Editor-in-chief rambles for last time in official capacity

Laura Hallas

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.

As editor-in-chief, I have harassed columnists into meeting word count, cut entire paragraphs of editorials and rewritten headlines minutes before deadline to make content fit. Yet for all of my journalistic insistence succinct phrasing, someone had the bright idea to let me write about the most impactful year of my life, unsupervised. 

What an oversight. 

If you have spoken with me in the past year, you know that I can derail any conversation with a 40 minute part-rant, part-ode to the Texan. There are not enough words nor time in the day to convey all of the intangible moments that make this job great, much less in my 30 column.

I may not be able to describe in words the feeling of leading a pitch meeting or publishing an impactful editorial, but I can point to a list of names. It is the 324 staff and 93 permanent staff on The Daily Texan masthead, past and present, who filled my quote wall and my memories of the Texan.

First, there are Those Who Came Before. Alexander Chase — you instilled a love for writing in your staffers, and installed bad pictures of Jeb(!) Bush on my desktop. I am grateful for both. Claire Smith — you were the first to give me space on the page, and set a precedent for all who came after you. 

Some professionals were also involved. Peter Chen — thank you for your sage advice and for your habit of dramatically entering my office. Gerald Johnson — thank you for always backing our work from upstairs. I’m still scheming to bring back my green couch. 

I learned, too, from my three strong managing editors. Eva Frederick, you are a light. We learned the management ropes together, and I loved every minute of it. Michelle Zhang, I can always count on you for a coffee-fueled analysis of our lives and our jobs — you excel in both. Ellie Breed, I can’t wait to see what you do next, and I will miss working alongside you as you do it. From my office window, I can see the paper the three of you built. It’s a great view.

But my heart lies on page 4. I have seen the opinion staff’s columns find the nuance in even the most complicated issues and pushed this University toward tangible change. To my columnists: You made every day of this job worth it. Never stop writing, and don’t forget to find the time peg. 

A fleet of 25 columnists can’t cover every campus issue — sometimes you just have to cold-call some professors. Vik Shirvaikar and Janhavi Nemawarkar, working with the two of you made even the weekly heart attacks well worth it. Vik — “forum editor” is only one of your titles in my mental Rolodex, but I’m thankful you’ve held it. Janhavi, you inspire me everyday. We have grown together through the Texan, and I know you will continue to make an impact wherever you go. 

And that brings me to the editorial board. Frankly I’m still shocked not only that you all didn’t quit en masse over InDesign or conflicting music opinions. Cuillin — thank you for taking a break from curating your social media presence to spend three semesters in this basement. Josie, you are unfailingly kind and push for the best in people in whatever you do — a powerful combination. Jaree — you took a chance on me and the opinion section, and I am so thankful. You are a rock in this department, and there’s no one I would rather spend Friday nights in the office with. 

There are so many others, on and off staff, who have defined my time here. But my moment in the basement is about to end, and soon my bulletin boards will be emptied for a new year of printed Reddit comments, grainy pictures and design misprints. Liza, you belong in both of my previous paragraphs as an outstanding forum and associate editor, but now it’s your turn to take the lead. Be bold, make waves, and know that I always have your back.

I have no doubt that I will continue to try (and fail) to explain why I love this paper while trapped friends and family patiently listen — this was only the masthead.

For my full column, hand me a coffee and ask me about the Texan.  

Hallas is a Plan II, economics and health and society junior from Allen. Follow her on Twitter @LauraHallas.