In the end, Harvard Law and a partnership with a powerhouse Chicago firm won out. But College of Media grad Paul Veith’s brief stint as a journalist sure was fun while it lasted.
The time: the mid-’80s. The place: the basement of what he remembers as a “relatively nondescript University-owned building on John Street — Illini Hall.”
Veith (Class of ’87) picks it up from here.
“During my college years, Illini Hall was the home of The Daily Illini and ... other stuff, I guess. The DI occupied the basement. Editorial. Advertising. Production. Photography. All of it. In a basement. A glorious basement.
“I worked at the DI all four years — as a sports reporter, columnist, copy editor, night editor and sports editor.
“As a curious freshman, I walked down the stairs after entering at the front of the building, peered around nervously, and then found my way to the back corner of the cramped beehive of the newsroom, where the sports guys hung out. I don’t recall an interview, per se.
“A senior editor asked, ’You wanna write?’ I answered, ’Yep.’ He said, ’OK — go cover an IM basketball game.’
“I did. I awkwardly interviewed a couple of the participants and then trudged back to the DI, settled in at one of the news terminals and wrote a short article. That was all it took to hook me.
“And that cramped, disheveled corner full of sports-loving cynics became my place. My time at the DI came to include covering Illinois basketball and football, among many other sports, sometimes traveling the Midwest in the ‘DI Mobile’ — a clunky white station wagon with the newspaper’s logo on the side.
“The road trips were great fun. But the best nights were the nights at Illini Hall. Writing articles or columns. Editing copy. Designing the pages. Putting together the paper. Racing the deadline. Sitting in the copy setting room patiently waiting for a comically big, slow, clunky machine to spit out strips of type that would be pasted into the ’flats’ that made up the next morning’s paper. Waiting at the refrigerator-sized machine that trickled out wire photographs at a snail’s pace, desperately hoping to have something — anything — to fill the gaping hole somewhere in the sports section that was crying out for an image.
“Illini Hall was the place I met my ‘DI friends’ — as my ‘other‘ friends would call them. Bright, energetic, quirky, funny, talented. I remember them fondly.
“The place — Illini Hall — connected all of us There was nothing luxurious or elegant about it. But we loved it.”