Reflection: Hit the Road, Jack

Photo by Jeannette LaPointe.

And now, the end is near and I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do. I don’t mince words when I say that The New Paltz Oracle is by far the most important organization at SUNY New Paltz. It serves more of a purpose than other groups could ever dream of achieving and provides the greatest opportunity for students to develop their writing, thinking and leadership skills.

I’ve found that working on The Oracle is a lot like being on Saturday Night Live. We’re a weekly product with a long, cherished history that includes some weeks where we could do better and other weeks where we crush it. Regardless, our ultimate product always comes from some innate idea fueled by an unyielding passion to provide premium content to our wonderfully loyal audience. Also, the staff is hilarious and predominantly Jewish. 

I have been involved with many people and organizations during my four years here, but none have driven me to give more of myself than The Oracle. The newsroom, plastered with those manic orange walls, has been both my favorite place on campus and my Waterloo; bringing me some of my happiest moments as well as ratcheting up my inner turmoil. 

And yet, week after week, my staff and I come back to atone for whatever mistakes we might’ve made along the way because our work matters. Because it made a change in campus policy or got us a 40-minute in-person interview with a sitting congressman, or even just because somebody emailed us saying that they liked an article. We report on what we as students decide to report on. No one has ever interfered with that process and luckily, during my time as Editor-in-Chief, nobody ever did. 

First off, I want to thank God for putting me in situations where I could contribute my skills and ultimately succeed as a leader. To that same end, my parents have been political and journalistic role models all of my life and graciously provided me with their unwavering support every single day I was here. The change from a business major to journalism is not easy to justify but they knew me, my abilities and my drive. I didn’t get to lead this paper without the constant love, motivation and guidance I received from them. Without them, I would not be half the person I am today. 

On to the staff, I’ll start with Mother Mel, who now encompasses all which the light touches. Man the ship and continue the hard work that we started together and make sure to hold people in power accountable, no matter who they are or whichever party they come from. 

Kristen, you interviewed me five months before I reached out to you about being on staff and I still kick myself for not joining sooner. You are a consummate professional, a great curator of interesting ideas and one of the most genial and organized people I have ever met. My hat is off to you and the quality journalism you embody.  

Abbott, we were once in an elevator during my first week on staff and I forgot who you were and just as well assumed that was it for me. Thank you for being so tenacious, demanding the best work out of me as well as being a mentor, a friend and a political soundboard who took time to show me what The Oracle is really about. 

Nate, no matter which coast you’re on, you remain my spiritual yogi. You are a journalist’s journalist, wise as they come, the guy I go to for the scoop on anything and a reliable, steady force during uneasy times. Dylan said that “beauty walks a razor’s edge,” and I know some day you’ll make it yours.

Sam, I have always said that I will be so thankful to have worked with you when I see your byline in The New Yorker in 20 years. I have treasured our time together as coworkers and thank you for writing so goddamn well that I wanted to raise my own standards. 

Rachael, you will face one of the most difficult turnovers in trying to rebuild staff once everyone leaves. However, I know you, your fight and your ability to rally the forces. I trust that you will not only find people to join, but you’ll find the right people to join.

*pioneer voice* Young Michael, you’ve been my Sports section coworker, copy desk mate and for a time, my lowly subordinate. Since my first day here, you remained my friend constantly and one of these days, we will make our way to Citi Field and catch a $6 Mets game. 

Jess, I have known you, Conor and Robynne since my first official day of college and can’t imagine my time in New Paltz without you guys. You have always written things, (whether for Stonesthrow or The Oracle), by consistently producing pieces with a flair and style all your own. I’m proud to call you both a friend and coworker. 

Jon Perry and Monique, the three of us were Tito, Jermaine and Marlon and we will remain that way until the sun consumes the Earth in a few billion years. Thank you for being the best Features section I could’ve asked for.  

Matt Nash, your photos are great and you’re still the best Matt Nash I’ve ever met. 

Holly, you were a Swiss Army Knife for our staff and I admire your writing and reporting as much as your photos. 

David, you always captured such interesting photographs that never failed to enhance the stories they accompanied. 

Jeannette, another North Country New Paltz alum, I thank you for all of the pictures you took for us and making time for our publication in your already busy schedule of photographing the world. 

Anthony, I will never forget your beautiful blue eyes or your heroics in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. You have been nothing short of a tremendous performer on staff and I expect good things from Features next year. 

Jackson, aside from our shared name, there’s not much else in common between us, politically speaking. That being said, you’ve proven yourself to be an incredibly reasonable liberal, (a rare feat) and I hope you turn The Opinionated Oracle into New Paltz’s version of The Rush Limbaugh Show.

Chris, I’m glad that of all the people who approach me in the bar about joining staff that it was you. Despite your vaping and weird thing for mangos, you’ve proven yourself to be a talented and ambitious reporter.

 Meg, I’ve told you before how I wanted you on the paper after your first article and still believe that you will be part of the next strong Oracle generation. Fully embrace the power and responsibility of the News section. 

Kintura, I miss having your confidence and knowledge in the office on production night, even if it meant taking me down a few pegs. 

Erica, I’m so glad you joined staff and I wish you had joined earlier. I am enamored with your charisma and true dedication to music as a craft worthy of scholarly study. 

Melissa, *raises arms like a football referee* I thank you for being my first page editor, always being down for anything sports related and for your taste in alternative rock. 

Rob, I have only one demand of you: let’s get fucking freaky now. 

Natalie, your writing has only gotten stronger as the semester has gone on and you always have a smile and boundless exuberance, which I believe will benefit the paper in the long-run. 

Brandon, you served so admirably as the honorary president of The Oracle and I hope that I can continue to confuse you whenever we interact.  

Briana, I will never tire of saying your last name or appreciating the little things you do that make your work on the paper so important. Best of luck with A & E and the ideas you’ll bring to it next year. 

Russell and Karl, thank you for providing me with nightly sports and political razzing. I wish the best of luck to your respective teams, but certainly not the Yankees. 

To the cartoonists: Stefanie, Luke and Joe, I say thank you for doing something that 90 percent of us physically cannot do. You each brought such a refreshing perspective to your work and created art that reinforced the meaning of “We at The New Paltz Oracle,” which I remain forever grateful for.  

I also want to thank a few people who aren’t on staff but recognized the hard work and dedication my staff and I put in over the years. 

Thank you to Mayor Tim Rogers, Town Supervisor Neil Bettez, Jason Gilliland and the whole staff at the Office of Veteran and Military Services, Tom and Ellen Rocco, Butch Dener, Kitty Brown and David Smith, Jack Zand and of course, Rosalyn Cherry. 

Among my professors, I have to give a special thanks to Eugene Heath, who was instrumental in helping me secure my internship in Washington, D.C. Despite the fact that I am not a philosophy major, you attested to the potential you saw in me and for that I am endlessly appreciative. 

Thank you to James Gormley, who was my J1 professor and published my semester-long effort on the legalization of ride-sharing in the Legislative Gazette, as well as Adam Bosch, who was a great help during the initial reporting of the Joel Guerrero case. Most of all, I want to thank Lisa Phillips for assisting me in becoming the writer I am today. Without your steadfast belief in journalism and the introduction of other great visiting mentors like Deb Amos and Rob Cox, I don’t know where I would be. I respect you so much for what you have done for me and the College. 

Special thanks to my friends here, there and everywhere, like sQuAd, FQ, JRV 54, Mario Prainito, for delivering the paper week after week; Dan Cowan, my mayonnaise bobcat; Mike Conn, my muse; Alanna Schaeffer for encouraging me to pursue writing over business since freshman year and especially Liz Sweeney for buying me more lunches than I can ever pay back. 

I want to conclude by stating an indisputable fact: Amanda Copkov is my all-time favorite member of The Oracle. She’s the reason I joined, the reason I thrived and I could go on talking about how wonderful she has been to me in every aspect of my life since November of 2015. 

Well, that’s all, folks. Thank you for letting an upstate Republican who loves the Patriots be your trusted news source all these years. If you need me, I’ll be in the back corner of P & G’s dancing on top of a table to “Tequila” with the rugby team.

About Jack O'Brien 18 Articles
Jack is a fourth-year journalism major.