Senior Column | What I’ll remember from four years at The Daily Iowan

Sometimes I still can’t comprehend everything I have experienced as a student journalist.


Contributed photo of Daily Iowan Pregame Editor and senior Robert Read. Read worked at the Daily Iowan for four years.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Staring at a blank document on my laptop screen for most of the night without much of an idea of what to write for this column was when I realized not even four years’ worth of stories for The Daily Iowan could fully prepare me for writing my goodbye.

But that’s a good thing.

I suppose needing time to put everything into words means there are a lot of good memories to sort through. There certainly are plenty of them in this case. Cramming so many moments and thank-you’s into about 1,000 words didn’t seem feasible for a writer who, admittedly, isn’t good about staying under word count (sorry again to all those who had to edit my DI-record 6,000-word story on Tyler Goodson). I did my best, though.

RELATED: From Suwanee to Iowa City: Tyler Goodson’s path to becoming Iowa’s All-Big Ten running back

I’m not sure freshman me would believe much of what I will say in this piece. Sometimes I still can’t comprehend everything I have experienced as a student journalist.

I remember feeling intimidated and scared after I submitted my application from my dorm room in Slater Hall. I thought it had been a mistake to even apply. “Quiet” has often been a word people have described me with. “Shy” is another. I still get that pre-interview anxiety, which I’m sure some colleagues can relate to. And I still get nervous at the thought of other people reading my work.  I wasn’t sure how spending each day interviewing people and covering events was going to go. Pair that with having basically no writing experience before joining the DI, and I had practically no idea what I was getting myself into.

I figured I wouldn’t be any good at this.

My worst fears seemed to have been realized when, as a sophomore, a former Iowa fullback told me he wasn’t going to answer my questions and abruptly walked away from our interview.

At a time like this, I wish I could go back and tell myself that I was about to start what I imagine to be the coolest job a college kid could have.

I’ve served as sports reporter, assistant sports editor, sports editor, pregame editor (twice), summer editor, and sports projects editor for a student publication that has been named Iowa Newspaper of the Year (twice), All Around Best Daily Student Newspaper by the Society of Professional Journalists, and several other distinguished titles in my time here.

There is something about seeing my byline that I love. It has been that way from the start.

I rushed down to the newsstand and to our website to see my first published story (a point-counterpoint against former DI photographer Shivansh Ahuja that I clearly won). I picked up a paper as soon as I could, which is saying something considering I’m not fond of waking up early and my prime writing hours are from about 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Lucky for me, I would have a few hundred more DI bylines from there.

Among other things, I’ve covered three seasons’ worth of Iowa football and men’s basketball games, two Big Ten and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments, Big Ten Championship events in four different sports, the Citrus Bowl, the Drake Relays, and part of an NCAA women’s basketball tournament. I’ve been seemingly everywhere, from Newark to Orlando to Buffalo to Indianapolis (way too many times).

Oh, and who could forget covering sports from my childhood bedroom when the pandemic shut live sports down?

At the first football game I covered at Kinnick Stadium, 11-time National Sports Media Association Iowa Sportswriter of the Year Rick Brown sat to my right. At the first men’s basketball game I covered at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, six-time NSMA winner Mike Hlas sat to my left. No reason to feel intimidated, right? It was a surreal experience being in the press box and on press row with so many of the journalists I grew up reading from my hometown of Marion, Iowa.

I’ve had the pleasure of reporting on Jordan Bohannon leaving his shoes on the court in Ames and hitting a game-winner in the conference tournament. I got to write about Luka Garza becoming a legend, Keegan Murray playing his way into being a lottery pick, and Laulauga Tausaga breaking nearly every Iowa throwing record possible. I was on-hand for two of the wildest Cy-Hawk football games of all time (in 2019 with multiple rain delays and a botched punt return, then for a top-10 matchup in 2021), with College GameDay present both times.

Probably the coolest experience I’ve had while working on a story, though, was spending a couple of days in Georgia with DI Photo Editor Jerod Ringwald and the Goodson family. There are so many other noteworthy moments I’m sure I’m leaving out.

But, in some ways, it’s what never made it into my articles that make for the best stories.

There’s the trip to West Lafayette where Shivansh and I stayed in a hotel seemingly straight out of The Shining. Or when former DI Pregame Editor Pete Ruden would randomly rap while we tried to record a podcast. Can’t leave out the time next year’s Assistant Sports Editor, Chris Werner, must have eaten roughly 18 cookies in the Kinnick Stadium press box, then put a few extras in his backpack for good measure.

I still smile recalling those moments.

I’d love to write about more of them, but I’m running out of words, so I need to thank a few people:

  • Thank you, my supportive family, (particularly my dad, who called me out of excitement when I was on the crowded field at Kinnick Stadium after Iowa beat Penn State in a top-five matchup; and my mom, who always rooted for me to have a good angle to write about like a true parent of a journalist) for never missing a single word that I wrote.
  • Thank you, Pete Ruden and Anna Kayser, for hiring me, promoting me, and teaching me a good chunk of what I know (like how seeing the Peyton Manning statue is the best part of trips to Indy.)
  • Thank you, Austin Hanson, Chloe Peterson, and all current and past members of the DI sports section (and a sometimes sportswriter) who I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Having so many wonderful coworkers in my time at the DI has truly amazed me.
  • Thank you, DI Publisher Jason Brummond, for running a paper that sends ambitious young sports writers around the country to cover games and pursue stories.
  • Thank you, DI Sports Writing Coach and Wise Owl John Bohnenkamp, for the countless edits and tips. The next red Powerade is on me (hopefully that gets me out of laps). And thanks to all other coaches and professional staff at the DI for your invaluable help and support.

I guess, after rambling for several hundred words, the point I’m trying to make is that there is so much to remember fondly from my time at The Daily Iowan. There are so many other people I’d like to thank. There are so many other memories I’d like to share. But this will have to do.

If you can be sure of anything, it’s that there are more stories on the way — just somewhere else.

Thank you, Daily Iowan. We’re done here.