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A long, strange trip

04/16/2014

All week long, I’ve been expecting to feel some powerful sense of finality—like seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. This semester, which will be my last before graduation next August, is days away from being over.

But there’s nothing. Maybe it just hasn’t hit me yet, or maybe it’s still too far away for me to appreciate. I don’t know, but I’m just not as excited about seeing my college career draw to a close as I thought I would be. 

I feel sad more than anything else. Wistful may be a better word for it. This issue of The Chanticleer will be the last that I ever contribute a column to. My words will most likely never be printed in JSU’s student newspaper again—unless I make it big and come back to be the Ayers Lecture speaker.

It feels like it’s been such a long, strange trip, but I’ve only been on the editorial staff since January of 2013. Self Hall has been a second home to me for the past three years during my studies, though. Many of the faculty and staff who work in that building are like family to me now.

I am going to miss it. I know I have to go on to bigger things, but there was never a day of work in at The Chanticleer that I didn’t believe in what we were doing. I’m very proud of the newspaper we’ve printed for the past year.

Working on the staff was a great way to reinforce what I learned in my Communication courses, too. (That should really underscore the importance of getting involved, dear readers—especially for you Communication students!)

We had enough controversy to keep things interesting—after covering two very popular college football teams one time last fall, an Internet tough guy declared us “amateurs” on some forum that maybe twelve people read.

Despite actually being amateurs, we brought home some awards—at last year’s Society of Professional Journalists regional conference, we won third place in the best all-around category. Brett, Kara and I have also been recognized for our columns.

We goofed up, too. We once ran a story about the Biology Department’s suppository of herbs in the herbarium (instead of repository). Whoops.

Did we make a difference? I don’t know. I hope so. Maybe that question would be better answered by the family of brown bats recently evicted from Mason Hall. 

Did anyone like what we wrote? The jury’s out on that one, too. I think many students still don’t realize that The Chanticleer is their newspaper. It could be their voice, but it mostly goes unused.

So it’s been a heck of a job. I’ve got no regrets. Like the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20—there are a few things I would try to do differently, but by and large, I’m really happy. I loved every issue I helped put together—even if sometimes it was the kind of love you’d have for a red-headed stepchild.

If it weren’t for Kara Coleman, I probably never would’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow as much as I have in the past year. She’s done a great job as the Chief, and she deserves a medal for putting up with me.

While this is the last issue of the newspaper I will work on, I’ll still be around this summer to help on the abstract. I’m thankful I don’t have to say goodbye to my Self Hall family yet, but these are my last words to the audience of The Chanticleer.

So: thank you to anyone who has ever read my column, or any of our newspaper. Thank you to anyone who has ever had the misfortune of being interviewed for a story by me. And most of all, thank you for making the past year a gentle one. Happy trails.

Zach Tyler

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