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No comebacks

Zach Thomas
Arizona Daily Wildcat
December 9, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Zach Thomas

Push the envelope. Piss people off. Open some eyes.

If there are any thoughts that still linger as I conclude nearly seven months as Wildcat chief, those would be the sum.

Your profession and moral stances are irrelevant.

Your birthplace and heritage likewise.

You're just blowing smoke if you can't ethically push your own envelope to inform, entertain or educate. After you push your own, then try pushing someone else's. That's what I've tried to do at the Wildcat.

That's a bit trite, but true nonetheless. And through pushing oneself - be it through a 12-hour-a-day editorial lifestyle or not - one tends to learn some things.

Like how burnout can stealthily creep up and bite you in the ass.

Like how to wade knee deep in verbal shit to get a word in edgewise.

Like what a bummer self-imposed solitude in a crowd can be.

Sounds great, eh?

It is.

Though I may not often say it, I'm proud - proud not always of the product itself but of watching people learn and grow both as journalists and as individuals.

To see cubbies gather their WWWWWHs into a discernible mass for the first time.

To bear witness as designers realize how not to stripe a page.

To watch as student reporters, editors and photographers come together for a funky package.

I'll miss kicking my feet on the desk and leaning back in the orange chair to watch as these things happen. Moreover, I'll miss participating in the process myself. Thought percolation and education are weird creatures, but they inevitably manifest themselves in a better end result. A change for the better... no matter how slight.

Yet just as my world has for some time been a college newspaper, such sentiments easily snowball beyond.

We all are involved with an institution whose mission, no matter how contorted it often appears, is to expose its participants to a microcosm of real life. It's rarely completely accurate, but that's what universities represent at heart: a training ground.

My microcosm has taught me how interpersonal bullshit can get in the way. Early morning conversations about journalistic ethics have taught me why you shouldn't address serious topics when you've been awake for 14 hours. Listening to someone do his or her best in explaining why alcohol is not prevalent on campus makes me reach for a fifth of bourbon. All of this is just par for the course. And everyone has a different course.

As I step down from my soapbox, it is readily apparent that half of success is being able to figure out what not to do. Given what I now know, I would have done many things differently. Much to my own chagrin though, existence is often a one-shot ballgame. Although tough for me to swallow, this time around there are no comebacks.

Zach Thomas is editor in chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat and can be reached via e-mail at