Editor-in-chief self-indulges one last time

Liza Anderson

I threw myself into this paper. For three years, I lived and breathed The Daily Texan. 

I walked into this basement as a designer. For five hours once a week, I would design the sports or life&arts page, and then I would go home. 

The next semester, I dove in. Once a week I designed the front page and news section, and I wrote columns for opinion on the side. 

That first year was exhilarating. I only remember flashes now — a possum sticking its head through the ceiling above my desk, Akshay forcing us to watch every The Fast and the Furious movies while we were held captive by our unfinished jobs, small crowds forming around my desk as deadline neared, waiting to see if I could pull it off. 

I was hooked. I was a part of something that mattered, and I was surrounded by people I admired. We were making something, every single day. 

My second year, I quit design to join opinion, for some reason. Laura hired me as an associate editor, and I got paid (very meagerly) to do the most fun job I’ve ever had — designing the opinion page, editing columns, writing editorials and spending time with the weirdest crew you can imagine. 

I couldn’t get enough, so I added forum editor as a side job the next semester. That wasn’t quite enough either. I ran for editor-in-chief. 

I was used to the basement by then, but walking into it for the first time as editor-in-chief, I was completely overwhelmed. No way I was qualified for this. Still, I wanted to make something. 

First, I made a lot of mistakes. I missed errors I should have caught. I let emails go unanswered. I was too harsh sometimes, not harsh enough others. I didn’t stand up for myself when I should have. 

But I learned, and I got better. I learned how to fight for myself and how to step down when I was wrong. I learned how to fail and how to try really hard at something that matters. 

I threw myself into this job. I spent as much time as I could in this basement, and there was nothing I enjoyed more than watching the paper unfold from the vantage point of my desk. 

I had a year, and I gave it to the Texan. I will look back on my time at this fantastic paper and know that I left this paper better than I found it. 

I worked with the best team of editors, writers and artists. The three editorial boards I had the honor of leading pushed the envelope of what an editorial can accomplish. We wrote about consent, sexual harassment, student journalism — and people listened. I wrote pieces under my byline I will always be proud of. We made a fuss, and we made the University angry. 

This year’s associates have pushed the columnists for better and better work, even when it meant editing for three hours straight or sacrificing their personal sanity (looking at you, Tinu). 

My columnists — all 60 or so of you, over the year — made this page happen. They wrote brilliant columns about topics that matter to students — representation, accessibility, menstruation. The illustrators breathed life into this page. Our designers fought bravely against InDesign’s maleficence. 

I’m proud of what we made this year, but I’m not surprised. There’s something about this basement. 

There are challenges ahead. We need to figure out how to pay our staff more. We need to figure out how to better represent the UT community. We need to be more open. But I’m not worried because I trust the people in this basement. The Texan staff — all 300 or so of them — are some of the most capable people on this campus, and I have no doubt the next generation will figure out how to solve the problems we couldn’t. 

Department heads and management — thank you for listening to me talk about my plants every week at Maestro. Jaree, Sarah, Katie, Andrea, Catherine, Cameron, Michelle, Ross, Alex, Lisa — thank you for everything you did to make this experience special. 

A team of talented people paved the path I walked this year. Alexander — thank you for hiring me and for letting me write that frat column. Claire — I never worked for you, but I know you were incredible. Thank you for your guidance and for always telling me to believe in myself. 

I made some pretty good friends along the way too. Emily — you are the best, simply the best. Akshay — you made me realize I could find a home here. Thank you for always picking up the phone. Bella —  thank you for having enough faith to follow me to the other side of the glass. Your friendship and trust mean the world to me. Rena — your ability to actively listen should be taught in self-help books. Thank you for taking me to buy my first plant. Tinu — I miss you so much, please come back. Kirsten — thank you for bearing with me all this time. Ellie — thank you for always having my back. 

Laura, you belong in both of these categories. Thank you for trusting me with everything you built and for handing me my first glass of malbec. You taught me how to do this job, and your support means everything. But above all, the thing I’m most grateful for is 

To the best person I met in this goddamn basement, JT — I won’t ever be able to reciprocate everything you’ve given me this year, but I’m sure going to try. I couldn’t have done half of this without your support. Like, I can’t imagine what would I do without the audio from TribFest. Can I tell Peter we’re dating now? 

Some of the people we work with actually know what they’re doing. Peter — thank you for helping me. I value your advice above anything. Sorry I yelled at you that one time (and yes I recognize I yelled at you more than once, but I’m really only sorry about that one time). Gerald — thank you for listening. Frank, Janie, Emily, Michael, Stephen — thank you for everything you do to support us down here. 

I’ve had the opportunity here to watch people grow, and I’m so excited to see where those who follow me will go. Emily Caldwell and Angelica — you are amazing editors and incredibly strong women. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Raise some hell next year. 

Spencer —  you’ll be in charge in a few days. Enjoy it. Do your best, trust your gut and know that there are so many people rooting for you. I’ve wanted this for you for a long time, and I have no doubt you’ll kill it. Call me anytime. 

It’s someone else’s turn now. I’m going to miss this. 

Anderson is a Plan II and history junior from Houston. She was the editor-in-chief.