The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Senior column | A journey worth 1,000 words

A memorable four years holding a camera for The Daily Iowan.
Photo contributed by Ayrton Breckenridge taken by Brian Ray

Starting my freshman year during a pandemic is something I can easily say I never want to relive. As I was trying to figure out a lot of new things alone in college, I was filled with a lot of uncertainty. There was one thing I was certain about: The Daily Iowan.

My one semester of high school journalism confirmed my love for storytelling, pointing me in the direction of the DI once I stepped foot on the University of Iowa campus. I quickly found myself in the visuals section taking pictures and making films, with Zoom-guided peer critiques from the great Katie Goodale and Shivansh Ahuja.

By my second year, I was given a lot of opportunities to grow. As a photojournalist, I got to cover events and sports alongside two award-winning photojournalists and friends Jerod Ringwald and Grace Smith. Both of them also put up with my antics when it came to the Kinnick photo room, which didn’t stop sophomore year either.

That same year I got thrown further into visuals by working on two documentaries. While filming, I was reminded why I chose visual storytelling. Journalism is one of the few jobs where every day you get to learn about other people, the world, and yourself. I learned how to gain the trust of sources, tell powerful stories, and become confident with a camera. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Iowa men’s wrestling program for giving the DI access to tell their story.

The filmmaking process also put me in company with some of the most hard-working DI staffers: Ryan Adams, Jenna Galligan, and Daniel McGregor-Huyer. Those three kept me on my toes in the field, but we couldn’t avoid the perfectly timed lightning strikes or snowstorms while traveling. Light-hearted moments were also found in editing, especially when our editing coach John Richard was able to teach us and crack a memorable joke that was worth writing on a sticky note for future generations.

Early on, I learned that news never sleeps and neither does the DI. I often found myself in the newsroom late at night cracking jokes with Ryan Hansen or flying across the country to cover Iowa sports, which often resulted in missed classes and little sleep. In a crazy way, I’ll miss moments driving back from Tulsa on 45 minutes of sleep, running between terminals to catch a connecting flight, or guiding Matt McGowan through an airport.

The opportunities at the DI continued into my senior year as an assistant producer on a photobook documenting the 2023-24 Iowa women’s basketball season. I’m again grateful to the Iowa women’s basketball team for letting me tell their story with tremendous access.

I also got the opportunity to be Managing Visuals Editor which gave me the opportunity to pass along what I’ve learned to new staffers just like my editors used to do for me. This year was especially special as I got to work alongside a fun group of new staffers while making the photobook, keeping me on my toes and making me smile, one of the many memories I’ll carry with me.

These opportunities wouldn’t be possible without Danny Wilcox Frazier and Jason Brummond. I’d like to thank them for believing in me and dedicating a lot of time and resources into me and the visuals staff making for an amazing experience and memorable four years.

To Cody and Emily, you two are the heart of the visuals staff, thank you for putting up with me, making me laugh, and keeping the section together.

To my fellow top editors, it’s been a journey. Parker, thank you for getting me through a cinema class I don’t think either of us understood and for being the calm at the center of the storm we call the newsroom. Marandah, thank you for anticipating every curveball I throw at you despite how late in the night it gets, and Jami, for introducing me to “The Bear” and laughing at all my jokes.

Sabine, I knew when you were chosen as the executive editor our senior year it was going to be a good year. Even when I challenged you, probably made your blood pressure rise or pulled pranks on you, you never gave up on me. I’m glad I got to call you my executive editor and more importantly my friend.

To my family, you’ve believed in me from the word go and got me to this point today. Despite how crazy it was and how busy I got, everyone, of you supported me along the way. Thank you for always being there for me.

Looking back, the DI is a special place, full of memories, good people, and good opportunities. I’m glad I got to spend four years here. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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About the Contributor
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.