Marquette Wire

PLOEN: Student media pushes you to your limits, but for the better

Brendan+%28right%29+smiles+with+John+Steppe+and+Andrew+Goldstein+after+the+special+edition+of+the+Marquette-Wisconsin+rivalry+in+December.
Brendan (right) smiles with John Steppe and Andrew Goldstein after the special edition of the Marquette-Wisconsin rivalry in December.

Brendan (right) smiles with John Steppe and Andrew Goldstein after the special edition of the Marquette-Wisconsin rivalry in December.

Photo by Aly Prouty

Photo by Aly Prouty

Brendan (right) smiles with John Steppe and Andrew Goldstein after the special edition of the Marquette-Wisconsin rivalry in December.

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Reporter John Hand, sports content executive Andrew Goldstein and I barged into the second floor Wire executive office at Johnston Hall, uninvited and unannounced one day in early December. Becca Carballo, the Tribune’s managing editor, was sitting at her desk working on a different story and spun around to see three wild-eyed “sporty peoples” walk in.

“Becca, I’d like to run a middle finger in the paper,” Goldstein said.

Carballo’s facial expression was a mix between confusion, bewilderment and mostly curiosity.

“You want to do what?” Carballo asked incredulously.

“Yep. We want to run a photo of a middle finger in the paper,” I chimed in.

Carballo’s face turned from confused to intrigued.

“Tell me more,” she said.

Those three words were all we needed. We finished the pitch, and Carballo approved it. To this day, Carballo said it was the most memorable pitch she’s ever heard.

I bring this memory up in my senior column because of all the work that went into the story before the pitch ever happened. Hand, Brian Boyle and I pushed ourselves to the limit with countless, largely unseen hours of work put into it. With the help and encouragement of Goldstein and fellow assistant sports editor John Steppe to keep pressing on, the story came together against all odds.

By the time we published “One Finger Salute,” we had interviewed nine sources, gathered 30-plus pages of notes and full interview transcriptions and changed our opening lede at least four times. But the story was so worth it.

While the feature was praised at the time of its release and even became an award-winning piece later on, the accolades did not matter. At the end of the day, we pushed each other for the simplest of reasons: to tell a good story.

And when you want to tell a good story, there’s no shortage of people who are willing to chip in at a place as special as Johnston Hall. That’s the beauty of student media: everybody comes together and makes a story so much more authentic. In my two years on staff, I have grown as a person and truly embraced what it entails to be a multimedia journalist because everyone around me is striving for excellence in everything they do on a variety of platforms — MUTV, Marquette Radio, the Journal and the Tribune.

There is no way that I could have gotten through basketball season, let alone putting together the paper every Monday night, without Goldstein and Steppe. Their wit, dedication and expertise is unmatched. Additionally, I am so grateful for Jack Goods and Grant Becker for teaching me the ropes last year and giving me an opportunity.

In fact, my first beat, cross country and track and field, remains one of my favorite teams I’ve ever covered because of the diversity of stories I could tell. That only came after I learned how to make a beat truly my own.

Executive director Patrick Thomas has taken the organization to unprecedented heights. Meanwhile, Carballo has been the rock that held the Tribune together week in and week out, always willing to go above and beyond to make every story come to life (including the many adventures that came with editing my ledes). The entire executive board has helped make this organization truly one of the best student media organizations in the country.

The senior class on the Wire constantly encouraged me to look beyond student media and helped push me to greater heights, including taking on an additional part-time job and subsequent internship at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. They have given brilliant insight on more than just story ideas, but also life. They’ve truly become a family to me.

Each of the five teams I covered were a joy to write about every week. I cannot give enough thanks to the sports information directors I’ve worked with for always helping our staff in a tight pinch. As a desk, we pushed ourselves to find the most compelling stories no matter the sport or athlete, and the athletic department gave us the access to tell stories with respect and high quality.

I have no doubt that the sports desk and the Marquette Wire will succeed next year and far into the future because everyone constantly pushes each other to be better. It’s how this organization won 75 awards this year, and I hope there will be even more awards next year.

The reason I went into journalism was for the love of a good story. I get just as much joy from writing as I do interviewing and finding out other people’s stories. It’s part of what makes journalism exhilarating.

I don’t know what my next chapter will be or where this industry will take me, but I do know one thing: the lessons that I got from the Marquette Wire will be with me wherever I go, and as a result, I am always willing to push myself to tell good stories. As Carballo said to Hand, Goldstein and I back in early December:

“Tell me more.”

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