The Advance-Titan

The end of an era: News boys move on

If there’s one thing I’ve never been great at it’s taking the first step to do something new. Whether it’s a new hobby, trying a new game or introducing myself to someone I idolize, my feet get colder than an Oshkosh winter wind. I’ve always needed that push to get me going.

Like many teens, I was simply clueless as to what I wanted to do with my life.

It wasn’t until I took a low-level English course my freshman year of college that I got hooked on journalism. Turns out, if I can write or talk about whatever I want, I can go on for a long time, which you’re about to find out. But please stick with me, it all wraps up at the end.

Fast forward to my junior year in my Writing for the Media class for my journalism major. My professor was Vince Filak and he was, and still is, the perfect professor for me. I can’t explain what it was about his teaching style, but he got me truly hooked into the world of journalism.

I kept hearing that I should to go down to the Advance-Titan, and I knew that I needed to get experience. Halfway through the semester, the news editors, Alison Hermann and Jessica Johnson (JJ), came into the class with a notepad and had us write down our name if we were interested in joining. Knowing this might be my chance to finally get down there and gain some real experience, I signed up.

I had no idea this would change my life as drastically as it did.

I still remember my first story– I was in Mi Taza interviewing fraternity members about their impact on campus and how to overcome the stereotypes they face. I don’t remember much of what they said, I only remember the whirring of the ice machine making a blended coffee drink drowning out the sound of their voices on my damn recording. As a new “journalist” I was incredibly nervous I was going to lose the interview audio. Spoiler alert: it turned out just fine.

During my first six weeks as a writer I found my groove and something I thoroughly enjoyed. I wrote deadline stories, a few stories a week and generally just enjoyed learning all about what was going on at UW Oshkosh.

After these early weeks, I was promoted to assistant news editor. Fifty percent of me wanted it because I knew it would advance my knowledge and journalism skills; the other 50 percent wanted it for the free trip to Washington, D.C., my favorite city. I had no idea that I would value the position I was in more than the trip.

During my first week as assistant news editor, Ti Windisch, the head news editor, and I had zero writers and zero stories for the first issue. Not great. It wasn’t great again when the Chancellor sent a message to the campus regarding a “lewd” sign that was hung kitty corner to the freshman dorms.

The sign read, “Free cream pie with freshman ID.”

I told Filak that I saw the sign when it was up and thoroughly laughed. He thoroughly tore my ass a new one, saying we need to hone in my journalistic eye for stories that are right in front of me.

The trip to D.C. is when I learned I have real friends in The A-T and was a true bonding experience. From sightseeing to the actual Associate Collegiate Press conference, to getting drunk at the Verizon Center after the Washington Wizards preseason game, to a $515 dinner bill, it was an experience I will never forget.

As I progressed from being an assistant editor to news editor over the past year, I learned so much. Designing pages for the paper is a tedious and annoying task every Wednesday, but I love it. Taking over and becoming news editor meant I could design pages how I wanted, within reason, with then editor-in-chief JJ making sure I didn’t go too far off the rails.

Over the last year, stories have come and gone and I have learned a lot about what it means to be a good journalist. A good journalist is wary and skeptical of the world. I’ve definitely learned those traits in the past year and a half with the A-T and learned to start taking those first steps on my own.

The biggest example of this is still going on: Willis Hagen. In pursuit of a story about Hagen being removed from a class he was teaching last spring, I had to find out where he lived. After doing so, I drove over, stepped out of my car and took the first steps towards his house. I knocked on the door, heart beating as fast as ever. The door creaked open and I tried to compose myself, but before I could, the door was slammed in my face.

I turned around, but I had taken the first step, a big one at that, to finding out what the hell he did to get pulled from that class. Through records requests and lawsuits, which I won and he is still appealing, I am determined to figure out what he did. I won’t stop for anything and just because my time at Oshkosh is coming to a close, that doesn’t mean I’m going away anytime soon.

For that I have my “pushers” to thank. As in the people who have pushed me in the right direction to take that first step to becoming a true journalist. These aren’t listed in any particular order because I couldn’t rank them as they are all vital in my growth as a journalist and a man.

Kara Gorham, you’ve been with me ever since the beginning of my journalism career, and I couldn’t ask for a better girlfriend. Despite going to Marquette, you have shown incredible interest in UWO and the A-T happenings. You read my stories every week regardless of how boring or exciting they are and couldn’t be happier to read them. Whenever I got down about a story or anything school related, you were always there to pick me up and show your overwhelming support. You’ve pushed me to start advancing my career and shown me so many possibilities of what I can do. We’ve had countless memories between going to Brewers game and brewery tours, to chilling at home playing cards, time spent with you is time well spent. Thank you so much for that, I am a damn lucky man to have you in my life.

Ti, ever since becoming co-workers back in 2016 we have been inseparable, as good or bad as that is. You showed me every side to every story and how to approach it differently. Being paired with you as editors was a perfect combo; we both played off each other strengths and weaknesses and what one couldn’t do the other could. Between talking sports and the Milwaukee Bucks to playing Call of Duty and Binding of Isaac as roommates, our friendship has blossomed into a relationship, and I will always love you, my guy. Don’t tell Kara.

Laura, you’ve been everything that I can ask for and more in an assistant. JJ, Ti and I knew we made that right call bringing you into the A-T. Watching you grow as a journalist and an editor has been amazing. From writing stories to designing your first pages to designing all the pages when I just don’t feel like working, you’ve more than carried your weight in the news section. Your personality is always upbeat and bubbly and is just what the newsroom needs. As you move to become managing editor, I know you’re going to miss being in news and designing pages, but the paper will be better with you overseeing all the pages rather than just two or three. You’ll be able to suggest certain style changes or make little tweaks to even just a font to make the page pop. Thank you for being such a great partner in crime and an even better friend.

JJ, your leadership as EIC was unparalleled. Even though I literally ran away from you when I saw you at Beer Gardens, our friendship flourished as the year went on. You taught me so much about journalism, design and just being a professional in the journalism world. You were calm, cool and collected in the times I was loud, annoyed and just over being a journalist. You were always there for me in the newsroom when my head was going a mile a minute and pushed me to be a better journalist. Your lack of emotions always had the newsroom laughing, especially when you found out a man had been in your car and I’ll never get over you not listening to me half the time. You showed me things that I probably never would’ve learned without you. You’ve been a phenomenal leader and friend, and for that I thank you.

Chip Skalet, Mike Johrendt, Ceabiscuit Goeman, thanks to all of you for keeping the newsroom hilarious forever and always. Mike you’re going to hold sports on lockdown like a top tier cornerback. Chip, you’re going to take over news and keep it running like a well-oiled machine. I have the upmost confidence in you. Ceabiscuit, aka Catalina, aka Kelly, aka Collin, you’re pretty cool my guy. You have resurrected campus connections. Keep up the good work.

Jess and Nyreesha, the two of you always provided comedic relief in the newsroom and weren’t afraid to tear the shit out of my spreads. You’ve become some of my most amazing friends and are always a blast to hangout with. I’ll always look up to you guys for what you have done for me as a journalist and as a person, too. I’ll never forget our Pub Crawl memories, going to get soul food and see “Get Out” or even watching clips of “The Office” in the newsroom with you guys. You showed me different perspectives I’ve never thought about before. Special shoutout to you Nyreesha for always coming through and giving me the best food advice– I appreciate you. Also, thank you both for giving me a chance after I wore my Iron Maiden shirt to the first production and you guys labeled me as “some type of psycho killer.” Hope the chance has paid off!

My parents Chris, Rick, Kris and Mike, you all have had your different ways of showing me you love me and shown that in raising me. Without each one of your styles, I don’t think I would be as well-rounded of a man as I am. You all have always been there for me regardless of what my choices are. I’m lucky to have four parents as great as all of you.

Last, but certainly not least, Vince, you have been a phenomenal mentor to me as a journalist and a person. My life changed for the better when I took Writing for the Media with you and you helped me become the journalist I am today. You were a loud, yet composed, voice in the newsroom to help me design pages and, with JJ, keep me from totally shutting down when adversity hit. You were all ears when I had what seemed like literally a thousand questions. Whether they were about life, my career or school, you were always all ears and never failed to give me a solid piece of advice. You pushed me to get stories I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get and helped me gain confidence in talking to people I didn’t know. I’ll never forget all the stories you’ve told over the last year and a half, mostly because I’ve heard them at least six times each, but that’s what makes you, you. I’ll miss our quips of “Archer” references and me acting like I know your obscure outdated sports references. Thank you for all that you did for me and I hope you know I’ll forever and always look to you for answers to questions I have. You won’t be rid of me for a while.
Special thanks to all of my sources, people who have helped me write stories and people who have helped me be a better journalist over the past year and a half including, but not limited to: Chancellor Andrew Leavitt, Alex Hummel, Brandon Miller, Kate McQuillan, Alicia Johnson, Christopher Tarmann, Randy Hedge, Petra Roter, Mandy Potts, Jamie Ceman, Miles Maguire, Tim Gleason, Jean Giovanetti, Alison Hermann, Morgan Van Lanen, Jake Frederick, Garrett Wright, all the copy editors and all of my writers. Thank you.

I don’t know what I am going to be doing next with my life and I hope I can find out sooner rather than later, but I know for sure that my career here at UWO has been a success and one of the best decisions I ever made.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
The end of an era: News boys move on