Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Thank you for everything

(Mark Chiarelli)
(Mark Chiarelli)

I blew the first real story assigned to me at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

Just weeks into my time at the University of Massachusetts, the Collegian’s sports staff placed me on the tennis beat. It’s customary for beat writers to attend home games and I, not wanting to disappoint, said I’d cover the team’s first home match of the spring. But the match wasn’t on campus – the team played matches indoors at Hampshire College in the spring – and I didn’t have a car.

Not a problem, I said. I’ll just take a bus. But there was one small issue.

I’d never taken a bus before.

On the day of the match I packed my bag, put on my finest khakis pants, triple-checked the schedule and departed from my dorm in Northeast in search of the bus stop located next to something called a Haigis Mall. I left with plenty of time, finally found the bus stop, and waited, confident I’d figure it out first try.

Five minutes passed. Then 10, then 15. I checked my phone again, re-examining the bus schedule. I was now late, and still there was no bus in sight. Twenty minutes later, the wind suddenly felt brisker and my patience shorter. Sweat pooled under my armpits. “How could I get this wrong?” I kept asking myself.

After a half hour of waiting for a bus that wasn’t coming, I gave up and trudged home with a tennis ball-sized pit growing in my stomach, convinced I was a failure.

My sports writing career was off to a rousing start.

Luckily for me, an editor in the sports staff gave me a second chance. I called the coach, salvaged a story and some of my confidence, and showed back up to the office the following week, intent on proving myself.

I guess it worked. I stuck around, and some three years later, I was elected Editor in Chief of the entire paper. Go figure.

I’ve sat down several times to write this column and struggled to find the right way to capture my Collegian experience. Each time I end up reverting back to the same two words: Thank you.

This place has done so much for me. Where else could I, within the span of four years, cover everything from the NCAA tournament to court trials? Is there a class that teaches students how to write someone’s obituary, or to know exactly what to do when news breaks? Did I miss Night Editing 400, where we all learn how to pick through lines of copy every night, typically into the early hours of the morning?

I sat in front of my colleagues a year ago and promised them I’d demand excellence from them every day. They responded by electing me to this position, and not a day goes by where I’m not honored to serve such a beloved institution. The job is not without its pressures or challenges, but that’s exactly how it should be.

Working here is hard. It is time consuming. It will, on some days, feel like it’s ruining your life. But there is a beauty to all of it and, when thrown together, it’s the perfect college experience.

The Collegian forced me to attend press conferences and ask questions in front of dozens of people. It presented long nights, heated newsroom arguments and ethical quandaries. It provided me with just enough skills to lead this institution. It taught me how to report and how to love.

It introduced me to Matt Vautour, a phenomenal friend, reporter, mentor and Collegian alum. My late night road trip discussions with Matt about journalism on the way back from trips to cover games are some of the best experiences I’ve ever had. No one has helped me more, nor been more impactful.

The Collegian allowed me to work alongside some of the best reporters I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing quite like watching Aviva Luttrell chase a story, or Steve Hewitt masterfully report on games.

Everyone has asked me if I’ll miss the Collegian. Of course I’ll miss it. How could I not? But the Collegian – and everything it’s taught me – is who I am. It’s long hours and lasting relationships. It’s the ability to tell stories and report the news. It gave me a purpose. It will always be with me.

I’m forever indebted to the Collegian for helping mold the last four years of my life. It gave me a chance and didn’t give up on me. It is the singular thread weaving in and out of my college career, and I’m proud to say I saw it through to the end. I was lucky enough to meet so many amazing people along the way.

There’s a mantra in our office that we all must leave the Collegian in a better place than when we found it. And while I can only hope I did, I can confidently say I’ll leave the Collegian in a much better place than when it found me.

Thank you to everyone, and everything, that made this such a special ride.

Mark Chiarelli was the Collegian editor in chief. He can be reached at [email protected].

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    TracyApr 27, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Love you Mark! You got em good and will continue gettin’ em good!