Opinion: A tearful farewell from The State Hornet’s editor in chief

State Hornet veteran Jordan Parker says some parting words after six semesters


Dominique Williams

Jordan Parker smiles from ear to ear in his graduation garb on Sunday, April 17, 2022 at Sacramento State. Parker’s grin has lifted the spirits of The State Hornet for the past three years as we determined our role during the pandemic, according to several of its staff and editors.

Jordan Parker, Editor in Chief

When The State Hornet’s faculty adviser Stu VanAirsdale called to offer me the position of editor in chief, I screamed “Oh my f-cking god” into the speaker and jumped for joy like a little kid.

Two hours prior, I had been sitting in front of the 15-person publication board, pitching my ideas for how to lead the organization forward. It seems like it was only yesterday that all of this happened.

A few weeks later, I wrote in a letter from the editor that my two biggest goals were to expand the diversity of the staff and editorial board and increase our coverage of underrepresented communities.

Being the first Black editor in chief of this historic organization (as far as I know) was difficult and I joke sometimes that it felt like I was Obama but that pressure was real. I wanted to make the experience an inclusive one and wanted to make sure that voices we hadn’t heard before were heard.

I’m proud to say that we made historic progress on both of my goals. My editorial board consisted of 9 Black editors during my term as well as editors from the LatinX, Native American/Indigenous, and AAPI communities.

From August until the middle of this semester, every section on The State Hornet went from below 45% coverage of underrepresented communities up to 60% and above on those same communities, which is thanks to many editors and staff who took my diversity initiative seriously.

I branded it as the most important issue of my term, and I’m proud to have made the progress we made.

Now, it’s time to say goodbye to The State Hornet; many laughs, tears, joys, frustrations and 88 bylines later.

I don’t like goodbyes. Who does?

When I joined this organization in Fall 2019, I had a totally different vision for where I wanted this to take me. For starters, I never thought I’d spend the majority of my college career here.

“Let’s just get this out of the way now” I said to myself when signing up for Journalism 197; the class that allowed me to become a part of The State Hornet.

Everything I had been through up to that point: questioning whether I belonged in journalism, being rejected for two different editor positions, having to carry the burden of being one of the only Black staff members, a worldwide pandemic, and so much in-between.

Yet, here I am.

I immediately got to work hiring the fall semester’s editors and creating a plan for how I wanted everything to go. Spoiler: Not much really went the way I wanted it to.

I endured a rough first semester as editor in chief. The pandemic had (reasonably) taken a toll on The Hornet’s staff and editors. There just wasn’t the same fire as in previous semesters on the paper.

Ultimately, it was up to me as a leader to inspire them, and for the most part I feel like I failed in that regard. It seemed at times like I had to drag the whole organization forward but I didn’t know how to do that and kept making mistakes along the way.

The semester wasn’t all bad though, we had award-winning football coverage, told Sacramento State President Nelsen that he should resign, heard from Black faculty members about their experiences with racism on campus and won the Innovation Pacemaker Award, one of the equivalents to a Pulitzer Prize for college journalism.

Over winter break, I was in the airport in Orlando when a rush of energy came over me to write down my ideas for the following semester. There, in that terminal, was born what I like to call my vision for the second semester. I didn’t really show it to anyone; I opened it up a few times during the semester and steered the organization according to where I felt it needed to go.

Needless to say, this spring semester has been remarkable. I finally got to attend my first Associated Collegiate Press conference with my closest friends, where The State Hornet took home five awards and showed that it’s still the same powerhouse to be reckoned with that I always knew it was.

The awards were a cherry on top for a trip that allowed me to interact with some of my staff and editors on a deeper level to form long-lasting friendships.

We put together the return of “quadcast” with Sac State’s premier radio station KSSU, and one of our most energetic staff members, Laura, helped hunt down students to be guests on the podcast to make sure all of our efforts were successful.

Did I mention the Best of Sac State campaign we absolutely crushed? Together as a TEAM, The State Hornet put together the most ambitious and comprehensive Best of Sac State poll and coverage ever seen in the organization’s history, which wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of many staff and editors. If you haven’t checked it out, what are you doing?

Now, as I enter my final week in this role, I have some thank yous to dole out.

To the editors who guided me that have since moved on to the professional world, thank you, your guidance and willingness to raise the next generation of State Hornet journalists will never be forgotten.

There were my spring 2022 editors, who I can’t thank enough for these past few months; without you, I don’t know where I’d be. I’m so happy I can look around at each and every one of you and say I built a bond I won’t forget.

To my copy and approval team, Zach, Dominique, Odin and Magaly. Thank you for going through the process of getting stories ready for publication, even when it felt like a million things were coming in at once.

To my editors from the fall semester: thank you. Times weren’t easy then, but no other group could handle what we handled, specifically the difficulties in returning during a worldwide pandemic.

To the audience: thank you for reading and interacting with my work; it means more than you know. Thank you for providing feedback about how this organization can improve.

To Nijzel, who stepped up to the challenge of being one of my managing editors in the fall, thank you. Not only did I appreciate you standing by my side from the beginning of my term, but I have appreciated your friendship and advice throughout these past six semesters.

Stu, if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be the journalist I am today. Thank you for constantly pushing me to be the better and thank you for your countless hours of advice whether it was in your office or at Temple. Sorry if I annoyed you with dumb questions.

Last, but certainly not least, thank you to Magaly, this last semester’s managing editor who also served as co-managing editor in the fall, for guiding me all those semesters ago in the opinion section to help me become a better writer.

Thank you for your organization, innovation and determination you brought every day on the job, which I couldn’t go without and for always believing in me as a leader when I wasn’t sure if I was doing a good job. Beyond being my partner in the newsroom, thank you for being my best friend and partner in life, and words can’t describe how much I love you.

These past six semesters have meant everything to me. I always joke that I love this organization with all my heart, but truly, I do.

The State Hornet not only provided me an outlet for my work but gave me the family that I needed in college. I will always stand and support from near or afar this great media organization that I believe is the best in the country.

Next for me? I’m off to the San Francisco Chronicle to become a breaking news intern.

Until next time.

Jordan Parker, 73rd State Hornet editor in chief (2021-2022)