Fred Blauth | Editor-In-Chief
To be completely honest, I thought I hated Pittsburgh when I came here four years ago. To set the scene, my family and I drove seven hours in a squished mini-van on a frigid Sunday in January. We toured the campus and asked the tour guide where to grab a bite to eat in the Steel City. She told us to go to Station Square which looked like the set of the next Walking Dead movie. I told my family there was no way I was going to this school.
One slight problem: I didn’t get into the other schools I applied to. That fact and DU’s free application sealed my fate. Five months later I moved into St. Anns and met my 300-pound rando roommate who had blacklight posters of Jesus and Mary that would stare at me all night. My classes were less than interesting and being forced into a friend group, or should I say “Learning Community,” wasn’t doing much for my social life either. If you can’t tell, I still wasn’t having a good time.
It wasn’t until a clumsy girl who wore way too many bows and polka dots asked me to come down to the newsroom that things started to change, my second semester. She was in my learning community and had seen me carry a film camera into class a few times, a current obsession. “You should take photos for The Duke,” she explained. The current editor was a graduating senior and the position was paid. “Plus you get to go to a ton of free shit.”
And to the free shit I went. I nailed the position by the end of the year and late nights with a bunch of journalists scored me a few friends too. During my time as Photo Editor my sophomore year, I crashed black tie parties, hung off the side of 20-story buildings and got hit by at least one ball from each of the respective sports at Duquesne. I had gone to every area of the city come spring time (all without a car!) while many of my peers had only explored the frat houses in Oakland. I could get used to this, I thought. Pittsburgh was shaping up to be a lot cooler than my first visit and I couldn’t wait to explore more of it with camera in hand.
Little did I know I’d be trading in my lens for a notebook and pen. By some stroke of luck the Editor-in-Chief at the time was from the same area of New Jersey and had bigger plans for me than I had ever imagined. She pulled me aside and told me to apply for her position. She saw something in me that I didn’t but slowly I learned.
I accepted the Editor-in-Chief position and held it for my final two years at Duquesne. I was the youngest Editor to ever run The Duke and sole photo editor to take over the position. Needless to say, I was insecure about managing my own peers. Couple that with my lack of writing experience and I was terrified. How was I going to lead a staff? What had I signed up for?
As I sit here now typing this I still don’t have all the answers but I do have a few facts for you, just as every unbiased piece of journalism should.
We’ve had some emotional nights at The Duke both positive and negative. I’ve had to fire editors who weren’t pulling their weight and had others quit on their own accord. We’ve received just as many awards and acknowledgements as we’ve received hate mail. We’ve had countless computers fry, servers crash and even today our printer is on the fritz.
But at the end of every Wednesday night whether it be 11 p.m. or 2 a.m. the paper hits stands in the morning.
I may not be the best speller and have been known to miss an oxford comma in print. Heck, I can be the Jerry Gergich of the newsroom at times. But I will say this, the people I’ve met at The Duke and the work I’ve done with them has changed my life for the better. So to everyone on staff, alumina included, I want to say thank you. Thank you for letting me work for you, with you and letting me lead you. Thank you.