As I’m writing out this “goodbye” style column and thinking about my time at The Chanticleer, I’ve realized there’s a lot to think about.
Not just because of all the good memories, which were plentiful, but because of how it got started.
I got started with The Chanticleer writing about sports when everyone was sent home due to COVID-19.
You know, when no sports were happening? Yeah, then.
Even then, I quickly realized I knew next to nothing about how to write a news article.
As we got back to campus, I was able to get more opportunities to write, but I knew I was still in over my head.
On April 20, 2021 (I had to dig deep in my outbox for that fact), I sent an email to Mr. Ben Cunningham, who I had for a class about social media. I heard he had worked in newspapers, so it only made sense to ask him how to write.
In short, the email conveyed something like, “I have no clue what I’m doing, please help me learn to write a half-decent article.”
The next day, we met on the back porch of Self Hall, and I got a crash course on how to write a news article.
Do I remember all of it today? No.
Did I remember all of it when I left Self Hall that day? Honestly, still no.
However, I remember I was told some quick hits, like how to begin a story, the inverted pyramid (to which I have referred to as the “pyramid scheme” too many times to count) and how to gather quotes.
From there, I wrote. Not that well, but I wrote.
Any chance I could get, I would write about football, a professor getting an award, a COVID-19 vaccine clinic or whatever I could get my hands on.
Eventually, I wrote about sports all the time and took over as interim sports editor in 2021 when Ashley Morrison, former Chanticleer sports editor and current cops and crime reporter at The Anniston Star, had to step down from her role.
Back to the drawing board.
I could write, but this whole concept of managing people, editing articles and planning a budget was a foreign concept that took me too long to feel remotely comfortable with.
Again, I asked for advice from a lot of people, whose words still echo in my mind as I’m writing an article or considering how to approach something.
Over a year later, here I am sitting pretty close to graduation writing this out as my time as editor-in-chief comes to a close.
As you can suspect, I had a lot of people help me get here.
When I spoke to Cunningham on that day two years ago, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.
Now, I’m proud to call him a mentor and step into his old workplace, The Anniston Star, as I begin my job as a full-time sports writer on May 1.
To my mentor, professor and friend, thank you for taking the time to work with someone like me for this long and for continually being a resource for students at Jax State.
To my editors, Anna Barrett, Anna Gurganus and Justin Travis, you guys are the reason The Chanticleer is what it is.
Anna B, seeing your growth into a newsroom leader this year has been awesome. You will succeed in more ways than more than you know.
Anna G, you provided reliability day in and day out. Your great attitude and attention to detail never went unnoticed this year.
Justin, you covered every sport with upmost importance and always extended a hand. I’ll see you in the press box this football season.
Now, to the great folks I get to work with soon at The Anniston Star, Mark, Jared, Joe and Tyler, thank you for the support you've given me as I've juggled responsibilities at both The Chanticleer and The Anniston Star for the last couple of months.
I'll close with some advice nobody asked for.
To anyone reading this who thinks they want to get into journalism, start writing now.
I can guarantee two things: you’ll be confused quickly and you’ll learn how to fix your mistakes even more quickly. Don’t wait until you think you think you’re “ready,” start now.
Plus, it’s cool sometimes. Trust me.
As I put a close on this chapter, I’m glad that my byline will still stay in the community as I cover Jax State football and some Calhoun County sports for The Anniston Star right down the street.
Go Gamecocks. Blow Southerners.