|Wednesday, August 9, 2000||
Volume 65, Issue 166
to the Cougar (sort of)
From the editor
Ed De La Garza
I wrote a "goodbye" type of column for the last issue of the spring semester. It wasn't my last issue as editor in chief, but it was my last chance to speak to a wider audience than what is usual for the summer. I'm sorry to say that, unless you know me (which is kind of hard to do unless you live in the newsroom, too), this column will be mostly inside information. If you don't like it ... write a letter to the editor.
I thought about how I would want to write this, and decided that the less prepared and thought-out it was, the better.
Truth be told, these last issues have served as a bit of a microcosm of how the entire 186 went. We were blessed with some pretty big stories. There was Mike DeRouselle, George Hess, Arthur K. Smith's memo, the A&M bonfire tragedy, Kim Helton's departure, Dana Dimel's arrival, the HFAC merger, Clyde Drexler's resignation, the hiring of Ray McCallum, the Student Government Association impeachment, Hess again, Frank Cempa and, as always, a University gaffe littered here and there. That and so much more happened under my watch.
That, my friends, kicks major ass.
But we weren't just blessed with big stories. We were also blessed to have the writers available to cover them. "U-Wire," the most profane of words imaginable, was eliminated through a lot of hard work and a huge rebuilding process. In the past, the wire service was used out of necessity -- it was either that or run nothing but photos. But this year, all the section editors busted their asses to make sure this was our newspaper. Unlike The Daily Texan, we actually let our staff writers write.
Something else happened during my time here that I hadn't foreseen: I started liking this university. Hell, I finally formed a connection with it. This is my school, and I don't take kindly to having its image tarnished -- not by people who voice concern over policies or actions, or people who uphold justice and truth, but by blunder after blunder after blunder.
And really, I think that connection only occurred because I got involved. I'd been at The Daily Cougar since January 1997, but up until Spring '99, I hadn't really become all that active. But Spring '99 editor Jim Parsons took a chance on me, and for that I'm grateful. Funny how a common goal tends to bring people together.
Critics of the "get involved" mantra may point out that this isn't a traditional school. That's true, it isn't. But not everyone works a full-time job and takes a full course load. Some of you have extra time not spent going to classes or studying. For those who continue wasting their time, this will always remain "Cougar High." But you know, A&M and Texas don't force their students to become active. There is a choice.
While I'd like to stress the Cougar as a good place to start, there are numerous organizations on campus that cater to different interests. Explore them all.
Anyway, on to the shout-outs ... or something.
I made some friends because of this gig. Chief among them was former SGA President Tom Cassidy. Who would've thought the Cougar editor and SGA president would ever interact unless they had to? At one time, the DC and SGA didn't exactly get along. But in the end, we're all students trying to make a difference. We both understood that the Cougar wouldn't refrain from being critical when it was warranted (witness last April). To all SGA members, I say good luck in the fall.
As I said earlier, everybody worked hard to give the campus a student newspaper it could be proud of. Parsons worked to recruit news writers. We kept quite a few of them, too. Jason Caesar Consolacion, and later Josh Gajewski, helped bring the sports section to a higher level. Jake McKim provided us with a wider assortment of entertainment stories. Brandons Franks and Moeller continued giving the students a place to express their views.
I'm proud of all of them. It's because of them that we kicked the Houston Chronicle's ass three times.
Dick Cigler, Kelly Truitt, Sobana Rajagopol and Reeda Hadley don't get much mention unless they do something press-worthy (they're clean, we've checked). But they put up with us students -- they let us work, they encourage us and they give us advice when we need it.
Hadley, the business office manager, is retired as of today. Good luck, Reeda, and thanks for putting up with my payroll disk problems. Rajagopol is the advertising manager. The paper starts with her staff, which actually makes it possible for us to publish. She tested us with some pretty big papers this past year, but they were good tests, and we passed.
Truitt, the production manager, is in charge of the students who actually put the paper together, from the ads to the actual layout you're looking at now. Thanks, Kelly -- and yes, I do mean it.
Cigler is the director of Student Publications. He oversees not only the Cougar, but the Houstonian, Transitions and the UH telephone directory as well. He doesn't like to step in, but when he does, you know you've done something wrong. Thanks for all the advice, Dick.
There are approximately 100 students working in Student Publications ... and I'm going to name them all. Strike that. A lot of students work here, from the editors to the writers to the advertising representatives to the production staff to the business office workers. Just because they don't have a byline doesn't mean they aren't important.
Before I end this, I'd like to give the mandatory outgoing-editor-advice to incoming editor Brandon Moeller, who'll have to abandon his "being kept down by 'The Man' persona" because he is The Man now. Keep the paper focused. Worry about deadlines, space budgets and the overall job as editor: providing the campus with fair, unbiased and timely news as well as a forum for opinion. Worry about everything else as it comes. You'll be a wreck by September if you let everything else get to you.
Anyway, it was a great year for The Daily Cougar. It was stress-filled, but it was that good kind of stress, the kind that pushes you. I'll be the Sports editor in the fall (anyone interested in writing for the section should see me). If I forgot to mention anybody ... it was intentional.
It's been fun. As always, be good to yourselves and one another.
De La Garza gladly hands whipping-boy duties over to Moeller.