The South Bend Tribune, spring 2015
This article appeared at the top of A1 on Sunday, May 3, 2015. It distills the major arguments and issues surrounding Proposal 1, a Michigan ballot initiative that would raise the sales tax to raise money for roads (except, it’s way more complicated than that). I spent a few weeks of my part-time internship talking to officials, business owners and politicians in southern Michigan, where the Tribune has readers.
This article started as a preview of the grand reopening of one of the featured companies, but once the business editor and I figured out that co-working is much more widespread than we thought, the story expanded to include the growth of office-sharing in South Bend in general.
This article was the A1 centerpiece on Sunday, March 9, 2015. It’s the tale of young Tyler Brodzinski, who can solve a Rubik’s cube in just under 14 seconds. There are, it turns out, about 10 different types of combination puzzles besides the standard Rubik’s cube that you and I can’t solve.
We were originally looking for a Notre Dame tie-in to South Bend’s 150th-anniversary celebrations, but it turned out that only Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame’s publisher of Catholic materials, had a recognized anniversary. The article instead became a description of life at Notre Dame in 1865. I got to talk to a Notre Dame historian and dig through archives and old publications, my editors got a story, and Ave Maria Press got . . . press, so everyone was happy.
My first real exercise in deadline reporting — media all over the country were jumping on this story, so I had to churn it out quickly. The Tribune wasn’t the first to run the story, but I did get to talk to some of the politicians who were involved in the legislative issues of adoptions.
The Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s College Observer, August 2013-May 2015
On Feb. 27, 2015, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, who was Notre Dame’s president for 35 years, died at the age of 97. He was a living legend at Notre Dame, a leader in the civil rights movement and the reimagining of Catholic education in the 20th century. He held several U.S. governmental and papal appointments and wrote many books. The Observer confirmed his passing at about midnight on the night he died and spent the rest of the weekend putting together two special issues on his life and legacy. I contributed writing, photography and layout help. This is one of the articles I wrote.
Funny enough, this description is almost as long as the article linked above. Anyway. We’d been in the Observer office for nearly 24 hours straight, working on our 28-page special issue on the recently-deceased university president Fr. Theodore Hesburgh. I’d reached a point where I couldn’t be helpful there, so I grabbed my camera and walked around campus, taking pictures of Hesburgh-related things. Near the library, I came across three guys smoking cigars underneath a statue of Fr. Ted. I interviewed them (“I said, ‘let’s go smoke one for Hes'”) and went on my way. Two days (and not a whole lot of sleep) later, I gathered all the pictures and quotes I could find about Fr. Ted’s endearing but probably unhealthy and definitely smelly habit. Amid the stories of human rights activism and Catholic educational leadership, we filled a half-page gap with a lighthearted insight into the man’s personal life. It’s a point of pride for me that the outgoing editorial board parodied the story in the Observer’s April Fool’s issue, with an article about students using Fr. Ted’s death as an excuse for cigar-smoking and other debauchery.
Since Notre Dame was far removed from the events in Ferguson in November 2014, when a jury failed to indict Darren Wilson on charges of murdering 18-year-old Michael Brown in August, tensions were perhaps muted. The issue was still, however, quite controversial. Some loudly protested against systemic racism and police brutality; some quietly wondered whether the non-indictment was really a result of racism; some posted outright racist comments on the anonymous app YikYak. Several African-American and other multicultural student groups organized a week of demonstrations, which I followed.
“Oh, you’re here from the Observer? Great! Want to ride on a fire truck to today’s fire drills?” Um, yes.
“I’ve already used like half my print quota,” was the mantra two weeks into fall semester 2014, when Notre Dame’s tech office changed how it measured student printing – and decreased the amount students could print in the process.
Notre Dame ROTC’s annual display happened in the middle of campus in spring 2014, reverting to the location it used in the 1950s. This was my first encounter with University archives, though we did not end up using the photos they gave us. The best part of this story happened three weeks after the fact, when I received an email from the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, chastising me for not questioning the military-industrial-educational complex in my article. To which I reply: fair.
This story, about the history of Notre Dame’s only two tower buildings, was written for my Fundamentals of Journalism class in fall 2014. To do the story, I interviewed a former University president (who was surprised that the only thing I wanted to ask him about was the former dorms – but hey, I just wanted to meet the former president), talked to drunken family friends at a tailgate, and dug through University archives.
With this story for the introductory journalism class, I attempted a more feature-y take for a professor who emphasized a hard-news approach for us beginners. It worked.
The summer before I went to college I wrote a few articles for the Highlander, a neighborhood monthly which has since (sadly) folded. This story is about a historic home that may have been the birthplace of “Happy Birthday to You,” and how it has handled the passage of time and the advent of the Internet.