After years of leading, teaching and guiding the Indy staff to produce Clark’s student newspaper, Indy advisor Dee Anne Finken and writing coach Jim Camin are retiring at the end of this quarter.
Clark hired Finken nine years ago as the Indy advisor and Journalism department head. At the time, she was the only journalism-oriented staff member.
“[It was] me, myself and I,” Finken said.
She brought a lifetime of news experience to the Indy, with previous freelance reporting for Community College Week, the Society of Women Engineers and advising at the University of Portland. Finken also worked at the Oregonian, the Fresno Bee and Sacramento Bee, and as communications manager for Kaiser Permanente.
“The Indy wasn’t very structured … it was an undeveloped program,” Finken said about her first impressions of the student-led paper. “I had a division chair and a dean who really helped me build the program.”
She said they added courses and created the student media advisory committee.
Finken said that her years with the Indy have been challenging and rewarding. She said she’s proud of where the Indy is now and hopes it will continue to be the quality publication that she’s watched evolve.
“It used to be a broadsheet … we didn’t have much of an online presence,” Finken said. “About three years ago we went into that format of the magazine with better paper; we brought the printing on-site.”
“I’ve gone through a lot of tears,” Finken said about leaving.
“I know that I’ve taught students; they’ve taught me,” she said. “It’s been darn hard work.”
Protecting the Indy has been one of Finken’s major roles.
Former dean of BEECH Ray Korpi would visit class and explain the Indy’s situation.
She recounted Korpi saying, “you guys have a tough job, if people in other classes make mistakes no one knows about it. Unless they’re in the chemistry lab and they mix the wrong chemicals and they blow up the lab, that’s the only other time. But here, everybody sees your mistakes.”
Finken said she’s confident in the strength of the program she’s built and is leaving behind. She looks forward to spending time with her family and writing personal projects during retirement.
“I’ve learned a lot and I’m ready for the next adventure,” she said. “This has been my life for nine years … I’ve worked long hours like most dedicated faculty do, and I worry about all of you guys … I have given a lot and it’s been good, but, it’s time.”
Camin, who was Finken’s line editor at the Oregonian 10 years ago, has been coaching students as they write stories for seven years.
When Finken taught at the University of Portland, Camin occasionally lectured, doing the same when she moved to Clark. He eventually became the official volunteer writing coach.
“I wouldn’t have come aboard if Dee Anne wasn’t also interested in promoting and insisting on ethical, responsible journalism,” Camin said. “This was a rare opportunity. I know her and I know her standards, I know how high they are. I think that’s why I was so eager to join.”
Camin described his role at the Indy as multi-purposeful. “We have discussions not only about writing and reporting, but sometimes about how stories are displayed,” Camin said.
He said he hopes the Indy continues in the same style it does now.
“I’m confident that there’s a good foundation,” he said.
In the early years, Camin said, the publication was less responsible. Story choices were scattered, unpredictable and largely unimportant.
From there, he said, he’s observed only growth.“It’s been fun, It’s been exhilarating.”