30: Copy desk chief finally gets first, last byline

Kasey Salisbury

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

While I’ve never really doubted my choice to study journalism in college, when it came right down to it, I was a little terrified of working for a newspaper, albeit a student one.

So when I applied for the Daily Texan, I was drawn to the copy department because I thought I could do my work behind the scenes and avoid public scrutiny while still getting some experience. In reality, my five semesters here challenged me to be a better writer and reporter while helping to push the Texan toward its full potential. 

In the (probably) over 1,000 hours I’ve spent holed up in the basement, eating way too much pizza and arguing about em dashes, commas, word choice, hyphens, titles and headlines, you would think things would begin to feel a little trivial. But in a time when journalism as an institution has become constantly under scrutiny, and even The New York Times is cutting back its copy department, publications have to fight to be taken seriously, and each little mistake or misstep degrades that reputation we’ve worked so hard to achieve. 

It was difficult to admit that I was scared of having others read my work, but I’ve also come to realize the copy department was still a perfect fit for my passions for thorough, informative writing and generally being nitpicky about things. I’ve learned to have difficult conversations when our work just hasn’t been good enough or we have things to reevaluate. And, best of all, I’ve found a community on campus.

Last semester, I finally got the courage to (gasp) go to my college’s internship fair and apply for editorial internships. When I landed interviews, I found my formative experience with the Texan was a huge talking point because I had so much to say about it. And in the end, I got not one, but two internships for the summer and fall, fact-checking and editing while actually doing some of my own writing that people would actually read and enjoy.

 I used to hate the idea of having something with my name attached to it if it could never be perfect, but now I’m not feeling that much anxiety about it. I couldn’t thank everyone at the Texan enough for that.

I strongly advise anyone looking to get more involved on campus to consider the Texan, even if journalism isn’t your passion. You might just find another one.

To all my copy editors, and the future ones: Never doubt the importance of the work you’re doing. Keep fighting the good fight for, you know, the truth – and Oxford commas.