This is not an exit

Reflections on a year working a dream come true

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2014 at 9:00 am


I’ll never forget the day Andy Rossback and I sat down at Marche Café.

“What do you think of this issue?” he asked.

Since we parted ways upon enrolling at the University of Oregon, he and I had kept in touch over coffee every month or so. When he was appointed the editor-in-chief of The Emerald, he would often discuss future ventures in a roundabout way — we had, after all, spent an entire year practically joined at the hip at the helm of The Torch, Lane Community College’s student paper.

And so I critiqued. I told Andy that the cover headline promised a story that didn’t materialize in the issue. The headlines were weak. Ledes weren’t what they could be.

As I tore apart an issue of the newspaper Andy managed, he simply said, “We have an opening for a print managing editor. You interested?”

Hell yes I was.

I tried to play it off. (I still don’t know if he bought it.) I asked if I could have a couple of days to think about it. I was, after all, in the middle of a pretty big project at Flux. But when it came down to it, working for a newspaper like The Oregonian or The Seattle Times is where I wanted to end up and this was the perfect way to do it.

I consulted my adviser at Flux. I called my former news adviser from The Torch. And on March 13, 2013, I walked into Suite 300 in the Erb Memorial Union to sign the paperwork and officially accept the position of print managing editor at Emerald Media Group after a week-long application process.

I was just supposed to sit down and observe that day. I was expecting to be home by 7 p.m. But 9 p.m. rolled around and I was marking up proofsheets when the woman I was replacing asked, “Do you just wanna finish out the night?”

My name went on the masthead then and there. Instead of orientation, I had my first day on the job.

It’s been a wild 12 months since then. I’ve learned more about myself than I could have imagined by working alongside some of the most talented and driven people I’ve ever met. Hell, I’m confident saying they’re some of the most talented and driven people to ever walk the University of Oregon campus.

I can’t imagine having spent the last year anywhere else. When I was a senior in high school — way back in 2004 — I visited the Oregon Daily Emerald offices on a campus tour. I was 17. Since then, this is exactly where I hoped I would spend my college days. Working here has literally been a dream come true.

My one-year anniversary with Emerald Media Group also marks Ryan Frank’s last day working out of these same offices. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

And to come out of this relatively short experience having worked with somebody I respect and admire so ardently is … I honestly have no words.

Soon after I arrived in Suite 300, Ryan pulled me into the conference room to give the same speech he recited to every new hire. He drew a vertical line and posed The New York Times at the top. At the bottom he wrote, “Inexperienced first-year UO student.” As he ticked off checkpoints on his way to the top of the line, he established different benchmarks.

Journalism classes. The Emerald. The Oregonian. And so on until we reached his scrawl that read “NYT.”

“How are you going to get from here,” he said as he underlined the bottom of the line and made his way to the top, “to here?”

I had no clue then. I think I might be closer to the answer now.

I thought I had a lot figured out before I started at The Emerald. I was, after all, recruited to help turn around one of the organization’s flagship products. But one or two conversations with Ryan proved just how much I have left to learn.

The people I’ve worked with in the last year helped me become a better reporter, editor and overall person. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone into work without a smile on my face over the last 12 months. It’s because of the time I’ve spent locked away in Suite 300 that another dream of mine came true: I’m spending a summer reporting for The Oregonian starting June 23.

I couldn’t have done it without the multitude of people who helped me get there. So with that, I’m going to wrap up this post because I’m sure you have a hell of a lot of things you’d rather do on this sunny Oregon afternoon than read this long-winded reflection.

To Andy Rossback, Nate Makuch and McKenna Brown: Thanks for taking a chance on me. I wouldn’t be heading from one dream job to another if it weren’t for you.

To Sam Stites: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to prove my mettle under your leadership and indulging in the occasional burrito emergency with me.

To Jake Crump, Eliza Collins and Chelsea Wicks: The hardships and triumphs we’ve experienced as the 2013-2014 management staff will count among my most cherished memories at the University of Oregon.

To Sami Edge and Samantha Matsumoto: I’ve learned more from the two of you than you could ever learn from me.

And Ryan: Again, I can’t express how grateful I am for the pep talks, the ass-kickings and everything in between.

It’s been a good year.

But what do YOU think?

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