News desk editor, former senior reporter promises to never call UT at 12 a.m. again

Andrew Zhang

There’s a scene in Pixar’s “Soul” that shows an animated depiction of people in “the zone,” where people following their passions — playing the piano, winning a basketball game, whatever — are stuck in a semisuspended, dreamlike reality bubble. But a second too long in the zone, the bubble pops and that passion drags you into the ground.

When I watched “Soul” earlier this year, I was struck by this image. I joined the Texan last February. I had always obsessively followed the news, so I thought, “Why not write it?” For me, reporting was a fun, idyllic escape from reality — pitch a story on an interesting topic, talk to some nice (or not so nice) people in an awkward interview, write it up and do it again. I used to think I would stay at this paper until I graduated, but this spring, being at the Texan drained me, and I’ve realized that now is the right time to leave.

Still, I’ll remember my time here as some of the most important and formative of my life. I’ve probably spent the least amount of time in the basement out of anyone who has ever written a 30 (thanks to COVID-19), and though I might’ve had communal pitch and editing experiences replaced with Zoom calls and FaceTimes, I’ve had plenty of memorable experiences during my time here: calling UT spokespeople at midnight (thanks for dealing with me, J.B.), interviewing President Hartzell and just getting to do something I’ve always loved — write.

From tweeting about school meetings where it seemed like all of UT was watching to talking with students about their struggles through a hell-ish school year, it was an honor to tell stories for the Austin and UT community.

I have more people to thank than I have room to name, but here are just some:

Fall 2020 news department — we accomplished so much, and pitch (especially that one where we had a special guest) was always a nice interruption to the busy weeks. Amanda — we’ve come a long way from writing about career fairs and Kins Dining. Let’s make Dolce Neve a weekly checkup. Anna — you’re such a talented reporter, and our NDE group chat sustained me through many edits. Megan — thanks for entertaining my 2 a.m. texts about typos in the paper and having in-depth conversations with me about anything. Emily — thanks for spending so much time last summer helping me grow.

And the biggest thank you goes to my sister, Amy — an outstanding managing editor herself in the old days (2016). Without you, I would have never joined the Texan, and legend has it that you brought me into the Texan office and introduced me to Peter years before I ever enrolled at UT. I fondly remember when I made you come to the basement with me for my tryout because I didn’t want to walk in by myself. Thanks for reading all of my first news stories when I was too baby to send them in, your endless support, and every one of the little things you do for me that I always neglect to thank you for. I appreciate it more than I could ever express.