This new column is our way of checking in with our Daily Campus alum. We learn how they first got their start at The Daily Campus, what they gained from being a part of the newspaper and what they are doing as careers right now.
“I came in not thinking that I was going to be a journalist,” Christopher McDermott, Class of 2017 alum, said.
“When I came to UConn, I knew I liked to write, but I didn’t really know what kind of job I could get from a day-to-day basis,” McDermott said. “I came to The Daily Campus, and it kind of clicked. I could see myself working as a reporter.”
McDermott attributed his current job as a reporter for the CT Examiner, a recently founded news team in Old Lyme covering the southeastern part of state attempting to look regionally at policy-focused issues, to being part of The Daily Campus, he said.
“I can’t recommend it enough to any student at UConn thinking about journalism,” he said.
McDermott joined The Daily Campus halfway through his sophomore year, having known about the publication for a while. His friend was the associate life editor at the time and inspired him to join. He had joined multiple clubs before but did not feel as if he was making any kind of impact. With The Daily Campus, he got to fulfill his passion for writing and see his stories in print. That isn’t to say it came naturally from the start though. His first story was not the most polished.
“It was pretty bad,” he said with a laugh. His first story for the life section was related to the streaming site Netflix.
“I wasn’t ready for it to be honest, but the editors were really nice about it,” he said. “I think that’s what’s great … you have to get comfortable, make a few mistakes, have a difficult process. It taught me to meet deadlines and push through hard situations — valuable things.”
McDermott then went on to write other stories.
“Early on as a writer in the life section, we had a day in a life feature,” he said. His task was to find a student on campus and ask them what they did. It was valuable in keeping him interested in people and ultimately a good skill to have as a reporter.
“I spoke with a student who was a radio host, the USG president [at the time] and a student who was connected to a lot of clubs,” McDermott said. “It’s always good to care what people are saying.”
He found another challenging and rewarding experience as news editor his senior year. He ran the section with his “number two,” Associate News Editor Molly Stadnicki, with about 15 writers, he said.
“It was the first time I was really managing people or directing a team,” McDermott said. “I learned to communicate really clearly with people.”
Those communication skills were vital in giving stories to writers, often a task that McDermott had to come up with himself during his time as an editor. Those skills are useful to him as a professional reporter now, he said.
Everything seemed to fit into place for McDermott when he joined The Daily Campus, and he was eager to share how much of an impact being a part of the publication was for him. Although he graduated with a degree in English, it’s clear he left Storrs with more than a degree in hand.
“The Daily Campus probably was the most significant thing at UConn besides my degree,” he said.
Kimberly Nguyen is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.