EDITORIAL: My year as Editor-in-Chief of The Vista

If you had asked me last year if I saw myself being editor-in-chief of a newspaper, I would’ve said you were crazy. At that time, I was “just a photographer.” 

Last August, it was brought to my attention that I was somehow recommended to apply for the position. I was shocked and confused. I didn’t feel like I had the credentials or ability to qualify for such an important position. I applied, but in the back of my mind I kept questioning myself, thinking I was making a mistake. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My first semester as editor-in-chief was challenging to say the least. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was still figuring out my role and how to become the best leader for my staff. Sometimes, it was very overwhelming, and I almost threw in the towel a couple of times. 

It took a little longer, but I finally began getting the hang of things. We finally found our routine and our newspaper took off. Our staff grew, our stories’ significance increased with each issue, and our hard work began paying off. 

Earlier this month, The Vista brought home five awards from the 2022 Oklahoma Collegiate Media Awards, two of them being first place finishes. Manuela Soldi, our senior photographer and one of the first place recipients from the OCMA’s, is heading to the Tulsa World this summer as their 2022 photography intern. We began receiving feedback and praise from some very important people and readers, reminding us that we were doing the right work.

However, with each triumph and happy moment we have had, I am humbly reminded that life consists of heartache as well; the biggest being the sudden and unexpected loss of our sports editor, Brandon Dale. 

When I took this job, I never thought that losing a staff member would be something I’d have to experience. It’s a weird feeling with few words to describe. Trying to balance my reaction and feelings as both EIC and a friend… I didn’t realize what it meant to be a true leader until I did. 

Brandon was a loyal member of our team and we miss him dearly. The Vista will keep his memory alive through the work it will continue to seek and write. 

This experience has been one that has taught me both great and hard lessons that I will take with me as I finish my college career this fall. I’ve learned so much from so many great people that I never would’ve met had I not been in this position. I never would’ve reached this point without thanking some very important people: 

First and foremost, Joe Hight: You believed in me to take on this position before anyone else. Your mentorship, advice, and friendship was the motivation that kept me going during the rough days. I never believed myself to be a leader, but through this experience, I can’t see myself being anything else. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me.

Mark Zimmerman: Mark, you listened to me when I felt like no one else was. You encouraged me to keep going when I was ready to throw in the towel. Thank you for your continuous support, encouragement, and for teaching me the importance of photojournalism. I couldn’t have made it this far without you. 

George Lang: George, I could write a novel… You came into the adviser position with an open mind, so many creative ideas, and pushed all of us to be our very best. Your constant positivity and uplifting talks are ones that I will remember most of all. You believed in me, all of us, when we didn’t feel like it. You have done so much for all of us and I cannot thank you enough for everything. I can’t wait to see what The Vista continues to deliver under your guidance.

Cynthia Faulkner: Cynthia, thank you for getting me ready in the very beginning for this position. I was scared and overwhelmed, but you showed me the foundation of getting started, and the rest just followed. I appreciate the time you took to train me for this position.

Brad Keim and Amber Loomis: Brad and Amber, you two were the friends I didn’t know I needed. Brad, please keep sharing your headline ideas, The Vista might use one of them one day… maybe. Amber, thank you for listening to me and for making me laugh every Monday.

To The Vista staff, thank you for believing in me to lead us on this incredible journey this past year. I know it took a few tries, but we finally got our routine and we published great issues this semester. None of our success would’ve been possible without every single one of you. You are among the most talented people I know. You all made me a better leader. I couldn’t be more proud of you and couldn’t have asked for a better team. I cannot wait to see you continue the great work you’ve done. Thank you for making this year the best. 

To all of my friends in UCentral, thank you for making a newcomer feel right at home within the newsroom and welcoming me with open arms. You are some of the most talented people I know, and it’s been an honor to listen, learn, and experience all of the hard work that not many others see or understand. I’m excited to see what you all continue to do.

This is the last time my words and photographs will ever be published in this small, but very important newspaper. A newspaper that has changed my life for the better. It’s a very bittersweet ending to this volume of The Vista, but I know this publication is going to continue, through the good and bad, and serve its purpose: telling the truth, informing our audience, and holding accountability where it lies.  

It’s been the absolute honor of my college career serving as The Vista’s editor-in-chief. I am nothing but grateful for the opportunity. 

Madalyn Nix

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