Farewell column: Lifestyles editor Zoe McDonald

Posted on May 2 2017 - 8:02am by Zoe Mcdonald
Zoe McDonald and McKenna Wierman

Former lifestyles editors Zoe McDonald and McKenna Wierman are pictured just after sending off their 20-page Back-to-School edition in fall 2016.

I still remember my closing sentence during my interview for lifestyles editor with Clara Turnage and The Daily Mississippian’s then editor-in-chief Logan Kirkland that I suspect got me the job: “As long as I have coffee, I can do anything.”

That statement still rings very true. Next to my co-editor McKenna Wierman and always with a coffee in hand (well, in my hand. McKenna is averse.), we breathed life into the lifestyles section.

If there’s anything that held together our section over these past two years, it’s been female friendship and support. McKenna and I had never met before our first day, but it didn’t take us long to decide we’d be best friends, ride or die, throughout our editorships and beyond. Clara, I think, knew very well how we would become a team, a dynamic duo both in and outside of work. And know this – our job isn’t particularly easy. It’s incredibly fun and rewarding, but not easy.

That being said, working for a student-run newspaper is a treat. While finding a job in the “real” journalism world is tough in all senses of the word, working for a newspaper at a university instills one with the sense that there’s a place for one’s writing, and that someone will consequently run across it and read it.

In the same way that people voraciously devour amazing food, I write, indulgently but with a knowledge that it’s necessary to my being. This is all with the hope that my output might also be necessary to someone else’s being.

My readers have joined me in visiting John Currence’s Main Event kitchen, tracing the history of the now non-existent Cats Purring Dude Ranch (co-authored with a colleague and pal, Cody Thomason), learning what exactly happens in the Title IX and student conduct offices and, in one of my favorite stories, going behind the scenes at Off Square Books with comedian Patton Oswalt. I was a sophomore then and only cultured enough to be familiar with Oswalt’s great role as Ratatouille in the Pixar film of the same name.

At the realization that people were actually reading my work, I was pushed as an editor and a writer to assign and delve into stories that might be brushed aside. I’ve been lucky to form great connections with Oxford’s music community (shout out to Muscle Beach Records). I was pushed to look at other issues, too, such as sexual assault on college campuses. Working with an amazing staff last fall on our award-winning “Red Zone” issue proved the sheer power of words to create real conversations around important issues. In that issue, I shared a woman’s story of strength and resilience and how that strength helped form a movement on campus.

When I hold a print issue like the “Red Zone” or see people react to my stories on social media, I feel a little glow. As that little glow sets in, it turns into an affirmation that I absolutely must continue to write.

As my own story at Ole Miss and The Daily Mississippian reaches its conclusion and I think of the little pieces of me I’ve left — these stories and photos, old newspapers with my name on the masthead among some of my best friends and coworkers — I know that I’ve pushed myself further than I ever expected here.

Thank you to the lifestyles writing staff, Patricia Thompson, McKenna, Clara and the rest of the wonderful editors I’ve worked with over the past two years. Most of all, thank you to the readers of The DM.

There really is always a story to be told.