The final note from the editor

By Joseph Lamberson

In the three years since I joined the staff of The Daily Illini, I have been transformed. In working with my peers to rewrite the book on news content and delivery, I have gained a great deal of insight, lost a lot of sleep and made some truly amazing friends.

From my early work on-air to my year redeveloping DailyIllini.com, I have learned to approach the news from angles that I had never considered. This place and these people have shown me how to reach out to the people we yearn to speak to, our readership, and to give them anything and everything we’ve got.

It’s not about scooping the Tribune (which we do) or winning awards (which we do) and it’s definitely not about money or fame. The Daily Illini as an experience is about growth and encouragement, professionalism and empowerment. It is an exercise in futility and an essay on life, all due on the same day, every day.

Together, we have braved snow days and heat waves, drunken Thursdays and Unofficial St. Patrick’s Days, mostly while inside the newsroom. You see, that is what the passive observer doesn’t realize. The Daily Illini is not just a job for masochists and communications students (even if those are the types we draw). It is more a way of life unlike any I have ever seen.

Try getting a phone call at 3 a.m. to go cover a car accident near your apartment. Try skipping your weekend plans so you can sleep under your desk while covering the retirement of Chief Illiniwek. Try calling your friends at NIU 20 minutes after shots rang out, and comforting them as you work to gain any insight as to the occurrences of that fateful day.

It is a thankless existence filled with long nights and short deadlines, but an existence that we all choose because we know nothing more noble to do.

To the staff of The Daily Illini, I want to express my most heartfelt gratitude and undying affection.

You have taught me to be a bolder, more decisive person, while also teaching me to take the time to see the bigger story. Our work has been strong and our labors are by no means financially fruitful, but still we have toiled through more than 50 weeks together, and I thank you for sharing that time with me.

To our readers, I want to encourage you to look at the students who put out this daily publication as the journalists they are. Everything they do here is for you. Whether it is moving one of our stories to an inside page to provide the best perspective on the world beyond Chambana or holding a page for hours past our regular drop to ensure the best facts possible, the staff of The DI is an excellent and dedicated group that is just trying to do what it does best: provide you with the content that matters.

This is not me lecturing from a bully pulpit as, by the time you’ve read this, my office and job title will belong to someone else. It is, instead, a former reader and outgoing employee letting the rest of the world know what it means to be a DI staffer. It is hours of editing and preparation, meetings and content coming in for distribution seven days a week and little social contact from our friends on the outside.

Keep your eye on the people who work in this place right now. They are the future of the global media.

From within these ranks could rise the next Roger Ebert (DI 1961-64), Gene Shalit (DI 1945-49) or even Hugh Hefner (DI 1946-49). I truly believe that the level of talent I have witnessed here will only help to bolster the credibility of this great media organization and this fine university.

I would like to end this by thanking a few people who helped me to survive this post. I hope that the average reader does not consider it shallow or unprofessional, but without the countless, thankless hours of these people, the place we all love so much would cease to function.

To my level-headed and wise editorial adviser, Melinda Miller, thank you. To the guy who got me hired and promoted all those times, Jon Hansen, thank you. To the person who gave me my first lesson in journalism, Kate Pokarney, thank you. To the editor I have sought for guidance time and time again, my opinions editor, Andrew Mason, thank you.

The time I have spent in this place, working on stories, pages, packages and Web updates has meant the world to me, and I owe it to them, I owe it to the readers and I owe it to my staff to move on and do whatever I can in the next great project I pursue.

To each of you, to all of you, thank you.