Closson: What memories matter

Troy Closson, Daily Senior Staffer

Graduation Issue

About two months after joining The Daily as a freshman, I quit.

And it wasn’t a fake, fun, still planning to come back in a couple days kind of “quit,” I was actually done. Within three weeks on campus, I’d already heard stories from other black students about how The Daily wasn’t supportive of the students of color who worked there and constantly made mistakes in covering others on campus who didn’t. So I wrote my four stories, fall quarter ended and I thought I was done coming up to the third floor of Norris.

For a while I was.

But after hearing other people in Medill talk about “op-eds” all the time and having no idea what that meant, one day I looked up the definition on Wikipedia. I still vividly remember not understanding what they were even after that, so I read some in The Daily. That day, I learned it was a thing in journalism that you basically could write down all of your complaints on any given topic and call it an opinion piece. And, well, I had a lot to complain about when it came to Northwestern.

So about two months after quitting The Daily as a freshman, I joined again. But only to complain on a weekly basis, usually about different aspects of diversity or inclusion on campus.

Fast forward, and the rest is much less interesting because it involves less quitting and less complaining — at least in a written way.

But it’s worth remembering.

A couple weeks ago, I didn’t really have much to say about my time in the newsroom, mostly because of how much the highs and lows — mainly the lows — of this year there in particular had become all that came to mind when I thought “The Daily.” All the time spent in Norris taught me a lot though, and that’s not going to go away regardless of whether it’s the first thing I think of. It took a long time for me to even just enjoy coming to the newsroom — and even longer for me to feel proud of anything we do as a paper. But the road to get there made me become much more vocal about bringing up diversity issues than I ever would’ve been before coming to Northwestern and changed the type of journalism I wanted to do. In some ways, despite any of the bad experiences — or really because of them — I feel more prepared to be a black journalist than I think I could’ve been otherwise.

The good memories don’t go away either. For a long time, the only thing I cared about besides diversity and inclusion was making the newsroom a more fun place, mainly because I didn’t want to stay there all night while constantly being tired and miserable which was my impression of the status quo when I joined. Between all the secret meetings in secret offices that unfortunately weren’t held over delicious meals of CBH (corned beef hash for the uninformed folks) and scrapple, remixes of “We Belong Together” and conversations with people who became over-enthusiastic fans of Blake Griffin and Jay Crawford after learning their stories, I had a lot of fun. Too many people to name were part of that along the way, and I’m really thankful for all everyone who made the endless number of great experiences great — even the haters who refused to organize the famed cross-campus relay that never was.

All this was to say my time at The Daily isn’t easy to sum up in a few words. Maybe that’s a good thing. It’s definitely something that means a lot, with all the good — and bad — experiences that came with it.

To end, I’d like to set things straight for future staff members who might be told otherwise by liars and fabricators trying to steal credit for my work, I was the first — and consensus would say best — chair of the social team in institutional memory.