One year ago I was cleaning out my desk in Room 243, the newsroom of The Temple News, the college newspaper of Temple University since September 1921.
I spent one year as a reporter, one year as a columnist, one year as a contributor and one year as an editor. It is, truly, where I first developed the craft, came to understand the rules and learned journalism and writing was a real professional opportunity.
I got a lot out of Room 243, TTN’s newsroom in the student center at 13th and Montgomery in Philadelphia, Pa. So, I thought it was worth revisiting what I did, what I learned and how it has affected me now 12 months clean.
First I should say writing, and even journalism, seemed a much more promising and lucrative profession even just in 2004. In October of that year I was settling into Temple University’s Peabody Hall, the first and only dormitory experience of my life. My resident assistant was a sweet-talking New Orleans-native named Donnell Jackson, now a TV news producer at the NBC affiliate in Winston-Salem, N.C.
My Start in Journalism
I played basketball, occasionally ate and often joked with Donnell, who came to know my interests in writing, which was then wholly undirected, as I grew up in a small town and graduated from a high school too small to have any school media presence. He encouraged me to get involved with The Temple News.
That sounded like about the coolest thing I ever heard of. And that’s how my journalism career began.
I soon came under the wing of Brandon Lausch, then a long-haired, skateboarding junior Editorial page editor raised in Lancaster County and now a reporter at the Courier News in central New Jersey. For him I penned the first clip of my career on Oct. 15, 2004, a giant 620-word, John Stossel-inspired attack on the FDA. I didn’t know what the Hell I was doing and can remember being at first intimidated by what I saw as the power of a 10,000-circulation college newspaper in the fourth-largest media market in the country. I consider Brandon my first teacher, I’ll even say mentor of journalism.
Because, it seems funny to say, I took just one journalism class in my entire four productive years at Temple University. I was a political science major and that one class I did stay in was more because I loved the professor – former Sports Illustrated scribe and NBA referee Chuck Newman, a funny and haggard, frazzled old cook – than any academic rigor.
No, my classroom was The Temple News and my teachers became the talented young journalists just a year or two older than I was. It was in this way I became so devoted to the power of college media, young people gaining confidence and self-realization by teaching and learning from their peers.
Freshman year 2004/05 – First began contributing to editorial-page commentary
Sophomore year 2005/06 – Continued commentary, while also acquiring news and features clips
Junior year 2006/07 – Mostly gone while traveling and studying in Japan, though I contributed late in the year
Senior year 2007/08 – Named Opinion editor, leading the editorial page, its board and commentary, additionally wrote weekly column, created multimedia packages, news and features clips
My Most Memorable Experiences
I’d like to share some experiences.
During my remarkable tenure with The Temple News I took photos, video, cut audio, edited multimedia, reported news, wrote features, filed a weekly column, edited a section, led the editorial board, helped with Web design, alumni relations, archive-organization and future planning and development. The value of working with a storied, historic, large college newspaper is entering a culture and finding a world of knowledge and learning, particularly being able to cover big city news. But all of that happened in the friendly and fun culture of a college newspaper. I learned more there than I may realize.
I’d like to share some of my work below.
I took photos of a Hillary Clinton 2008 presidential campaign rally that was held at Temple University March 4, 2008.
I wrote a weekly column called Community Visions, which another writer continued after my departure. Its purpose was to bridge the often wide gap between the Temple University community and its surrounding neighbors. So I covered those communities, what affected them. I developed relationships, got calls, e-mails, even letters from community residents. They picked up the newspaper from time to time already, now they had a real reason to do so. I knew there was a void in coverage and felt it was an opportunity to bolster our readership.
Temple-News.com is the Web version of the student newspaper of Temple University. I helped our Web editor Sean Blanda organize and design the very large move from College Publisher CMS to a WordPress-based site. Read more about Sean’s heavy lifting here.
Peter J. Liacouras Multimedia Package
I was eager to develop multimedia packages. When I realized the 25th anniversary of the Temple logo nearly coincided with the completion of a host of projects first launched by long-retired university president Peter J. Liacouras I reached out to him the August before my senior year. By October we met, and, after a couple more meetings with a photographer and videographer, we had our packge, again with the help of Blanda. See the finished product here.
Hall & Oates
A bit of a server problem lost the final product of my second multimedia package for The Temple News, despite the hard work of Web Editor Sean Blanda. Still, I got the chance to interview both Daryl Hall and John Oates, who were gracious and bright and proud Temple alumni. My primary feature on Temple University alumni Hall & Oates is still available though, as is an online-only feature I wrote about the Hall & Oates impact on the Sound of Philadelphia and the Uptown Theater.
Barack Obama Race Speech Feature
Barack Obama in Philadelphia, delivers speech on race at Constitution Center
By Christopher Wink
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., addressed race and bigotry, crucial issues in the ongoing Democratic presidential primary of late, during a speech at a private rally in a full second floor hall of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia this morning.
“We’ve been in a racial stalemate for four years,” Obama said to a crowd of several hundred, including a throng of media. He spoke at length of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., a former pastor of Obama’s in Chicago… Read more.
I was there, and I’ll always be able to say that. I took that photo, among others, fought the crowds and saw what will be called one of the most meaningful political campaign speeches ever given.
See all my posts for Broad & Cecil, TTN’s news blog that launched in September 2007, here, and all my posts for Room 243, the alumni blog I helped launch, here.
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