30: Science of living in a basement: an editor’s goodbye

Eva Frederick

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.

Cave-dwelling creatures are often pigmentless and eyeless, with translucent skin and a layer of threadlike sensory hairs. Fortunately, although they spend approximately the same amount of time underground, the same cannot be said of Daily Texan editors.

In fact, the life of a Texan editor is often bursting with color and noise, and the many hours spent slaving over articles in the basement of the HSM building do not result in the evolutionary losses experienced by the average cave-dwelling invertebrate.

However, practically living in the Daily Texan basement does have an impact on the physiology of editors. Some adapt to the conditions by developing a strong sense of AP style and an overwhelming affection for their staff, while others gain a heightened awareness of deadlines and a tendency to compulsively correct their friends’ grammar.

In this scientific profile, I will focus on one particular basement dweller: Eva Frederick, the summer andfFall 2016 Science&Tech editor. This species began working at the Texan in fall 2015. She started out writing weekly science stories for the Life&Arts sections, and was there for the rise of the brand new Science&Tech department, started by the unstoppable Ellen Airhart.

Her career as a reporter included articles on overfed turkeys and blood-fearing doctors, and inspired a passion for ball moss unmatched by the greatest love stories of the century. Her Zika article caused a small media flurry, to the dismay of her scientist sources, and she was once granted the honor of speaking to acclaimed neuroscientist David Eagleman about the biological basis of ethics.  

But when she entered the fall 2016 semester, she had a knot in the pit of her stomach. It’s hard to feel worthy of managing a staff of 17 amazing, brilliant writers, and she worried that her feet would not grow to fill the shoes Ellen left behind.

However, throughout a semester of editing, running meetings and generally working her butt off, the knot in her stomach dissolved, and left nothing but love, pride and excitement for the future of the section to which she gave so much. She has gained a huge amount of confidence, both in herself and in her fellow students, and has developed skills that will last her a lifetime.

As she leaves the Texan office for the last time, this basement species would like to give a heartfelt thanks to her staff, and to her two associate editors, Kate and Zia. She will miss them all greatly, and is now faced with the dilemma of finding something to do with her continual surplus of baked goods. She knows she is leaving the Science&Tech section in good hands, and is so excited to watch from afar as the section grows and flourishes!