Any journalist will tell you that the hardest part of any story to write is the ending.
Most of the time, we half-ass it. We end on a quote or throw in some meaningless sentence just so we don’t have to actually think about how to conclude. I’ve realized as my fours years at The Daily Utah Chronicle come to a close, I’m doing just that: avoiding the ending because it’s too damn hard.
I started reporting for the newspaper as a freshman, when I was a small and bumbling, nervous know-it-all who, as it turns out, didn’t know all that much. The only thing I remember from my first day at the office was seeing a bowling pin with Nicolas Cage’s face glued to the top of it. It was a weird first impression, yes, but magical. Even though, as you can imagine, that was pretty hard to beat, my experiences in the newsroom have only gone up from there.
Now I’m a foul-mouthed reporter who started this column by asking her managing editor which swear words are permissible to print (she graciously gave me free rein to the whole damn lot). I’ve learned everything I know about journalism here: how to craft a lede, how to ask tough questions, how to pitch an idea, how to tell meaningful stories and how to eat pizza with one hand while typing a police blotter with the other (though that seems of lesser importance now).
These four years have been more valuable than any lesson in a classroom could ever be. I’ve been able to mess up (a lot), try new things (a lot) and hate the Oxford comma (even more). When I look back on my college years, I’ll forget the stress of papers and exams — give it a couple years, those wounds are still pretty fresh — and remember my time at The Chronicle. I’ll think about the stories I wrote on ASUU, the dean of the Honors College, Medicaid expansion, same-sex marriage and students building an igloo to smoke pot in (yes, that last one really did happen).
Despite not being a sappy person, I suppose I’ll also look back on the truly brilliant (and undeniably zany) people I’ve been lucky enough to work with.
I’ll miss worrying about life with Katherine Ellis. I’ll miss Emily Juchau, whose love of Diet Coke and “Mad Max: Fury Road” is something to strive for. I’ll miss Cynthia Luu, who constantly makes me laugh and is the only one who understands that I’m actually an emotionless robot. I’ll miss hearing about Kim Brenneisen’s savvy shopping trips to Nordstrom Rack and Kylee Ehmann’s odd obsession with Antiques Roadshow.
I’ll miss being salty to my co-worker and soon-to-be-friend Griffin Adams (though we really are the same person) and arguing with Ryan Miller about sasquatches (rest assured, we both believe in the beautiful bipedal Big Foot). I’ll miss Devin Wakefield’s analogies and yelling at Mark Klekas from across the room. I’ll miss Taylor Stocking spontaneously serenading me.
I’ll also miss finding elaborate ways to work Kevin Bacon into every answer to a staff picks question. Obviously this is my most transferrable newsroom skill.
Thanks to the two greatest mentors, Matt Canham and Sheena McFarland, both of whose no-nonsense critiques on my work over the past few years undoubtedly made me into the journalist I am today. Thanks also to Emily Andrews, who taught me two important lessons: send the haters to the left and always say “yes” to Chinese food. Additionally, a hearty “thank you” goes out to all of the reporters and editors I’ve worked with over the years. I owe a whole lot to the whole lot of you.
Sorry if that list felt like an acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards. Because of my tone-deaf singing, it’s likely the only chance I’ll ever get to experience anything akin to that. I appreciate you, dear reader, for bearing through it.
All of this has been to say that The Chronicle, though challenging at times, will be a tough place to leave. It’s been a home for me; it’s where I learned to stand up for what I believe in, where I ate a diet consisting of 80 percent TUMS and 20 percent junk food and where I learned what “Hotline Bling” really means. I’ll miss this kick-ass place of phenomenal journalism.
I’m not one of those silly people who will tell you that every end is just a new beginning. That’s stupid. Endings are the hardest part because they mean the most. You can never adequately wrap up a 400-word story or four years of work in a single sentence. So, to help me finish things off in the best way I know, here’s a real motivational quote from my boy Ice Cube: “Chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self.”