Throwback Thursday: Author & Veteran Journalist Recalls ‘My Life as a College Newspaper Editor’

Throwback Thursday is an occasional CMM feature focused on fascinating, impacting, controversial and quirky moments and memories tied to college media history.

In a wonderfully candid, smile-inducing new blog post, best-selling author and superstar sports journalist Jeff Pearlman recalls the year he spent in charge of The Delaware Review at the University of Delaware. Read out of context, it comes across like a trippy, journo-themed spin-off to “The Wolf of Wall Street” — there are fighting midgets, a beer-soaked orange couch, secret byline switching, Snoop Dogg, a peeping Tom and a bold student virgin’s stand against “a world many say is dominated by promiscuity and endangered by sexually transmitted diseases.” 

In all seriousness though, the timing of the reflection is especially poignant given the student newspaper’s current financial struggles and recent crowdfunding campaign. As a reader and college media geek, the Review has always been one of my favorite student pubs — and it has also apparently left a powerful, lasting impression on one of its most journalistically successful alums.

According to Pearlman in his post — headlined “My Life as a College Newspaper Editor”: “Even though I’ve had my share of profound experiences at The Tennessean, at Sports Illustrated, at Newsday, writing books, there was nowhere more important for my personal and career development than the small shitty Review office, located on the second floor of the student center on the University of Delaware campus.”

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What I enjoyed most from Pearlman’s look back at his student journ days — especially the year he spent as the Review’s EIC — was his memory of just how cocky, ethically-challenged and cringe-inducing his attitude and some of his actions were. It may read as trying-too-hard-to-humblebrag at first glance, but go ask any former college media editor with a half-decent memory: The staff bonding, idealistic editorializing and award-winning news reports were absolutely coupled with tons of chaos, stress, sleep deprivation and ludicrously bad decision-making.

In respect to the latter, my favorite snippet:

“I was just a punk who wanted to make the paper fun. The results? Nonstop errors. Awful lapses in judgement. There was a story about a peeper who stalked female students around campus. Our headline: HE COMES BY DAY, HE COMES BY NIGHT. A football player allegedly sexually assaulted a student, and I decided, sans a moment’s reflection, to run his mugshot on the front page (charges were ultimately dropped). I wrote a weekly column, and I thought — for a reason I can’t even fathom — it’d be funny to have my mugshot taken without a shirt (lord knows, I was no bodybuilder). I habitually ripped sororities, probably because my warped mind thought it’d help get laid (it didn’t). Oh, speaking of getting laid. I also wrote a column, headlined THE SECRET LIFE OF A DELAWARE (GASP! ) VIRGIN that ran to great (campus) fanfare, and resulted in me being interviewed for a Philadelphia news segment that I’ll never live down.”

Check out his entire post ASAP, and then share it with friends, fellow staffers and strangers.

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