Aleksander Chan

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

I didn’t deserve to work at the Texan.  

As a junior with no credentials, Aleksander Chan — the managing editor in the fall of 2012 — bought me a great sandwich, offered me a job and lied to me. 

He told me I could do the Life & Arts editor job in 10 hours per week. He told me that I would feel overwhelmed, and that every day I would feel like I had failed, but that it was worth it. 

And I did feel like that for the 45 hours a week I ended up spending in our poorly lit basement office. 

I struggled to learn the language of the paper — bob, boa, maestro, strip, dom — and I was terrified. Every day the paper printed seemed like a miracle. 

But The Daily Texan is a place to forget to add a word in a headline, spell someone’s name wrong and be given a job you probably aren’t qualified for. It is a place to fail and succeed with people who care about you and force you to be better. 

The Texan taught me more than vocabulary, AP style and how to read Google Analytics. In this overcrowded basement, I learned to be myself. 

At the Life & Arts desk I learned to be brave. I would have walked out after the first five days of print if it hadn’t been for Sarah-Grace Sweeney and her constant support, editing prowess and undying love. 

But I stayed instead. I learned to report, craft, edit and teach in the Texan office. I learned to do things that were difficult every day, and to make decisions I didn’t like.

Watching Audrey White, I learned what it means to lead a team and care deeply about other people. Amber Genuske taught me what it means to be Life & Arts royalty.

Without Susannah Jacob and Laura Wright I never could have understood how important what we do in the basement can be. 

Jack taught me to be kind. Elisabeth taught me to fight for what I believe in. Shabab taught me to listen more than I speak, and to care about my staff more than I care about myself. 

I know that any legacy I leave behind at the Texan won’t be an increase in traffic, or that haunted South by Southwest insert. So to Hannah Smothers: Take the crown. You deserve it. You are already one of my favorite writers to read. To Hayley, you amaze me and are a tech god. To Fred Tally-Foos, you will be great at whatever you decide to do. Don’t leave this place until you have to.  

To Michael Brick, thank you. You have helped me more than you know. 

I didn’t deserve to be taught or loved as much as this place taught and loved me. But The Texan — whatever its future may be — deserves everything: all of the time, and energy, and tears and love we can give.

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The Texas Associated Press Managing Editors named The Daily Texan “College Paper of the Year” for the third year in a row this past weekend.

Aleksander Chan, former managing editor of The Daily Texan and recent UT journalism alumnus, attributed the Texan’s success partially to the enterprise department. The enterprise department — led by Audrey White, another former managing editor and a Plan II Honors senior — wrote in-depth and investigative stories much longer than the average report.

“It set us apart from the other Texas college newspapers,” Chan said. “We devoted the energy, time and resources into some in-depth reporting that is really hard to do in a daily college newspaper.”

This included in-depth reporting on Fisher v. Texas, a Supreme Court case that will decide whether UT’s admission policy can continue taking race into consideration. The Daily Texan sent journalism and sociology junior Andrew Messamore to Washington to cover the oral arguments.

Chan also attributed the Texan’s success to an improved digital presence. While managing editor, Chan restructured the Texan’s web department and created the digital director position, which has been filled by public relations sophomore Hayley Fick.

“[Fick] was able to work a position whose primary goal was to make the website experience as great as the daily print experience, if not better,” Chan said. “It’s important to have that kind of position going forward as the Texan tries to move to a more digital-first mentality.”

In Tuesday’s review of the new Taylor Swift album, Aleksander Chan asks, “Was there a better couplet in 2010 than ‘you made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter’ from the the single ‘Mine’?” I think, in fact, there was. I’d like to nominate this gem from Slough Feg’s song “Heavyworlder,” off of 2010’s album The Animal Spirits: “I wanted to breathe, the air is like lead/My love for this world is turning to dread.”

— Paul Hay, Classics graduate student from Youngstown, Ohio