Jeff Drew jeffdrewpictures.com
As I’m writing this, I am exactly 24 hours away from a new phase of my life. Outside my window, it’s morning on Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, where hipsters and baby strollers weave among each other on their mission for iced lattes. This will be my station for the next nine months, while I pursue a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Starting a new adventure has a tendency to make a person turn her head and look to what came before. Over the last week, as I’ve gone to orientation and met the people who I’ll be learning from and with, I feel like this is especially so. Because while a number of my classmates hail from national and international publications, touting hefty, name-brand résumés, I feel like I got a better deal.
My time at the Alibi began as an intern, directly following the presidential election of 2004. I still think that first week holds the title of one of the happiest in my life, since all I wanted was to be there, to learn how it all worked at my favorite publication and hopefully see my name in print. I was afforded the privilege of writing the leading news story in nearly every issue that first year, in addition to a couple of cover pieces. I was so damn proud of myself.
What felt even better is that other people liked what I did, and over that first year I went from intern to staff writer and copyeditor to managing editor and news editor. Two years later, I made editor-in-chief. Then I was really proud.
I like to believe all that happened due to some measure of my own talent. But greater than that was the support, guidance and friendship I was given by every member of the Alibi’s staff. That’s not something any fledgling journalist could say.
This week, as I reflect on what built me, I’m not thinking about titles. I’m thinking about Steven Robert Allen, one of the best damn editors and human beings I’ve ever known. I’m thinking about Tim McGivern, who gave me an opportunity to prove myself and taught me everything he could about journalism that first year. I’m thinking about Laura Marrich, who I knew I wanted to claim as my friend and colleague the moment I encountered her and her magnetism. I’m thinking about Marisa Demarco, who’s as sharp as she is prolific, both in her work and her life, and who is still a far better journalist than I. I’m thinking about Jessica Cassyle Carr and her impeccable sense of humor and Devin D. O’Leary’s ability to swivel around in his chair and shoot out the answer to a question you didn’t even know you were asking when you were pretty sure he wasn’t even listening. I’m thinking about Erin Adair-Hodges and her gorgeous, hilarious prose and Simon McCormack’s inherent drive and awesomeness. All of these people, and so many others, helped cobble me together.
Here’s a hearty happy birthday to the Alibi, which continues to be a wellspring of friendship and wisdom in my life. Thanks for letting me in. And thanks for rocking so very hard.
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