Editor says farewell, ready for his next adventure

Ryan Spoehr, Clarion editor in chief

As a student at Madison College, it has been a long, wild ride that has made me a better person because of it. But all good things come to an end at some point.

Five years ago, I walked into Truax for the first time. After a disappointing high school tenure for several different reasons, I didn’t know what to expect. I really knew only two things – one, I couldn’t rely on what happened in high school and all I wanted to do in life was to be a reporter whether it be in print or broadcast.

When I first came to Madison College, I had decent grades, but no real direction. After being at the school for a couple of years, I applied to UW-Whitewater for Journalism. However, the letter I got back wasn’t the one I wanted to receive, so I stayed at Madison College, not knowing exactly what to do.

In 2009, when I started to look for fall classes, I stumbled upon a class I didn’t know existed – Feature Writing. It was exactly what I was waiting to take. Taught by Natasha Kassulke, a former Wisconsin State Journal reporter and now editor of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, Feature Writing is a class on long-form journalism and has assignments that mirror feature stories in newspapers and magazines. Just like two years prior when I came to Madison College for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect.

What I didn’t know was that one class would be a life-changer for me. After a few assignments, a conversation with Kassulke led to signing up for the Journalism Certificate, receiving an internship at the Lake Mills Leader and my introduction to The Clarion. I would write for the Leader for almost two years and I’d have an incredible two-year relationship with The Clarion.

Not long after signing up for the Journalism Certificate, I was covering sports for The Clarion, the Leader, Deerfield Independent and Cambridge News. I was even forced to develop a thick skin after having a local politician or two get in my face at board meetings that I covered. It was a rush to say the least.

Then, I had the honor of being The Clarion’s news editor, giving me the opportunity to interview Paul Soglin and Dave Cieslewicz as they squared off to be Madison’s mayor. I also found myself down at the Capitol with my trusty recorder in hand as I interviewed teachers, firefighters and other Wisconsinites who were protesting Gov. Scott Walker and his cuts to education and union benefits.

After all that, I had an even bigger honor – serving as editor in chief on a nationally recognized student newspaper. Being the editor at The Clarion was a job I often called, “the best student help job I could possibly have.” There were challenges no doubt, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Just like throughout my entire career at The Clarion, I had the chance to work with some bright young journalists and designers who are just entering the professional world.

Part of me wants to stay with a successful publication like this one, but it is time for me to go. My time as editor has come to an end with the release of this issue. I want to thank all of the people who I’ve worked with at The Clarion for helping me achieve success at this level, a feat that almost seemed nearly impossible five years ago. I especially want to thank Doug Kirchberg, the college’s student publications advisor. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher along the way. Thanks to our readers.Without you, there is no Clarion.

As for the next editor in chief, George Treviranus, to say this is a well-deserved honor for you would be an understatement. You are a part of the new breed of newspaper personnel today – someone who can write, take photos and design how the paper looks when it reaches the newsstand. You’ve been in the trenches making deadline with us for almost as long as I have been at the paper. I have no doubt you will not only succeed, but succeed with excellence. Good luck to you next year.

With my time at Madison College coming to a close, that means I must move on. I won’t be away from the newspaper world for long though. I was accepted into the Journalism program at UW-Eau Claire and I was offered and I’ve accepted a position as copy editor at The Spectator, the university’s newspaper, an award-winning publication in its own right.

But, before I go, thanks again to the people who have been supportive of me in and out of Student Life. Thanks also to Larry Hansen and Natasha for all the lessons and the Journalism Certificate. There is a strong writing culture here in large part because of what you guys do here.

So, with that, I say goodbye Clarion and goodbye Madison College.

Did I forget to mention they have a radio ‘and’ TV station at UW-Eau Claire too? I might be pretty busy up there.