Sports editor says goodbye to paper that changed his life
Saying goodbye to The Daily Targum is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
I knew the day was coming, but somehow the first week of February still managed to sneak up on me. My term as sports editor of our 146th Editorial Board was nearing its expiration, and in some ways, I probably should have felt relieved.
For two semesters, my life consisted of days when I barely ate and nights when I hardly slept — all the while putting in countless hours designing and editing at 26 Mine Street, reporting on Rutgers football and men's basketball as a full-time student. Yet, all I could think about was how quickly the time had passed — how unforgettable this three-year rollercoaster ride was, while coasting toward the finish line.
I didn't exactly wear my heart on my sleeve in that office. Some days I was quiet and kept to myself. On rare occasions, I might have looked like I was ready to hit someone if I was going through a rough time juggling the many phases of life, even though I loved everyone in that room. The truth is, I never wanted to leave. I started to tear up in my apartment bedroom on Livingston Campus just thinking about the inevitable. Although I would continue writing through the end of men's basketball season in March, I knew it wouldn't be the same. The Targum became a second home for me, and it changed my life forever.
When I first came to Rutgers in 2011, I never really wanted to apply myself. I knew that I loved sports and could best express that passion through writing, but walking into a newsroom full of strangers was something I was willing to procrastinate more than homework. Throughout my youth, I've dealt with lingering social anxiety and stuttering and confidence issues, but I knew I couldn't let those things stop me from pursuing my boyhood dream of becoming a sports journalist.
My parents kept pushing me to get involved, and after struggling to get a previous sports editor to follow up with me as a freshman, I gave it one more shot at the start of my sophomore year. The new head of the sports desk, Tyler Barto, who works now at MLB.com, assigned me the Rutgers golf beat in September 2012. I still remember how excited I was that day to tell my parents, even if it was the bottom of the Targum sports totem pole. Barto's faith in me is something I will always be grateful for.
All I ever wanted was a shot, but what proceeded from that day forward exceeded anything I could ever have imagined.
It wasn't easy at first. Balancing interviewing, writing and deadlines with schoolwork made for a challenging transition. Losing my dog of 13 years in May 2013, just a few months after I first started coming into the office to train for associate sports editor, was excruciating to swallow, making the process even more difficult.
But I stuck with it, because this was my dream. Failure at my job was never an option, and the result was by far the most fulfilling experience I've ever had.
After working my way up to sports editor last year, I had the privilege of leading the desk into Rutgers' inaugural seasons in the Big Ten. Along the way, I went through surreal times traveling with coworkers across the country — from Seattle, to Annapolis, to Columbus, to Lincoln, to East Lansing, to College Park and to Detroit — while covering football. And I got plenty of first-class reporting experience to set the foundation for my future.
But I think what I'm going to cherish most about these past few years is 26 Mine Street. At the Targum, it's not all about you and your accomplishments. It's about contributing to a greater cause. It's about upholding the traditions of the nation's second-oldest college newspaper.
Most of all, it's about being part of a supportive, loving family.
It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from or what you look like. The Targum has a place for everyone. The connections I've made here and the times I had in that office will always have a unique place in my heart — even the embarrassing times I sang karaoke after finally finishing a jam-packed work day in the wee hours of the morning.
Whatever your passion may be, it's crucial you find a place to harness it in college, to truly make the most of your four years. It goes without saying that in 2015, experience means everything in ultimately attaining a successful career.
The Daily Targum gave me the platform to reach for my dreams — to remind myself that anything is possible when someone is willing to dedicate everything they are to them.
I never wanted to say goodbye to this place, but leaving Rutgers, I graduate as an infinitely more confident person because of it.
Greg Johnson is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies with a minor in psychology. He is a former Sports Editor of The Daily Targum.