|General manager says farewell to the Daily Vidette|
|Written by Jacob Lambert, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Sunday, 06 May 2012 13:55|
Established in 1888, the Daily Vidette has held a long and prestigious presence on the ISU campus. In 1989, the Vidette was inducted into the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame. Seven years later, Rick Jones, then professor for the School of Communication, began his role as the Vidette’s new General Manager.
On May 31, after nearly 16 years with the Vidette, Jones will say goodbye to the publication he said has offered him “the best of both worlds” as both a journalist and professor.
“All I ever wanted to be once I reached high school was a journalist … I liked being the one who got to tell the stories; I also enjoyed teaching and still do,” Jones said. “This [position] is being part of a newspaper staff, and there are also some teaching moments that are involved,” he added.
Having accumulated 16 years of experience as a professional journalist prior to becoming a professor at ISU in 1987, Jones is no stranger to the inner workings of the newsroom. Even so, he takes pride in working for a publication in which the students are the primary decision makers.
“I am very much a purist in the idea that student-run means student-run,” he said. “I am here to give advice and to perhaps explain the consequences of different courses of action, but the students make the important decisions.”
He added that his primary goal as general manager over the past several years has been to “make the Vidette a place where students are nurtured and given a chance to succeed.”
With graduation on the horizon, many senior journalists find themselves faced with the reality of finding a job in what is often labeled a “dying industry.” However, Jones said there will always be jobs available for those who are willing to take the necessary steps to become effective and efficient with their craft.
The Vidette, he said, offers a “learning lab” environment for students to hone their skills in a variety of different areas from news and feature reporting to advertising and design. Beyond nourishing these skill sets, Jones said he hopes to have instilled a sense of confidence in those who have worked with the Daily Vidette.
“I hope that I’ve helped students learn to believe in themselves because the world is full of people who will tell us that we’re not capable of doing this job or that job,” Jones said. “The world is full of naysayers, so you must learn to believe in yourself, and I think I’ve given students that mindset.”
With this mindset, many of Jones’ former students and Videtters have since gone on to pursue rewarding careers in the field of journalism. One student among them, Marlen Garcia, recently left her position with USA Today as the lead college basketball writer.
“Marlen is quite outspoken by the fact that ‘Rick Jones taught me how to write leads and I still try to follow his advice.’ When you hear words like that from someone who has gone on to receive national acclaim and still values the very basic lessons, those are very heartwarming moments,” Jones said.
Even so, Jones will be the last person in the newsroom to take credit for the Vidette’s continued growth and success. The students, Jones said, are the ones responsible for keeping the Vidette’s great reputation intact.
“This story is about me, and this time is about me, but the Vidette is not about Rick Jones,” he said. “I’m proud of the role I’ve played here, but Rick Jones is not bigger than the Vidette. I am more than willing to acknowledge that the stars are the students, and that’s the way it should be,” he added.
Upon his retirement, Jones will pass on his responsibilities as General Manager to John Plevka, current managing editor for the Peoria Journal Star. Jones said Plevka will bring with him plenty of new ideas for the paper while also maintaining a sense of the “Vidette family” culture that keeps the organization alive and well.
With less than a month before his official retirement from the Vidette, Jones said he is ready to face his newest challenge — learning to relax.
“It won’t be as easy as it might sound when you’ve gotten up for the past 45 years and gone to work every day. It’s going to be a little difficult to step away,” he said.
As he does step away, Jones added that he hopes to have made a positive impact on the work and the lives of the students he leaves behind.
“I would like to be remembered as someone who cared about the students and wanted them all to succeed,” he said.