Marcus Jackson/About Town: Good news, bad news ... and the last word

Marcus Jackson/About Town: Good news, bad news ... and the last word

A year or so into my time at The News-Gazette, sports writer Jeff Mezydlo left the paper to take a job in the Chicago area. In a farewell piece Mezydlo wrote online, he took the time to name the dozens and dozens of folks from area high schools and communities who helped him with his coverage and became friends and sources.

I remember reading that and thinking how cool it was that he did that, and I figured one day, when or if I left The News-Gazette, I would do the same thing.

I've got good news and bad news regarding that. The bad news is I'm not going to do that. I've been impacted positively by so many people in my 12-plus years here that we'd run out of ink and I'd run out of energy naming you all. The good news, of course, is that this community has been so incredible to me and has had such a profound impact on my life and career that naming you all is an impossible task.

It starts at the very beginning, in 2005, when I arrived in C-U after graduating from Eastern Illinois. I knew no one around these parts, and before anyone around here knew my name or gave a rip about who I was, I had people in my corner making sure I was all right. Working in sports, you keep weird hours, and there's hardly any time for holidays. When I couldn't make it home to the Chicago area for Thanksgiving or whatever the occasion was, the Kohlbeckers, the McCumbers and the Mooneys made sure I had a place to go. They were my family when I couldn't be with mine, and I can never thank them enough for that.

It has been an emotional couple of weeks as I've come to the decision to leave this business to start a new career, and it hasn't been easy. I always figured I'd ride off into the sunset and move back closer to home and not think twice about it.

It's not that simple. The relationships I've built personally and professionally here are ones I treasure, and I know I've made some lifelong friends here. I've questioned whether I'm making the right call, but I've been reminded a couple of times these past few weeks that life is short. First was the untimely passing of my friend Doug McCumber. It was difficult saying goodbye to him, but while we celebrated his life, I got the chance to catch up with some old friends I hadn't seen in years who were there for me in those early days.

I was in a scary car crash Monday; a couple inches here or there, and I might not have gotten the chance to do this.

I'm thankful to be doing this and I've been thankful for all the opportunities this job has afforded me over the years. I was a sports intern, a temporary copy editor, full-time copy editor, sports writer, copy editor and designer. I covered state championship games, a Rose Bowl and NCAA tournaments (only two), and I've been lucky enough to have conversations with so many readers from all corners of our coverage area and beyond.

I'll miss that, and I'll miss my co-workers. I've learned so much from all of them, whether it was a conversation, asking questions or just watching them go about their work on a daily basis. So many of them are excellent examples of what professionals should be, but none more than Bob Asmussen.

On my first day working full time in sports, Bob pulled me aside, welcomed me and gave me some invaluable words of advice. He knew what it was like to work for someone as demanding and creative as Jim Rossow, and he prepared me for that by telling me to work my butt off and never say "no" to a request from Jim, no matter how outrageous it might have seemed.

Bob and I traveled a lot together covering Big Ten football and to see him come back from his heart attack and stroke and demand to continue doing all the things he had done previously, though they're not nearly as easy for him as they used to be, has been incredibly inspiring.

Dan Corkery took a chance on me in 2005, George Dobrik molded me into a semi-competent copy editor/designer, and Rossow challenged me in more ways I ever thought imaginable and made me into whatever it is that I have become in this profession.

Again, there are too many people here at The News-Gazette to thank, but I hope you all know my appreciation.

That's going to be all from me. Thank you all again for your kindness and for welcoming me to this community that will always be like home to me. I came to central Illinois when I was 17 to begin college and never imagined I'd be here this long.

I can't name you all like Mezydlo did back in the day, but if we ever shook hands, had a conversation, or shared a beer or a hot dog together at some point, thank you.

Marcus Jackson is The News-Gazette's community reporter. Follow him on Twitter (@MarcusJ_NG) or contact him by email (mjackson@news-gazette.com) or phone (217-351-5604).

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):People

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jherma864 wrote on October 12, 2017 at 9:10 am

I must have missed it, but where is Marcus Jackson going? I have enjoyed all his work over the years and listening to him on various WDWS broadcasts. Best of luck wherever the future takes him.

capt80 wrote on October 12, 2017 at 9:10 am

Marcus, I couldn't agree more, life is incredibly short. Best of luck to you.

Lostinspace wrote on October 12, 2017 at 9:10 am

I second that.

Objective Reporter wrote on October 12, 2017 at 11:10 am

In the times I have had the pleasure of speaking with Marcus, he's always been a stand up kind of guy.  In my opinion, he was the best thing the Gazette had going for it.  You'll be missed, Marcus.  Good luck!

ERE wrote on October 12, 2017 at 8:10 pm
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Geez, what a loss for all fans of CU and the Illini nation. Marcus, have much enjoyed your sports and community reporting and your presence on the DWS! All the best to you!

bookworm wrote on October 15, 2017 at 8:10 am

Good bye, Marcus!  You will be missed very much.  I know your gf will be happy to have you in Chicago.  But now without you it’s back to old white men ☹️