Former EIC misses newsroom frenzy

Journalist reflects on invaluable time with A-T, moves forward with a mic


Cory Sparks / The Advance-Titan – Cory Sparks worked as a reporter in 2019 before taking the role of Assistant Sports Editor and then Sports Editor in 2020. He became the Managing Editor in 2021 before being elected editor-in-chief in the same year

Cory Sparks, Former Editor-In-Chief

As someone who constantly thinks ahead, I have to admit this: the day of me writing my senior sendoff snuck up on me.

I remember walking down into the basement of Reeve as a freshman who agreed to write an Opinion Editorial on my first week on campus. Leo Costello, the opinion editor at the time, asked me to meet the team. 

I’m a Radio-TV-Film major, so I did not anticipate this encounter materializing into anything.

However, when I walked through the office door, I witnessed a sense of chaoticness that I was immediately in love with. All of the editors were on InDesign, critiquing each other’s work. The copy desk was running edits back and forth.

What most would see as a frenzy, I saw as a lab of ideas, togetherness and tireless work to produce a weekly publication for UW Oshkosh.

I first learned what a senior sendoff was in December of 2019. While I got the jist of the purpose being so each journalist could say goodbye, I didn’t fully grasp the meaning of leaving that place until I became fully invested in it.

From being hired as the sports editor in February of 2020 to finalizing my last issue as the editor-in-chief in 2022, The Advance-Titan was my life. I was in the office multiple days out of the week and in the ballpark of 10-12 hours straight every Tuesday night with the rest of the staff. 

Most of us operated on a reduced amount of brain cells, coffee, orders from Titan Underground and a playlist that had played through four or five times by the time we got out of there.

It sounds crazy, but you know what? I wouldn’t trade my experiences with these wonderful, dedicated individuals for the world.

The Advance-Titan is where I built all of the fundamental skills that have me heading in the direction I am. 

The constant reminder of AP Style infractions as a freshman made me into a writer who obsessively checks over his own work. 

Getting interviews by any means necessary during a global pandemic taught me to be respectively relentless when it comes to getting the most detailed, accurate story by deadline.

Hours and hours of staring at a screen and adjusting minute details to assure a layout is perfect gave me an eye for catching errors.

Late hours spent polishing an 8-12 page paper all built me into a sound and confident journalist. 

All of those attributes were developed when I was given the opportunity to rank up from the paper’s sports editor to the managing editor, and finally, the editor-in-chief.

This job came with battles for the freedom of speech, split-second pivoting on stories to assure we could fill copy space and so many other chaotic scenarios that came with invaluable lessons.

While I wasn’t as involved as I would have liked to have been my senior year as I hecticly juggled responsibilities working in TV, the A-T will always be family to me.

Now for the toughest part: the thank you’s.

Thank you to Leo Costello for introducing me to an on-campus organization that molded me into the journalist and man I am today. 

Thank you Carter Uslabar for handing off the EIC baton to me and pushing confidence into a once timid college junior.

Thank you to Greg Sense for being my partner in crime as a co-sports editor in my first semester as a staff member.

Thank you to Jacob Link and Nolan Swenson for taking over the sports section of the paper and filling it with newly implemented ideas and content. Jacob, I still have no clue how you balance football with school while writing the most in-depth and compelling sports stories I have ever seen.

Thank you to Owen Peterson for taking over the EIC job with conviction. As someone who was heading into his last semester, you took an upscale in responsibilities where many would have preferred to coast.

Thank you to Katie Pulvermacher for being the A-T’s backbone in the last three years. You are a phenomenal current EIC, and your high-motor work ethic that you’ve had since first starting at the A-T will take you wherever you want to go.

Thank you to Vince Filak for becoming a mentor, biggest fan and mentor of mine all in one. Your support through instruction and cut-and-dry style of critiques pushed me to be a critical thinker. The hours of talking Cleveland and Chicago sports were a pleasant bonus, though. 

Finally, thank you to Barb Benish. I don’t know if there is an adviser out there who is willing to do more for her students. When I stumbled upon my first A-T story meeting, I remember you referring to the staff as your kids. Over the last four years, everything you’ve done has embodied that claim.

Whether it’s bringing us food, staying late on production, going to war with us over our access to staff or simply reminding me that you’ll always be here for anything, you mean the world to me. 

To anyone who has ever worked on the staff or is currently working, thank you for binding together and putting your hearts into the stories. 

While telling the stories of our wonderful athletic program through feature stories on teams and athletes, I discovered I can’t stay away from sports. Following graduation, I am taking over as the play-by-play announcer for the Kenosha Kingfish, and I’m 100% sure that doesn’t happen without my experience in this invested campus newspaper.

This place taught me journalism, decency, organization and passion for one’s craft.

For that, I’ll forever be in debt to The Advance-Titan and all of the wonderful people involved in it.