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 | I’ll be listening to ‘Country Roads’

Through COVID-19 and the Iowa Caucuses, these four years at the DI have been my most informative.
Photo contributed by Sabine Martin

I heard at a journalism conference this year that some executive editors leave their post feeling bitter and unsatisfied.

Being the executive editor of The Daily Iowan this year didn’t leave me an unhappy, crushed soul. Instead, I am more empathetic, decisive, a stronger journalist, and a better leader after working alongside an amazing team of student journalists.

If it wasn’t for events like the Iowa Caucuses — working through the night until 6 a.m. — or breaking a story that led to award-winning coverage, I wouldn’t be half of the journalist I’ve grown to be in the last four years at the DI.

My time at the DI started freshman year during COVID-19, writing dozens of stories on the higher education beat from my isolated bedroom and connecting through countless Zoom meetings. I didn’t actually step foot into the newsroom until I was being trained as News Editor my sophomore year.

However, COVID-19 didn’t stop the “baptism by fire” experiences that all students have at the DI. From reporting in Washington, D.C.,  and with the PolitiFact Iowa team fact-checking our politicians, to being an interview subject on CNN, the DI opened up countless opportunities for me.

Those opportunities for success have followed us through this year. The DI is the first college newspaper to acquire and save two local weeklies while running our own newspaper. It’s a noble cause and a good opportunity for UI’s journalism students and has rightly attracted national attention as another path to sustain local journalism.

Thanks to all the reporters who I was editor to or the editors who taught me important things, like what a “consent agenda” is (Thanks, Sarah Watson) or that “because of” is better than “due to” (Thanks, Rylee Wilson),  that success wasn’t accomplished alone at the DI.

Publisher Jason Brummond was the voice of reason for me this year while navigating ethical decisions. I went into my role with expectations to have just a professional relationship with Jason, but am leaving with a lifelong mentor.

I also have to thank DI Writing Coach Jen Wagner who, not only has always been my No. 1 advocate but taught me how to chase stories that I care about and cultivate young journalists who have the “fire in their belly.”

Heidi, whose office is just down the hall from Jen and Jason, was my favorite person to talk to in the morning and also taught me how to still find humor in life while on print deadline.

Lyle Mueller taught me how to face confrontation head on and the importance of objectivity and fact checking.

In the newsroom, our DI team of editors played a lot of music and sang along this year, specifically to John Denver’s “Country Roads.” I think that alone explains the tight-knit group of editors, designers, roommates (Thanks Natalie), and other DI journalists we’ve built this year — and the people who I’ll be saying goodbye to.

I am constantly in awe of Marandah’s design skills looking back at our front-page stories and her integrity as a leader. Some of my favorite moments have been covering Caitlin Clark’s success and seeing how Marandah would design each new poster front of her.

Parker, who I think can read my mind, kept us all grounded this year. She graciously took on multiple leadership positions this year without hesitation and keeps calm when all of us are debating an editorial decision.

I also have to thank Ayrton, who is one of the most talented and humble photojournalists I know, and is someone who I hope to work with again post-grad.

And Jami, who I know will absolutely crush the Executive Editor role next year, kept me laughing and helped me become a better advocate for myself.

If I leave with any dissatisfaction, it’s that I won’t get to spend more time with these amazing people.

But, no matter what newsrooms will be in my future, I’ll be listening to “Country Roads.”

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About the Contributor
Sabine Martin
Sabine Martin, Executive Editor
Sabine Martin is the Executive Editor of The Daily Iowan. She is a senior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communications and international studies. Sabine is also earning a minor in French. As a current member PolitiFact Iowa team, Sabine was previously Managing News Editor, News Editor, Summer News Editor, and a News Reporter covering higher education at the DI. Sabine interned for U.S. News and World Report in Washington, D.C. in 2023 as an education reporter and for the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 2022.