OPINION: To CM Life on its 100th birthday, thank you. I owe you.
When scheduling content for this 100th-anniversary edition of Central Michigan Life, I considered writing about plenty of different things.
First, I thought I could chronicle my daily routine on a production day, to show editors-in-chief of the past how different the job of being EIC at CM Life has become. Much removed are the days when the print edition was always the No. 1 priority, as we all know.
Then, I thought no, that would be too explanatory and boring. Nobody wants to hear about me explaining my job. Only a few people bothered to tell me how important this position was, so why tell the masses about my individual duties, right?
My next idea was going to be talking about some of the favorite pieces of CM Life history the staff has picked up over the last few weeks. We’ve flipped through hundreds of pages of newspapers, sat with university historians and spent hours in the Clarke Historical Library database researching our history.
I talked myself out of that one too. We already have enough history in this edition.
Now, it’s just past midnight on Tuesday before production day. And I still don’t have a column idea.
But, earlier this week, CM Life adviser Dave Clark said something that sparked my interest. We used this week’s editorial to thank people who have supported us over the past century — readers, advertisers, professors and other supporters.
Being that this week is CM Life’s 100th birthday, I’ve been feeling obligated to also do some thanking. However, not to our readers or clients, whom I am grateful for, but to CM Life and what it’s given me over the last three years.
Before I start, it’s worth mentioning that it is my senior year. This is probably my second to last semester with CM Life, which has been my life since coming to Central Michigan University. This isn’t a farewell column. This is a thankful column.
My incredible experience started with the first interaction with the editor-in-chief as a freshman.
I was absolutely geeked to be interviewing the son of legendary Iowa college basketball coach Tom Davis. So geeked, in fact, that I convinced my editors at the time to give me a shot at doing a profile on Keno Davis, despite being a lowly general assignment sports reporter. Days later I’m told that my first profile story and in-depth feature is going to be the cover of the basketball edition, which happened to be published on my 18th birthday.
After filing my story, my editors invited me to see the final product on the pages on production night. I was thrilled to see my work being designed by my superiors.
I sat down to line-edit my story one final time with Dominick Mastrangelo, our editor-in-chief. We walked out of his office and he grabs the entire newsroom’s attention to congratulate me. A few editors stopped what they were doing and clapped. Then, Mastrangelo asked me, “What byline is this for you?”
My face turned bright red. I panicked.
It was only my third week out here. I had absolutely NO clue what a byline was. I said, “Umm, what’s that?”
Now, most of the editors in the room were paying attention. They all burst into laughter while I try to write it off as a joke.
One of my first unforgettable memories of my CM Life career was a complete embarrassment. I later learned that a byline is my name on a story. Mastrangelo was asking me how many stories I had written before that edition’s cover story. I specifically remember calling my mom after it happened, too. Obviously, I wanted to tell her how cool it looked. Instead, she heard about the embarrassment I caused myself. Looking back, I would have laughed pretty hard too if someone said that.
It’s stories like these that make my experience so fulfilling. Three years in, I now have hundreds of them. The CM Life newsroom has given me the college experience I could only dream of in high school.
More importantly, beside making friends and good memories, CM Life helped me learn that journalism is my passion. I used to be the kid who picked journalism out of the list of majors because I thought I was a good writer. I quickly realized that journalism was much less about writing skills, and much more about being fearless, being persistent and building relationships. Thanks to CM Life, a response to a Freedom of Information Act request feels more like a Christmas gift than the actual ones I receive. It taught me the importance of holding those in power accountable for their actions.
I’m not sure how I could ever repay this organization. It has helped me become who I am today. That is why I’m thanking CM Life on its 100th anniversary.