Mirror alumni vol. 1: voices of the past

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“I was the editor in chief at The Mirror from 2015-2016, and I worked as an assistant news editor and news editor before that! I have some really fond memories working at our student paper, one in specific:

One of the best memories I have from The Mirror would probably be the late nights with Chelsea Hinspeter, Jacob Scott and Manny Perez. We became a close bunch, and we learned so much from each other. When I think of The Mirror, I think about that crew and the struggles and wins we experienced together. I would say they’re all the reason I decided to pursue (an admittedly short) two-year stint at The Greeley Tribune as a business reporter right out of college. I’ll never forget turning off the lights and locking the door by myself for the last time as editor in chief in Spring 2016. Tear up just thinking about it. My heart will be forever ink-stained and driven because of this student paper, with thanks to them and none other than Matt Lubich himself, too,”

Kati Velazquez, Mirror Staff 2014-2016

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“I served with The Mirror for all four years of my undergrad, from 2001-2005. I was the assistant sports editor, co-news editor, managing editor and finally editor in chief. The Mirror was where my existing desire to work in journalism grew into a full-fledged passion. Working to develop my own skills, while coaching younger students about writing, editing and reporting, was one of the great joys of my life. The Mirror was more than where I spent most of my time each week, working to meet deadline, take calls and put out wildfires — it was my identity for four years and influenced my professional and personal life ever since graduation.

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While I was incredibly proud of the work we did every day, I’m most proud to have stood up for The Mirror’s First Amendment rights in not one, but two successful lawsuits against the university. We first took the Student Representative Council to court for multiple violations of the Colorado Open Meetings Law, including closed-door, unannounced meetings, along with violating the rules for holding executive sessions. We settled that lawsuit, and now students have the access they rightly deserve to meetings of their elected representatives. If they ever don’t – The Mirror will have their backs again.

After the council cut The Mirror’s funding soon after that lawsuit, we took them to court again. The results of that action removed the Mirror from the appropriations process controlled by the student government that we covered, and gave the paper control over its publication board members. These actions stood up for the rights of our reporters, and the students who benefit from access to an independent campus press.

Over the course of my four years with The Mirror, I was selected as the first-ever full-time intern at the Denver Post, where I worked on the night desk covering homicides, robberies and other things that happen in the dark of night. I also went on to intern at the Loveland Reporter-Herald, and after graduation, secured my first job at the Colorado Statesman where I covered Colorado politics. From there, I went on to work for the Columbine
Courier weekly newspaper in Jefferson County, followed by a five-year stint with the Boulder Daily Camera, where I covered the City Council and the city of Boulder.

After nearly a decade in the news industry, I changed careers and went into public relations because of the declining American newsroom. Still, all of my skills and professional success can be traced back to my days at The Mirror. I look back at them often and fondly, and I know that the Mirror continues to serve a critical need in the UNC community. Press on, my friends,”

Heath Montgomery, Mirror Staff 2001-2005

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“I joined The Mirror briefly in 2017 as a photographer. As someone who was studying journalism, but wasn’t sure if reporting was something I wanted to do. I was honestly pretty excited to just take pictures as a small job. It didn’t pay much, but just starting out and taking some photos really helped me start to figure out just what I might want to do journalism-wise as a career. Especially since UNC doesn’t offer any photojournalism studies. The Mirror may be small, but it’s a good way to get your foot in the door and figure out if journalism is right for you or not,”

Timothy Page, Mirror Staff 2017

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“If I had to select a candidate for the most important year in my life, 2013 would be the likely front runner. In January I got engaged, and a few months later I was selected as The Mirror’s newest editor in chief (not a small feat considering I’d transferred into UNC at the start of the school year, and was a fine arts major). While marrying my amazing wife clearly was the bigger deal, both of these events have had a profound impact on my life.

In January we launched my redesign of our website and print paper, which I still keep in my design portfolio. In May, I was given permission to live in the office for one month between moving out of the UNC dorms and into the apartment my wife and I would be sharing. During that time I’d talked with my wife about the possibility of freshening up the somewhat dour-looking Mirror office with a new coat of paint and possibly rearranging the furniture. She thought it might be a fun summer project and with the blessing of our advisor, we began some initial planning, with the work set to begin in earnest after our wedding in June.

That summer I learned a lot about my wife. While I spent much of the summer working delivering pizzas and selling kettle corn, she spent most of her time completely overhauling our entire office. All through the summer I didn’t come home to see her, I went to The Mirror to see what new work she’d done, and to help with the next phase of construction. With the exception of the basement, there wasn’t a single corner of that office that we didn’t overhaul in some way. It was a special summer for me, and one that set the tone for my time as editor at The Mirror: we worked hard and did our best to overdeliver.

When the school year started, it was my wife who would “come home to The Mirror” to see me after she got off work. We had an amazing advertising manager who worked her tail off and found us enough clients to allow us to publish all the news we could find. My editors not only made sure that we covered the bases around campus, but also found time to work on special features (including a special April Fools insert, The Mirror’s 95th anniversary edition and the first-ever “Weed Issue” of the paper). We worked our butts off. On our Sunday production days I’d come in to the office at 11 a.m. and usually leave at 3 a.m. the next day. My editors routinely stayed until past 2 a.m. most Sundays. In the midst of that hard work we found time for several “Mirror in the mirror” group selfies, office Oscars pools, one of the most depressing Super Bowl potlucks in the world (Super Bowl XLVIII, ugh) and met each other for bar trivia every now and again.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, several Mirror staff members took selfies in front of an actual mirror. Photo courtesy of Steven Josephson.

I graduated and dragged my wife out to Detroit, where I tried my hand at teaching for a few years before I realized that I still hadn’t gotten over working in the newsroom. Last year I applied to work as a copy editor and layout designer at a regional news hub outside of Detroit. My clips from The Mirror were a few years old, but they were good enough to get my foot in the door and I got hired. I took a pay cut to come back to news, but I feel it was worth it. I currently work primarily as a special sections designer and Sunday A1 designer for the Michigan hub of Digital First Media. It really is a dream job for me, and something I’d love to do for as long as it can pay the bills.

My wife and I ultimately moved on to a new renovation project: redoing a $4,000 house here in Detroit, where we now live with our amazing baby girl. Both of us look fondly back on the time we spent together in The Mirror’s office during our first few months of marriage. Ours was just a small mark in the long history of The Mirror, but it certainly made an out-
sized impact on us.

I still follow The Mirror online to keep up with what’s going on at UNC, and strongly believe in its importance. Student journalism continues to serve a vital role in public discourse, and the training provided there is critically needed in the current news landscape. I believe there’s a bright future ahead for both and look forward to looking in The Mirror in the future,”

Steven Josephson, Mirror Staff 2012-2014

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“Congratulations to the UNC Mirror staff for celebrating the newspaper’s
100th birthday!

My name is Kurt Hinkle and I was a reporter and sports editor at The Mirror from 1995-98. Then from 2008-2013, I was the general manager of the paper. I was the GM when The Mirror turned 90. I thoroughly love working alongside my peers as a student and then managing and leading the students when I was the general manager. I’ve saved a huge section of my heart for The Mirror. I think about the students, and the building on 16th Street, often.

The Mirror memories are endless. There’s the time I bribed several staff members with beers (those who were over 21, of course) just so they could help me distribute the graduation edition during the fall and spring ceremonies. Those beers were typically consumed at Roma following a successful distribution at graduation.

Or the time the water heater blew on a Saturday and a student and I waded through a foot of water in the basement to salvage what we could. (The furnace also died while I was the GM, too).

Or the time one of my students scooped every news organization in town by announcing that Macklemore was going to perform at the spring concert.

Or the time my editor and his soon-to-be wife helped me remodel the current Mirror office to its current state.

Or the time I had to make the painful decision to decrease the frequency of the paper from three days a week to a Monday weekly in 2011 (I think that was the year).

Or the endless amount of times I conversed with my students about their lives. I still keep in touch with a lot of them, and randomly ran into one today!

Or the weekly editorial meetings.

Or the time as a student I was on the award-winning staff that covered a shooting that occurred in one of the residence halls.

Or the time I traveled to Florence, Ala. with another reporter and a photographer to cover the football team’s second-consecutive Division II National Championship on behalf of The Mirror.

I miss the building, the students, the daily activity, chatting with the advertisers, the creativity, and most of all, the deadlines. I miss being a student on a deadline and also miss watching the students thrive while approaching a deadline. Being on deadline keeps you alert and focused, and I miss that feeling and that observation.

I know firsthand that I’m not the only person who also misses working for The Mirror. While I served as the GM, every year former Mirror staffers would walk into the building and reminisce about their time spent working for the paper, either as a reporter, photographer, graphic designer, ad salesperson, cartoonist, columnist, delivery driver, office assistant or in-production.

The Mirror is in their blood, as it is mine. I’m proud to be an integral part of The Mirror’s past and absolutely cherish every moment I spent as its employee. Happy 100th birthday!”


Kurt Hinkle, Mirror Staff 1995-2013

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“In February 1983, I went to cover a speech in the UC by Angela Davis — a famous activists for the African-American movement who came on the scene in the 1960s, and I think persists today.

In 1983, the Civil Rights movement was simmering in the aftermath of the violence of the 60s and 70s (yes, I believe it’s still simmering to some extent today). The Black Student Union hosted a series of speakers — Stokely Carmichael was another one who spoke that month. But Angela Davis was a really good “get” for them.

The introduction/prologue to her speech was done by BSU President Neil Williams. It was about a 20-minute presentation about the difficulties of being black in Greeley. His talk extended into the uncomfortable range for many. Anyway, when Angela Davis finally got to the podium, she gave a wonderful presentation about the roots of her involvement in the civil rights movement and where it might be heading. At several points in her presentation, she said ‘If we had more time, I would talk about ….’

So after I wrote the story about the talk, I wrote a column expressing the disappointment that Angela Davis didn’t have enough time to develop her points because the BSU used their podium to carry on about their own perceived injustice.

The next day, I was visited in the Mirror offices by an entourage of BSU leadership, who confronted me about the column. I was advised that I should stop writing negative things about the BSU “or else.” What “or else” meant was never fully expressed — but that would become apparent over the next two months.

I was accused of thinking that all black students should stand down. My point to them is NOT that they should “all be quiet” — but that they should give this valuable time to someone with nationwide appeal who might have had something more of value to share with those in attendance, but didn’t have the time.

This opened up a hornet’s nest of activity on campus. A campuswide meeting on diversity drew a number of minority groups to a heated discussion that ultimately resulted in a group of campus feminists (called the Revolting Hags) turning the event into a bit of a brawl.

One of the Hags launched herself toward me, and as the melee quickly ensued, I made my way out of the door. Over the ensuing months, I re-
ceived a number of calls at the office and at home — all tainted through their positions on the issue of race. Many people wanted to chastise me — others were praising me. I really took no solace or shame from any of it. My comments were never aimed at an entire race — only the individuals who I felt were overstaying their necessary time at the podium — at the expense of an intelligent activist who really is an insightful speaker.

Sadly, nearly everyone around me — roommates, classmates, friends and family were drawn into the furor. My girlfriend — who was a night clerk at
Lawrenson Hall (and a former Mirror staffer) — was harassed and threatened. The Denver Post ultimately did a story on the angst in Greeley. The Vice President of the BSU was particularly angry — and wanted to be militant. Daryl Miller was his name, and he continued working with the BSU after I graduated (Dec. 1983). In 1984 or 85, I believe, he was cited for burning a cross into the yard of the Black Student Union property — apparently to demonstrate how difficult life was in Greeley for blacks. He ultimately changed his name to Desi Cortez and hosted a radio show at KOA for a number of years.

I learned some valuable lessons from it all. Foremost, the First Amendment is a wonderful stalwart of our Constitution. But it works both ways. People who you write about also have the right to respond. You’d like to think they would respond in a responsible manner — but what is responsible is defined by each person.

The threat of violence is probably over the line for a responsible response. But when you are dealing with perhaps the most emotional issue in American history — race relations — you need to be ready for people to act less-than-responsibly,”

Brian Hale, Mirror Staff 1982-1983

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