News editor bids farewell to the NI


Courtesy Photo

After 2.5 years with the Northern Iowan, News Editor Elizabeth Kelsey says goodbye to UNI and the NI.


Writing ledes isn’t always my strong suit, and it appears this goodbye column is no exception. I’ve written the entire article; I simply can’t decide how to begin it.

I suppose there’s some excuse for me. It’s hard enough to believe that in two weeks I’ll be graduating from UNI, and it’s even harder to fully comprehend that I’ll be leaving the Northern Iowan, this place where I’ve worked for over half of my college career.

My path to the NI office was a winding one, but I’m so glad I found my way to the basement of Maucker Union, because my employment with the NI has unquestionably shaped my life, my college experience and my career.

After dabbling in journalism in high school, I drifted away from the field, but I always knew I had a passion for writing. Luckily, I fell back into journalism in college, stumbling upon the digital media department and the Northern Iowan during the fall of my sophomore year.

In January 2019, I became a staff writer and was immediately hooked. I loved the opportunity to attend diverse campus events and meet people, and I was so proud to see my work in print. More importantly, I suddenly realized that writing, particularly journalistic writing, was something I enjoyed so much that I could completely lose track of time while doing it. It felt right.

In fall 2019, I became the News Editor, a position I’ve been honored to hold for the last two years. It’s been quite the ride, covering big events from politics to racial tensions to a pandemic. I’ve written more than 150 articles, taken a few photos and even gotten to use my Spanish skills as part of our Northern Iowan en Español initiative (¡muchas gracias a Nixon Benitez, Mario Mendez Aguilar y al Dr. Juan Carlos Castillo por su ayuda con este proyecto!).

As News Editor, I’ve been pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I can’t even see it behind me anymore — but I’ve loved it. I developed my nose for news, gained confidence and interview experience, became proficient at writing on deadline and deepened my love of the written word.

I can’t say enough about the personal and professional growth that came from my time with the NI. I know the skills I’ve gained here will be invaluable as I start my first full-time job as a regional reporter for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa.

As is customary in these goodbye columns, a (hopefully) brief list of thank-yous:

To Gabby Leitner, thank you for responding so quickly to a random, rambling email sent by a girl from your high school who thought she might be interested in writing for the NI. Your encouragement, responsiveness and guidance were the main reason I joined the NI, and I can’t thank you enough for that, as well as for your continuing friendship. The hours we spent laughing in the office were some of the best moments of my junior year (before a stupid thing called COVID-19 intervened).

To Chris Martin, thank you for your constant support of the NI through the many ups and downs of the last few years. From managing ads, passing on story ideas, offering ethical advice and even helping deliver newspapers at ungodly hours of the morning, you’re the best advisor we could ask for. A huge thank you also for your support and interest in my own academic and professional career.

To the ‘20-21 editorial staff, thank you for making Sunday and Wednesday afternoons so enjoyable. Emma’le Maas, Anthony Witherow, Erin Kamp, Colin Horning, Gabi Cummings and Karla De Bruin, the work you all do is amazing, and the paper and my life are both richer for it.

To all the former editors and writers with whom I worked, particularly Sofia Legaspi and Cece Mitchell, thanks for welcoming me to the journalistic world and sharing your wisdom. Your passion inspired me to become the writer and editor I am today.

And finally, a special shoutout to my mom for reading every single issue of the NI and always sending me texts or emails saying, “the NI looks great today!” Your support and interest mean the world.

Although I sometimes struggle with ledes, I’m usually pretty good at concluding articles… but unfortunately, I can’t end this one with a pithy or poignant quote from a source.

So I’ll just say a final thank-you to all of you, the readers who have allowed me to serve as your News Editor for the last two years.  It’s been a privilege I will always treasure.