I was on the phone with a source during the Fall 2003 semester, discussing a decision Temple had made, which my source said he thought was particularly stupid. Then, he started to talk about other things that annoyed him about the university. Almost as an aside, he said, “Oh yeah, and then there’s that million-dollar condo they’ve got for [then-Temple President] David Adamany.”
I didn’t do the cliché of sitting up straight in my chair in the old news office, but I sure had that feeling. My source had already started to talk about something else, and I interrupted him: “Wait, what condo?”
About six weeks of reporting later, a story headlined “President’s condo: $1.25 million” appeared on the front page of The Temple News. It detailed the board of trustees’ approval of the purchase of a Rittenhouse Square condo in 2001. The board didn’t do it in secret, but it certainly didn’t advertise the decision.
Those six weeks cemented my desire to work at a newspaper. It was the first time I wrote a “big” story. And it was a hell of a lot of fun, getting to annoy someone in power. And while Adamany kept his condo and none of the school officials thought it was a poor use of university funds, I felt better that the students, staff and faculty knew about it.
Newspapers are in bad shape these days, and it’s easy for me to get discouraged about the future. But when I do, I sometimes think back on my time at The Temple News and the handful of “big” stories I was able to write while running a tiny, under funded newspaper out of a grubby corner of the Student Center. If I could do that then, maybe the future is better than it seems. We just have to figure out a way to make that work.