Miskimen: Reflecting on my time as editor-in-chief of The Daily Iowan

After four years spent in the DI newsroom, I have seen some of the best journalism in Iowa come from the work of college students.


Shivansh Ahuja

The Daily Iowan editor-in-chief Gage Miskimen poses for a portrait on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Gage Miskimen, Editor in Chief

I’ve spent four long, but also short, years here in Iowa City. I have basically lived in the Daily Iowan newsroom in the Adler Journalism Building, being there every day from when I wake up to when I go back to sleep. When I think about it, I honestly don’t know why I pay rent at an apartment when there are couches at the DI and a shower over at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

So what’s next for me? After four years in the DI newsroom, I have to graduate and leave the UI. This week, I accepted a job offer at The Des Moines Register where I will continue my journalism career. I’m very grateful that I will get to continue to cover news in my home state.

Before I get into anything, I have to thank a list of people who, without, I would’ve gone crazy — and sometimes, I did go crazy, and they were there for me to calm me down and keep me focused.

Of course, I need to thank my managing editors, Katelyn Weisbrod and Marissa Payne. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to be a good editor. They are some of the hardest working and most intelligent people I know.

Katelyn has been with me at the DI for all four years. We grew up in the newsroom together and are the only news reporters from our freshman year that are still here. Plus, she’s one of my best friends. She’s pushed me every step of the way and I’m forever grateful for that. The DI luckily gets to keep her for another semester where she will continue to lead the projects section, in charge of putting out some of the best content not only in a college newspaper but truly some of the best content the state of Iowa has to offer.

And the DI will be in good hands next year with Marissa as the incoming editor. I’ve never seen someone so meticulous in the coverage of state Board of Regents and higher education at the DI. Most reporters think those beats are boring, but not Marissa. She covers a regents meeting like a sports reporter covers a Hawkeye football game. The DI is lucky to have her and Katelyn, and so am I.

I also need to thank the DI coaches — Jenn Wagner, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Lyle Muller, and Charles Munro. I have spent countless hours in Jenn’s office talking about ambitious projects, the daily news, and even my personal life. Jenn always has great feedback and advice, and it’s been so helpful throughout my time here. She truly is the glue that holds the DI together.

And last, but certainly not least, I have to give a huge thank you to DI Publisher Jason Brummond. Without him, I wouldn’t be the editor I am today. The advice and perspectives he has given me have not only helped me grow as a journalist, but he’s helped me grow as a person.

As a first-generation student, I came to college and spent my first few years here without a true mentor that I could turn to. But then Jason was hired as publisher and I was hired later as editor, and I not only gained a mentor that I fully trust; I gained someone who I hope will be a lifelong friend.

We don’t always know where our lives will take us, and we certainly don’t know exactly where the journalism industry is headed. But we shouldn’t fear it. I honestly think we should embrace it. The possibilities of what journalism can be are truly endless. As we dive deeper into this digital era, we are the generation that will need to fully figure it out. Right now, it’s a Wild West to explore and grow, but we will be the ones to solidify it completely. There’s a balance of trying to get “clicks” but also to tell human stories. That’s all journalism is. We are recording the stories of ourselves. Whether you are a reporter, a photographer, a videographer, or a broadcaster, we are all historians and storytellers. And soon, we will be the leaders. We have to be.

And I truly think we can do it. I’ve seen it already right here on this campus. I’ve seen this leadership in person. I’ve watched the digital team at the DI grow and improve in the last two years. They operate smarter and more calculated than ever before and will continue to do so. Whenever our Assistant Digital Editor Aadit Tambe figures out the answer to a problem or creates something new for our website, his face lights right up. I love seeing that amount of passion. There needs to be more Aadit’s in the journalism industry — people full of enthusiasm for what they do.

I’ve watched our Ethics and Politics team cover political events and presidential candidates coming to town more comprehensively than ever before with live tweeting and writing full stories and getting them online faster while not losing an ounce of accuracy, and this is because of leadership from Politics Editor Sarah Watson.

The politics team has also explored the importance of humanizing political stories this year. Reporter and soon-to-be Assistant Politics Editor Julia Shanahan reported the story of a young man who died because he couldn’t afford his insulin, and she touched on the effect it still has on his family and highlighted how common this issue is. That’s what we do as journalists. We shine light on what isn’t being fully talked about.

In April, Marissa wrote and broke the story about how the UI paid almost $4 million to keep Modern Piping off of pharmacy-building construction after spending months waiting for records that she FOIA requested after a source tipped her off.

These are just a couple examples from recent months. There is amazing journalism happening all over the country, but there is amazing journalism happening right here on our campus. I know a lot of people are scared of the future of this industry, but personally, I’ve never been more excited. The jobs aren’t always great, it doesn’t always pay well, the hours can be long and random, but I love journalism. I love telling stories. I love the feeling of being in a newsroom late at night putting together a newspaper, and I’m truly going to miss doing it right here in Iowa City.

Facebook Comments