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The Daily Aztec

Senior Farewell: Jamie Ballard

by Jamie Ballard, Managing Editor

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There’s a quote I have hanging on the wall of my office that reads, “You’re miserable, edgy and tired. You’re in the perfect mood for journalism.” It hangs right above my “Chaos Magnet” award given to “Breaking News Ballard”, and next to a postcard that says “Get Lit.”

These are only a few of the personal items in the archaeological site that is the managing editor’s office (Things I found when I moved in last August include a fake engagement ring, saltines from 2012, and evidence of a ghost named Todd), but it’s the quote on the wall that feels most appropriate as the year draws to a close.

We at The Daily Aztec have been miserable and edgy, and we’re pretty much always tired. But we also have produced journalism that matters to people in our community. We’ve adapted in a rapidly changing industry to reflect what our readers want to see, while maintaining our core principles and a high standard of journalism.

As almost anyone will tell you, it’s a difficult time for journalism, but it’s also an important time. As our industry faces near-constant financial turmoil and accusations of “fake news,” it’s more important than ever for us to hold people (including ourselves) accountable.

And though we have been miserable, edgy and tired, we’ve also spent a lot of time laughing and forming friendships here in the basement of the EBA building, whether we were complaining about the eternally broken computers or listening to social media editor Alex Piscatelli claim “I’m a vegan.” (As of writing, she has theoretically been a vegan for two days, a new record).

Previous editors told me the year would fly by, and as we spent late nights sending the paper to press, or as we faced false accusations of libelous reporting, I didn’t believe them. But now as I sit here writing this final piece, listening to playful bickering between editors, I realize how fast it went after all.

This year has been crazy at times, but there’s no one I would have rather weathered the storms or enjoyed the high points with than this year’s staff. To DA fam: you are an incredible, wild, talented and entertaining bunch and I’ll always be grateful I got to lead and be a part of this group.

And now for the rest of the thank yous.

To Emily Charrier-Botts, for having faith in me, giving me my first shot as a student reporter when I was 12, and continuing to be my mentor since then.

To Mike Sager, for many pieces of wisdom and support through the years. You’ve continued to inspire me to keep striving for new things, but more importantly reminded me to appreciate where I am. Keep an eye on my protégé, Will Fritz. He’s going to do great things.

To John Hendrickson, for giving me a shot at Esquire.com and teaching me more in three months than I even thought was possible.

To Seth Combs, for pushing me to be a better reporter, and saving me from post-graduate unemployment. I don’t think you look like a member of The Lumineers.

To Amy Schmitz Weiss, Arthur Santana and Nicole Vargas, thank you for all your guidance and support over these past few years.

To Jay Harn, thank you for being an endless source of newspaper knowledge, and helping keep some of those crazy kids in line.

To Kelly Hillock and Matthew Bain for not only being great DA leaders, but continuing to check in on us via Twitter. You’re now great-grandparents, how does it feel?

To Andrew Dyer and Lilly Glenister for carrying on the DA legacy. I can’t wait to see how you make it your own. Give ‘em hell (I know you will).

To Jacob Sisneros, for being the best editor in chief I could have asked to work with, despite trying to quit the news section when I became editor. In the immortal words of Shea Serrano, “I can’t wait to watch you win.” You’ve become one of my closest friends, and I’ll miss you while you’re in New Mexico but I know you will do great things.

To Mom, Dad and Ellen, for supporting me through this journey. Whether it was showing up to a waterski tournament with coffee, or helping send me to study journalism in Turkey, your unwavering support has meant more than you know.  I hope I’ve made you proud.

I love you all.

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