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Thursday, July 24, 2014 | Last updated: 8:26am

Honored alumni reminisce on Daily Wildcat



Current and former UA students are coming together this Saturday to honor this year’s inductees into the Wildcat Alumni Hall of Fame.

The Wildcat Alumni Hall of Fame was created in 2001 to acknowledge the achievements of Daily Wildcat alums. The inductees come from all desks of the Daily Wildcat and have been out of college for at least 10 years.

Eleven former staff members are being inducted this year. Additionally, nine alumni have been honored with the Wildcat Young Alumni Award this year. In 2008, the Wildcat Young Alumni Award was created to recognize former staff members making great strides in their professional fields who have been out of college for less than 10 years.

The Daily Wildcat caught up with seven Hall of Fame and Young Alumni Award winners to see what the Wildcat experience was like when they were college students.

Lance Madden, ad operations associate with Time Inc, Sports Illustrated, Golf
worked for eight semesters and two summers as sports reporter, sports editor, editor-in-chief

What was the newsroom like when you worked at the Daily Wildcat?
The newsroom was fun. It was a place where a lot of us spent a lot of time. Of course we’d spend our working time there, but we would also spend time in between classes, before or after classes. I think of it as our frat. It was our clubhouse. It was just very comfortable. … I’ve made a lot of friends there, and so it was just a fun place to be. It was also a better learning environment than any other class that I took. You spend a lot of time working on the newspaper, and that’s where I learned a lot about journalism.

John D’Anna, page one editor at the Arizona Republic
worked two years as night editor, news editor, editor-in-chief

What was the newsroom like when you worked at the Daily Wildcat?
Dingy. It had this old, gross carpet and a bunch of cast-off furniture, and it was down in the basement of the Student Union [Memorial Center] building, and it was just not a very inviting atmosphere. But at least it was home.

Arek Sarkissian, government reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat
worked two years as cops reporter, editor, editor-in-chief

What’s one of your favorite memories from your time at the Wildcat?
I was a big fan of Mark Woodhams. I don’t know why, but he and I always got along and I loved talking with him about news. And probably just chasing stories. I used to skip class all the time to chase stories. My philosophy was: “Why am I going to go to journalism class if I can just do it here and get paid for it?” I used to camp outside offices, and when people wouldn’t answer questions, any chance I could get I’d run over to the office and I’d sit there and camp out until finally someone would open their door. Stuff like that was fun, and I still do it to this day.

Tim Fuller, freelance photographer
worked two years as photographer and photo editor

What did you learn at the Daily Wildcat that stuck with you?
What … stuck with me is how you make a two-dimensional photographic image that communicates ideas. How you communicate visually — that was something I didn’t know how to do before. I knew how to take pictures before, I knew how to make a docket of images before, but I didn’t know how to communicate visually. And just as important on demand.
When I used to make photographs that I really liked … in those days, you’d take a photograph and you’d go, “Eh, that’s not quite what I’m thinking. Maybe if I own it.” You take another, then all of a sudden, you’d really get what your idea is that you’re trying to do and you’d work on it, which is really different than someone saying, “OK, you go there, and in two hours come back, and I need the photograph to be beautiful and communicate.”

Christopher Oldre, senior vice president for cable and broadcast sales for Disney
worked 2 ½ years as account executive

What did you learn at the Daily Wildcat that stuck with you?
Really, it’s about accountability, perseverance, the ability to persuade and sell. Ultimately, what I really learned was responsibility and ownership and taking on a bigger leadership role as a young person trying to be a businessman.

Kelly Lewis, founder of Go! Girl Guides
worked 3.5 years as news and arts reporter, news editor

What’s one of your favorite memories from your time at the Wildcat?
I think certainly the most important thing that I ever covered was the murder that happened in the dorm rooms. It was the Galareka Harrison murder. That happened while I was the news editor, and it was the first on-campus murder in at least a decade.
For us, when I got the call, I remember exactly where I was. I was at home, it was like 6 o’clock in the morning and I got a phone call and we just started scrambling to find someone who could cover it and cover it well. The whole next week was devoted just to coverage of this topic. … That really sticks out in my mind as a defining moment of my career and of my time at the Wildcat.

Joni Hirsch Blackman, freelance writer
worked two years as city reporter

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to add?
It was my first job. I remember we got paid — I think it was $100 a month, maybe it was $100 a week. I certainly didn’t want to tell them then, but I would have done it for free. The fact that we were getting paid was a bonus. I just remember the fact that I was getting paid to write, and it was the most incredible dream come true. I’m lucky enough to keep doing that for the last 30 years since I left there, but it all started at the Wildcat and I still list that as my first job very proudly on my resume.


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