North Texas Daily

Letter from the Editor: One unusual semester later, it isn’t goodbye yet

Letter from the Editor: One unusual semester later, it isn’t goodbye yet

Letter from the Editor: One unusual semester later, it isn’t goodbye yet
April 30
11:53 2020

Chief’s Log, Day 43:
I’m still trapped in quarantine, although my governor made an announcement a few days back that local businesses will be allowed to open back up soon. I don’t think I’ll be making the venture outside just yet, though, as the curve hasn’t entirely been flattened. I’m losing track of time, going slightly mad and running out of protein powder. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

All joking aside, this is NOT how I pictured my semester as Editor-in-Chief here at the North Texas Daily going. If you told me in December that halfway through the semester the school would essentially close and my education, job and essentially my life would transition entirely onto my laptop, I would’ve laughed at you. But, here we are, and there’s nothing I can do but make the most of it. This might be a little different from letters in the past, but hold on and hear me out.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get everything done that I wanted to. I really wanted to increase our multimedia production and we were off to a good start until Spring Break. I wanted to introduce a Business section but it never quite got off the ground. I won’t make excuses for why this stuff never happened, it just didn’t and I wish it had. What is a job if not a learning opportunity?

We did, however, continue to put together amazing content on a regular basis. Our breaking news was up to industry standards and I couldn’t be happier with how we’ve covered UNT this semester.

We’ll be hearing back soon from the Student Services Fee Committee on how our funding will be affected in the near future. Our presentation at the beginning of the semester went very well, but I can’t help but feel nervous about what the future holds. The Daily has a history of amazing coverage and award-winning journalism (as you can see by our awards won at TIPA this year) but if the people in power don’t see us for what we are — the best source of news for UNT students, created by UNT students — then there’s not much we can do.

I’m so unbelievably proud of the staff that I put together. In my first letter, I hinted at their potential and now I’ll tell you that I had every right to be so bold then. A few of the staff members might be younger than what you’d typically see on the editorial board, but they worked beyond their years to produce what you’ve seen from us.

There are a few people I want to thank by name. If I don’t mention you, just know that it’s not because I’m not thankful for you, I just ran out of space.

First, to my second-in-command, Brielle Thomas. Coming into this semester, I asked a lot from you: Taking on two unique positions on top of a graduate school load of classwork. And you excelled. You saved my skin a few times when I forgot to do something or was away from the office. You helped the youngest Editor-in-Chief in quite a few years get through a tough semester and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Next, to Austin Troy Banzon. You and your illustrators continue to inspire and amaze me to this day. I can hardly draw stick figures and you and your team have contributed to some of the most visually fantastic front covers of the Daily I’ve seen since I’ve been here. You never told me no, even though there are a few times when I probably increased your workload too much. I have so much respect for your work ethic and your dedication.

Finally, to Matt Suarez. I’m a very protective person and Matt took over my baby, the sports section. I told him (admittedly over a bottle of wine) that if he ever felt like I was overstepping my boundaries to not be afraid to put me in my place. Matt held his own any time we had a tiff and I feel like I was harder on him than anyone else on staff. I see great things in Matt. He never turned me down when I asked him to write a story and he did a fantastic job of carrying on a sports section when there were no sports going on. Now, I just need to get him to admit that LeBron is better than Jordan.

I couldn’t have done this job without the help of the aforementioned people and countless others. I feel like Barack Obama after his first term — I can’t believe how much I’ve aged in five months.

Even though my term as editor is over, I won’t be going far. Hopefully, our next Editor-in-Chief, Spencer Kain, will welcome me back to the staff. Spencer is a fantastic writer and a great leader and I’m so pleased he stepped up to the plate to work here this semester. If my thoughts don’t deceive me, he’s the fourth straight EIC to come from a different section, meaning in the past year, we’ve had each section of the Daily represented. How’s that for diversity?

I’ll close this long-winded monologue with an idea: Tough times create tougher people. The world right now sucks. People are dying due to a virus we know next-to-nothing about. But I encourage you to sit back and look at the good that could come out of this. I’ve spent more quality time with my mom in the past month than I have in the past year. I’ve read more books since shutdown than I can count (I just finished “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” I definitely recommend a reread to everyone).

I have a job that I can do from home, I have parents that love and support me enough to welcome me back home. I don’t say any of this to brag or to make you feel worse if you’ve been struggling recently (I have too). If you’ve made it this far in my memoir, sit back and list five things you’re grateful for. Right now, I can think of a shortlist of things we need right now: Good health, good leadership, a positive mindset and responsible journalism. It just so happens you can find them all at the Daily.

Stay safe, wash your hands and support student media.

Featured Image: Zachary Cottam poses in his backyard on April 29, 2020. Image by April Cottam

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Zachary Cottam

Zachary Cottam

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