with Red McCombs about leadership. I spoke with Colton Tooley’s high school friends on Sept. 28. I spoke with Mental Health NCO Aaron Puckett, who burst through a pair of doors during the Fort Hood shooting to pull his fellow soldier to safety. I spoke with William Behrens, a retired UT researcher who was the first to discover oil in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the 1980s.
It’s hazy now, but I remember Nolan Hicks, Tamir Kalifa and I rushing out of the news office to chase down a story about staff layoffs on campus. I spent two days in New Orleans chasing down a court story with Erika Rich, who snapped a memorable shot of UT President William Powers Jr. and his vice presidents. I switched roles with Audrey White and watched UT students protest across campus with drums and bullhorns as she held down the fort. But most importantly, I spent seven hours watching a UT student jam his way past a “Rock Band 2” world record.
After it’s all over, it’ll be the daily grind of putting out a newspaper that will really stick with me. Toiling away with dedicated journalists, like the ones we have locked away in the basement, was the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had.
I can barely remember how I got here, or why I came at all. But a year later, I’m convinced that if it weren’t for the staff, I wouldn’t have made it through the long days, the long nights, the long weeks. These reporters, editors and photographers all bleed talent and they’re a dream to work with.
But all dreams have to end.
Nolan, thanks for the good times at Arab Cowboy, the bad Walter Cronkite impressions, the whip cream joke, the drive to San Antonio to get a word with Bill White, running toward danger and for always being there. And God damn, you know a lot about politics and news. I always kept our debates to a minimum to avoid looking stupid. You also owe me money.
Audrey, your drive and go-get-‘em attitude inspire me daily. Thanks for Freaky Friday, for understanding people the way you do, for adding real depth to the stories we worked on, and for changing the world. You're right, I'll miss the job a lot. I already do. I'll come back and visit once I've perfected my Audrey impression.
Claire, I can’t wait to work for you at some national paper. You edited my very first story, which, I’m sorry about that. It sucked, and so did a lot of them after that. But you were always ready to listen, ready to work with me on something and you put an amazing amount of time and energy into it. Thanks for the "Rock Band" story and have fun managing the paper next semester, it'll be epic.
Aziza, you're one bad ass cops reporter, an extremely hard worker and fun to collaborate with. Thanks for all the tips on calling cops, man that must have been a tough beat, but you owned it and came out smiling every day.
Lena, thanks for taking me under your wing when I was a GR, your guidance through this semester and always being the voice of reason. Thanks for sharing epic UT System/Admin wisdom and nerd-out moments, we will always be slaves to that beat and you will always be my first boss in a newsroom.
Pierre, thanks for giving me damn good assignments when I was a GR and direction over the summer. Thanks also for scaring the ever loving out of Kalli and I that night you were driving us all around. It made me think about my life and how short it could be if I ever get in the car with you again. Next semester will be good times.
Andrew, thanks for the direction over long term stories and all the edits that made my clips better. I learned a lot working for you, like clarity and effective writing, issue-driven story-telling and getting hard-to-reach sources. You often pushed me to the limits of my reporting abilities, and I think I'm better for it. I'll take those lessons with me. Thank you.
Hudson, thanks for all the advice and taking the time to walk me through story ideas. That's a rare generosity. Your stories in the archives gave me inspiration, not to mention sources and more story ideas.
Erika, thanks for sharing the Johnny Cash filled New Orleans trip, all of the entertaining conversations and your professional, selfless work on the stories we put together. Thanks for trying to teach me photography, I failed, but I still had fun.
Bobby, Michelle, Cristina and Kelsey, you’re all very awesome people. Thanks for the good times in the office and understanding when I couldn’t pull a story together. You always caught my mistakes, never showed impatience and were a pleasure to work with.
Doug, I couldn't have made it without your guidance. You kept it fun and real, and I'm not quite sure I could ever thank you enough.
Thanks also to the advisors, lecturers and professors who helped me to grow as a reporter: Diana Dawson, Wanda Cash, Bill Minutaglio and Brian Brah, thank you all. Special thanks to Michael R. Whitney, you provided me great encouragement throughout these past semesters, I'll always remember that.
I’d also like to thank the many sources who gave me off-record advice and story ideas. You know who you are. Your contributions to my pieces were highly significant, and no reporter would get anywhere without the people who are willing to show them the way. Thanks.