VOTE YES: Life impact from Targum cannot be put in words
I never planned on being in journalism. I never even planned on being involved with my college newspaper. The short version of the story is that I wandered into The Daily Targum with a friend to play video games on the office computers after the paper was done for the day.
What I found there was home. The bustle of people working on a shared daily goal was exhilarating. The quirky personalities were like watching bad television. There were always catch phrases and guest stars, sometimes there were very special episodes. But the underlying passion for serving the community gave it all a purpose. I wound up staying for three years, first as graphics editor, then online editor and finally managing editor.
The experience was like no other. Sixteen years after graduating and leaving the Targum, I've had what I swore would be my last job in media at least six times. I've never been able to pull the trigger on leaving the business, though. My Targum experience planted a seed that continues to grow — journalism matters.
Universities are a special crucible. Everything gets jumbled together and compressed. Because of that, the Targum experience is unique. Nowhere else have I worked in media has the community been so close and so connected. Journalism is a conversation, and it depends on community participation. I've never seen it function as well as I did around the Targum.
The thing with Targum that you don't get anywhere else is that in the span of a few years, you live an entire career. No internship program or training can prepare you in ways that the Targum can. Targum was always about change. By the time you figure out how to do a job, the next caucus is up and it's time to move on. In the real world, it can take that long to approve a plan for a single problem. Targum years are like dog years, to live one is to live seven.
A few years ago, I was involved in launching a new media company. If you've never done that before, it involves an insane amount of work, spread across a comically broad range of areas, split up by an incredibly small group of people. I was able to step up to a lot of tasks well outside of my defined area of expertise because I had dabbled in all of them while at Targum. Its very rare outside of the Targum to get to do so many different things at the same time. Confidence is an important skill, and nothing grows it like being thrown into the blender of The Daily Targum.
But the thing that matters most to me has been the friends. The relationships I built at Targum are different than any other friends I've made since. We have truly meaningful shared adventures as the basis of our camaraderie. When referendum came up while I was at the Targum, editorial page editor Wendy Ginsburg and I hung fliers in the middle of the night. We completely covered every inch of every bus stop on Livingston. It was a great memory, referendum passed and we were able to continue serving the community.
If I think about the depth of an impact that any single decision has had on my life, it was walking into the Targum. My career, my friends, my hobbies, the people I love. It would all be on a different path if Targum hadn't been a part of the narrative.
Vote "yes" for referendum.
Hassan Hodges is a Rutgers College Class of 2000 alumnus. He is a former managing editor of The Daily Targum and the current director of Product Development at NJ Advance Media.
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