Former Texan staffer: the Texan goes beyond the basement

Christine Ayala

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.

Although I’ve spent five semesters and held six positions at The Daily Texan, I can’t help but have a few regrets. 

As a reporter, I wish I would have appreciated every story a little bit more. As a staffer, I wish I would’ve spent less time complaining and more time cultivating solutions. I wish I would have had the chance to mentor a few kids that have the potential to be really great. I wish I would have replaced the sign to the basement that fell off years ago. But most of all, I wish there were not an “us and them” attitude between the Texan and its audience. Texan readers don’t understand the Texan mechanics, and it can be frustrating for those working late in the basement — but why should they? After all, we only report on things because we expect readers not to know every nook and cranny of campus. Texan articles, and all news, should be less of a debate on story execution, and more of a conversation starter among readers. Not an easy task.

If one person picks up a Texan today, reads something informative and interesting and bothers to mention it to someone else, the Texan has done its job. And it needs to be better about making that connection happen. The Texan spends a lot of time defending itself, and with good reason — online trolls tend to focus on a misspelled word rather than the point of the article. Granted, quality work is absolutely necessary so that a reader’s first response is about the news or the sources and not about the reporter’s failings. The audience shouldn’t be forgiving of the Texan’s mistakes, so the Texan needs to strive to be better tomorrow than it is today. For new reporters, it’s hard to see the big picture perspective of how stories connect and the Texan’s role in telling them. But I’ve come to my perspective too late to put that to practice in the basement.

I leave with a lot of great memories and a few terrible ones. And it’s comforting to know that parts of the Texan have weaved their way into my life outside work. I found and fell for Jacob, my Swedish fish. The Texan, I’m sure, will continue to be the topic of long and nostalgic conversations while we navigate Austin’s creeks. The Texan gave me great friends in Bobby and Alexa, who make me want to be better and more like them. And a set of challenging mentors in Matt, Shabab and Laura. Riley will surely follow in their footsteps as a great leader. Thank you to the cast of TuesTeas. Thank you for the group texts, arguments over the use of queso, fancy  maestro and headsets — looking at you Mustafa. The bonus of having a great time makes working at the Texan unforgettable, but try not to forget the point of that work as a staffer or as a reader.