I didn't become a journalist to become a liberal mouthpiece crying for the end to the fascist dictatorship of America or a pundit to warn Fox News watchers about the dangers of gay Santa Claus. I just wanted to write, and since I've worked at the Colorado Daily, I've had the utmost pleasure doing that.
I'm not here to be the next Woodward and Bernstein. If Deep Throat called me with a tip that would take down the current administration but at the same time I somehow managed to get an interview with Sigourney Weaver who wanted to talk about her character Ripley in the "Alien" series, I'd choose the president story, but I'd have to put a lot of thought into it.
Being a reporter is not an easy, well-paying or even good career. Whether it's your readers or your interviewees, everybody seems to hate you. I don't write to be hated. I write because I find things interesting, and I want to share them with you.
Despite the hardships, there can be amazing rewards for a journalist.
I've interviewed celebrities from Matt Stone of "South Park" fame, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Kevin Nealon from "Weeds" and "Saturday Night Live." Nealon was my favorite guy to interview because we talked about how my friend and I dressed up like his character from the "SNL" skit Hans and Franz as a kid for Halloween.
I've taken advantage of press passes and gone to amazing concerts, gallery openings and restaurants. The best of the best was when I received pre-advance tickets to see "Star Wars: Episode III." Judge me or the movie, but it was such a cool experience to be one of the first journalists in the world to see it.
I've met lots of people, and everybody has a story to tell — some more interesting than others. Folks sometimes approach me with news, which leads me to my next point.
I've always loved keeping my ear to the ground, whether it's the University of Colorado planning to spend a lot of money redesigning their football mascot, or like the time when I broke what I think is a fascinating story. About a decade ago, a black student was walking home from the Boulder bars with friends. Some guy called him a "n****r" and sucker-punched him. This opened up a lot of strife in Boulder and CU, and while I wasn't happy about that mess, I was glad I could help bring the story to the public to see if we could fix some of this.
Life lessons are to be learned all around a newspaper. Most of them are: Don't work in a newspaper. Out of all the old staff, only one of them still works at the paper — I'm looking at you Christy Fantz in Your Pants. Everybody else has moved on to other things. I think I have one friend from journalism school working in journalism.
I can tell you some hilarious stories about stories I've covered. Whether it was the time I showed up to an anti-abortion rally wearing a Punisher T-shirt (the pro-lifers were not thrilled to be interviewed by somebody wearing a giant skull, which I totally understand) or the time I freaked out during a controlled burn in a rancher's field. I panicked, ran into a pasture, slipped and fell into loads of cow shit. The firefighters laughed at me so hard, all I could do was smile, wave and hope nobody took my business card.
I helped out with the interns and helped do some other stuff with the newspaper layout. I can't remember what it was, but I know I did something.
I made friends and enemies. There's one lady that snapped at me for misquoting her, which I understand. But it was for something so small, I didn't think it was worthy of calling me lots and lots of names. As for friends, I made amazing ones in the staff room of the Daily.
I still find my stories being quoted on the interwebs. I know it's nothing hard-hitting, but some pro-weed group still shows off one of my stories about how you should smoke pot instead of drink on Saint Paddy's Day.
Finally, there's a wise lesson my mentor taught me (and I know I'm misquoting this, but I hope you and he will bear with me): "If you're writing and you don't know the difference between 'stationary' and 'stationery,' why should anybody trust you to know what's going on in the world?"
There's a lesson in that, somewhere.