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 | Creativity and the promise of a shrug

It only takes one person to half-believe in you.
Photo contributed by Avi Lapchick

Before I started working at The Daily Iowan, I could barely get out of bed most days. This job gave me an exciting life that was never quiet.

When I joined the team in January 2023, I was a newbie photojournalist, hired on a whim for God knows what former visuals editor Matt Sindt saw in me (thanks, Matt). I had picked up a camera, sure, but I had never had the pleasure of shakily manhandling an expensive piece of equipment, still of the mindset that ISO meant “in search of.”

I was definitely in search of something, some creative outlet, and I’d hoped I would find it using autofocus.

After a few weeks of learning my way around the job, I decided to pitch an amendment to an existing visual staple in our bi-weekly print editions, the weekly photo feature.

It was a charming concept: a spot in print dedicated to capturing the benign everyday-ities of downtown Iowa City. However, in execution, it had grown stale with repetitive imagery.

Shots of someone frosting the cupcakes at the local bakery became less sweet; a well-timed picture of a hawk soaring over the capitol building was creative, but only the first time; and, as it got colder, stills of some frosted-over puke from Saturday night’s escapades were cool but — well, they’re always cool. Ultimately, the staple needed a refresher.

In its place, I proposed a comic strip. The idea was met with a flat-out “no” from one editor, but a shrug from another (thanks, Matt). So, I kept pushing.

By the end of the semester, my persistence paid off I was not only accepted as the arts editor but I also had the green light for my comic strip.

In August 2023, my first comic panel debuted. It was rough, lopsided, and barely legible, but it was met with two thumbs up from the top editors and my dear friends Parker Jones, Marandah Mangra-Dutcher, Sabine Martin, and Jami Martin-Trainor, whose incredible support and leadership have taught me to become not only a better journalist but a better leader myself.

In this position, I’ve learned that an editor is more than the red pen on a misused semicolon; they are the ones who push you to become the most creative version of yourself. (Did I use it right?)

So, though they were never my “editors per se, I’d like to thank each reporter I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I hope you all keep writing, learning, and growing. Few things are more valuable in this life than getting to know the people in your community.

With that, I’d also like to thank every source that has ever contributed to one of my stories. In what other profession could you meet a stranger, and 30 minutes later, cry with them?

Lastly, thank you to my parents, who always offered to write stories for me when I’d tell them I was stressed (sorry, Mom, that’s not how it works), and to my best friend and roommate, Ashlyn, a talented writer herself, for lending an ear to nearly all of my first drafts.

Though I only had the privilege of working at the DI for my last year of college, I have all my mentors to thank for the writer — and person — I am now.

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About the Contributor
Avi Lapchick
Avi Lapchick, Arts Editor
Avi Lapchick is an arts editor at The Daily Iowan. A fourth-year student studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa, she previously held the positions of staff photojournalist, summer arts editor, and assistant arts editor at the DI. She is happiest when she is writing or painting.