I guess it’s true that only the good die young.
I was driving home yesterday from an editor’s meeting with our new staff for fall when I received a text. I glanced at my phone and read the words: Dan Reimold has died. I was so stunned that I pulled off the next exit and began frantically searching Twitter, and there were the posts coming in.
I sobbed uncontrollably. It just wasn’t possible. But it was.
Dan Reimold has died. At 34.
Classes start on Monday, so I had bribed the new editors with lunch to come in on their last day of summer to prepare for fall. I put together an agenda that included all the new and exciting things we had planned.
Throughout the summer, I read and researched and made notes. As a journalism adviser, I have to keep up on things — to constantly innovate and move forward.
Dan has been a sounding board for our journalism program for as long as I’ve known him. If we had some crazy new idea, Dan would tell us it wasn’t crazy. And if we did something new, Dan wanted to know about it.
He was there for my students, nights, days, weekends — offering feedback and letting them know he cared about not only what they were doing, but as young college students trying to sift through all the noise.
When I told Dan we were moving our newsroom over to medium, his response was, “That’s the coolest idea ever!” When I told him we would be reporting all breaking news on Twitter, he said, “You guys are rockstars.”
In other words, he was an inspiration and he believed in innovation.
I remember once telling him that my student wanted to do a project on Instagram that involved her posting little videos of herself exercising.
I thought it was bit shallow. Dan told me that if she was passionate and excited about it, encourage her to go for it. Follow your passion. Create things. Inspire. Share. That’s what Dan believed.
Two weeks ago, I created and moderated several panels at the AEJMC conference in San Francisco, sponsored by CCJA. Dan was a speaker on two of those panels and could have spoken on any topic, but he chose to showcase college students’ work from across the nation. He loved sharing the work of college students and he did it with pride and a big smile.
He was witty and smart, and his passion infectious. I always found myself creating panels with Dan in mind and he always stepped up to serve as a speaker, year after year. If he’s on a panel, it’s going to be one of the best at the conference. And I get to be on the panel with him which has always been an honor and a privilege.
At this year’s conference, my students presented a session on their move to medium. Dan promoted that panel to everyone who would listen. “Go see Toni and her students; they’re rockstars.” And when he saw my students, he made sure to tell them how proud he was of them. He also told them how he couldn’t wait to see what they were going to do next.
But now he’s gone, and I don’t know what to say to my students. They took it hard. One editor was inconsolable because Dan had made such an impact on his life. Another just wanted to thank him one more time.
Albert Serna, who has served as one of our key editors on Sac.Media and Substance, met, spoke, and was interviewed by Dan multiple times. He said it was a devastating blow to the world of college journalism.
“He was a champion, a hero for college journalists across the nation. He was always supportive of the crazy ideas and plans students had. His late night ‘hack-a-thons’ at conferences fostered dialogue and creativity, while his one-on-one conversations were nothing short of inspirational. On a personal level, I was touched by the amount of faith he had in me and our program.”
Dan wrote an article about us for Nieman Lab that put us on the map. These words written by Dan, “A small editorial team at a two-year school in the Los Angeles suburbs is running one of the most daring, innovative college media outlets in the United States,” have made me more proud than anything ever written. I have put those words in presentations and powerpoints. I’ve used his words to inspire and motivate, to recruit and retain, and to motivate current and future students.
I can’t imagine a conference without him, or not checking his daily wisdom on College Media Matters, or not spending my Sunday evenings on his live chats, or not texting him a new idea. And the hardest thing to grasp is that
I will never see that beautiful smile again.
So all I can say is, thank you, Dan for making me look good, for making us look good, for being our friend and champion, and for inspiring us to always do solid and innovative journalism. Rest in peace.
Editors Note: The staff of Substance, SAC.Media, and SAC On Scene are deeply saddened by the loss of a true pioneer in the world of college journalism. We asked our adviser, Toni Albertson, to write a tribute to him on our behalf. Our condolences go out to his family, friends, his students, staff, and anyone who had the privilege of knowing him.