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 | Growing out of the quiet

Over four years, The Daily Iowan gave me my voice.
Photo contributed by Parker Jones

Before coming to college, I was too scared to make a phone call to my dentist, let alone interview a stranger in person. Now, I get to help lead one of the most impressive student publications in the nation.

The Daily Iowan gave me the power to put myself out there.

Despite now spending countless hours each week reading and editing articles for the DI, I didn’t even set foot in the newsroom until my second year with the paper. I started as an arts reporter from a stuffy dorm room in Stanley Hall, attending pitch meetings over Zoom and doing nearly all my interviews over the phone or — my editor forbid — via email.

I attended no plays, covered no concerts, and never met a single coworker that first year. Still, the COVID-19 era was like journalism with training wheels; the perfect slow introduction for a highly anxious freshman with minimal writing experience.

In the years since 2020, I’ve created a massive collection of published work that I am endlessly proud of. I’ve interviewed amazing artists, high-level film producers, screenwriters, authors, musicians, and inspiring community leaders. Being able to tell their incredible stories has been an honor.

I learned how to become a good journalist in class, but I don’t think I realized I was actively doing it while working at the DI. Throughout friendship drama, breakups, roommate struggles, family crises, and even studying abroad in Ireland, the DI has been a constant in my life. It has kept me busy, out of trouble, and employed.

More than that, though, the DI has given me confidence. It taught me how to use my voice: to ask questions, to be a little nosy, to get the scoop, and, most importantly, not to be afraid of engaging with people. I have always been a quiet person, but without the DI, I’d still be struggling to speak up.

Of course, I couldn’t have done it alone. I want to thank Executive Editor Sabine Martin for helping me realize I had what it takes to be a compassionate leader this year: I truly learned from the best. I also want to thank Managing Visuals Editor Ayrton Breckenridge for working himself to the bone and keeping our newsroom spirits high with dry humor, even on minimal hours of sleep.

I also want to thank fellow Managing Editors Marandah Mangra-Dutcher and Jami Martin-Trainor, who both continue to inspire me with their dedication to achieving greatness. I know they will lead this paper to the most incredible places next year, and I can’t wait to watch them succeed.

Finally, I want to thank writing coach Jen Wagner, who has vouched for me more times than I can count. Her advice allowed me to flourish as a reporter and work my way up to editor; I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without her help.

With so many collaborative nights together in the newsroom, it wasn’t hard to befriend these wonderful talented people; no matter how much my social anxiety tried to stop me. Introverts joke all the time about being adopted by extroverts. I’ll do you one better: be adopted by journalists.

I will remember what I’ve learned at the DI for the rest of my life, but I’ll especially get to use my community knowledge in my upcoming position as a reporter and project manager for the Corridor Business Journal after graduation.

My time with the DI, and college as a whole, has completely changed me as a person. To everyone who encouraged me along the way, thank you.

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About the Contributor
Parker Jones
Parker Jones, Managing Editor
Parker Jones is the Managing Editor at The Daily Iowan. She is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema with a minor in art. Previously, she was an arts editor, an arts reporter, and a digital producer for the DI.