The current experience

Editor-in-Chief Josh Baumbach recounts his four semesters at The Current

When I decided to go back to school after working full-time for a few years, the first class I wanted to take was Introduction to Journalism, also known as JOUR 300. I had always loved writing about topics I cared about, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to see where I was at as a writer.  Little did I know this class would spark something in me. So much so that I would not only declare journalism as my major, but begin a four-semester run on the staff of the American River Current.

Admittedly, I was initially intimidated on my first day at The Current. There were students who had already been on the staff who were talking about the previous semester, and the advisers, Tim Swanson and Jill Wagner, were stressing the importance of hitting deadlines and how the paper would fail if they weren’t met. While it was intimidating from the outside, I quickly realized this was an atmosphere that bred inspiration and growth, not discouragement. I was made a staff writer for the Arts & Culture section, and my new editors had taken me under their wing.

The first semester on staff was such a great experience; and the following semester, I became the editor for the Arts & Culture section. It felt more like a job where I was doing something that I loved, rather than just a class, and that’s how you have to approach it. I may have turned in late assignments or tardily rushed into other classes, but not in this one. There was a sense of disappointment when something was late, and that feeling was worse than any letter grade could give you. After my second semester, I was ready to take the next step. I became the editor-in-chief (EIC).

It became even more like a job when I became the EIC. During every issue, I would have to make decisions and stick with them. There was definitely more stress, but also more payoffs. We won awards and even published a 16-page monster edition, up from our usual 12-page edition. The staff was in-sync and everything just clicked. However, during the middle of the semester, Swanson announced he was leaving.

I learned more from Swanson than any other teacher or professor I’ve ever had. I came back, after some gentle urging, as the EIC again for my fourth and final semester, hoping to help make it a smooth transition. While it has been the most stressful semester, it has also made me realize what the staff is capable of overcoming.

As my time ends at The Current, I think about the amazing people I have met and how much talent we have had each semester. Sure, there were awards and successes we shared, but the friends I have made and great articles I’ve read and photos I’ve seen is what I will miss the most.