Senior Column | Thank you, Daily Iowan

This is a ‘see you later,’ not a ‘goodbye.’


Kate Heston

Photo by Kate Heston.

Alexandra Skores, Managing Editor

Ever since I was little, I wanted to tell a story.

My mom will laugh when she reads this, but when I was in elementary school, I wrote my first book, titled, “Where are the puppies?” It was a chapter book written in a wide-ruled spiral notebook, filled with spelling and grammar errors. My mom probably has it somewhere in a bin in our basement, but she always brings it up when I talk about my writing. I always knew this was what I wanted to do.

As the first of my siblings that went to college, I knew it was something important that I had to do as a role model for both of them. My parents have always worked hard to make sure I had everything I could ever need to achieve my dreams. I was always told to put the important information at the top of the story. So, mom and dad, thank you.

I stepped onto the University of Iowa campus in fall 2017 wide-eyed and ready to explore.

When I got a call from my then-news editor that I would start a job at the DI as a news reporter, I was ecstatic. Little did I know how that one call would change my college experience.

Over the last three years, I’ve gotten to write some of the most influential stories of my life, teach the brightest reporters I could have ever had the privilege of mentoring, and grew up to be the woman I am today. The DI wasn’t just a newsroom. It was a second home.

I had one of the toughest conversations with a mother that had lost her child. My story on children’s mental health influenced an Iowa emergency room doctor to raise money for #ForALLTheKids. I was able to cover presidential hopeful Andrew Yang on the day of the Iowa caucuses, and later covered former President Donald Trump, two days before the 2020 election.

And this year, a group of UI students came to me to share a story after an email thread had surfaced questioning diversity, equity, and inclusion training in their college. I am grateful to these students for trusting me with such an important story that needed to be brought to light.

But for me, my favorite part of my DI experience happened in my final year. After months of conversations, Executive Editor Sarah Watson and I put our heads together to create initiatives that promote inclusivity and diversity in our newsroom. What was born was my absolute favorite section in the DI (sorry news, I still love you though), Amplify. The section has given writers in our staff the opportunity to showcase their identities and others. I am proud to see the section continue to develop next year, under the leadership of Opinions Editor Hannah Pinski, with beautiful designs by the talented Design Editor Kate Doolittle, and the team next year. You all have taught me so much, and I am forever grateful.

I have so many people to thank for these last three years.

To Katie Ann McCarver, I am grateful to have someone in my life that balances me so well and is always looking out for me — let alone, someone that would let me into such important parts of her faith and her world. There was no one I would have rather endured managing news content in a pandemic with, or talking it out within editing bays when the job got tough. She was there through every rejection, interview, and offer I received. And when she placed third in the Hearst Journalism Awards for a story so close to her heart, I was ecstatic. Katie Ann, I will always be your number-one fan. I didn’t just get a forever co-editor. I got a forever friend.

And to mine and Katie Ann’s 2019-20 group of news reporters, we are so proud of you. You all have grown to be wonderful reporters, editors, and people. You may think that we taught you, but you taught us so much more. I have not a doubt in my mind that you all will go on to do great things. Take care of the newsroom, it’s in your hands now.

To my partner in scoops, the Batman to my Robin, Sarah Watson — I would not be half the leader I am today without learning from you. Your courage, perseverance, and brevity are remarkable. Our leadership complements itself like no other, and I am grateful for you and your friendship. I will forever be down for a drink at Joe’s rooftop — say the word, and I am there. You are going to kick major ass in the Quad Cities.

Politics Editor Julia Shanahan, I have always envied your “winner” attitude. I like to believe that is a former competitive cheerleader thing, and I have it too sometimes. Go out and win more — and continue to ask the tough questions.

To the coaches at the DI, especially Jason Brummond and Jenn Wagner, thank you for a great three years. I wouldn’t have been able to make my post-grad decisions without the 10 p.m. phone calls and frantic emails about what to do. I have appreciated the mentorship and constant support. I would not be the journalist I am without the support I have.

Finally, if you were one of the folks that took time to answer an email or pick up a phone call — thank you. I owe the world to the people that have gotten me to where I am today. To every person that let me tell their story, I am grateful.

Big dream alert: One day, I will run a newsroom that focuses on amplifying underrepresented voices and incorporates those stories across all sections. For now, I am going to keep working to do just that in my own newsrooms, wherever that happens to be. For the summer after graduation, I have accepted an internship reporting on The Dallas Morning News’ business team. This Chicago girl is ready for a new, big city, filled with stories to tell.

And it is all thanks to The Daily Iowan.

In the words of dear Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.