Bendon: My growth as a reporter and the memories I’ve made along the way


Henry Bendon, Staff Columnist

The first four articles I wrote for The Observer, starting way back in December of 2016, were all about then-president-elect Donald Trump. There were two pieces on campus reactions to the election, and then two marches, the #NotMyPresidentMarch and the Women’s March, both of which I wrote after hours standing in the freezing cold interviewing anyone I could and taking, then deleting, more photos than have ever been printed under my name for this paper. 

My last four pieces read a little differently. My latest piece is about making bread while stuck in quarantine. There are three from before the end times about different restaurants—one on a new coffee place, Blue Sky Brews, which could not have known that it picked the worst time to open a new restaurant, ever, one about the Brewnuts team up with Mitchell’s Ice Cream to make donut ice cream sandwiches that I waited an hour in line for, and one about Slyman’s Deli, which I titled “Slyman’s Deli has a pile of meat you’ve got to eat” and is the only of my stories one of my most respected professors has ever mentioned reading. 

During my study abroad, I was lucky enough to travel around Europe. I did so on the standard college budget, flying exclusively on tickets priced equivalently to a chipotle burrito (with guac) and with extremely minimal packing space. I carried a backpack with a few changes of clothes, a camera, and a copy of The Observer from the fall of 2018, which I took pictures with, in front of pretty much every recognizable building or landmark I could.

Ironically, I didn’t write any articles in that Observer. I chose it instead because the front page ran a photo from the fall concert, which, despite the concert featuring the actual artists Smallpools and MisterWives, was of my band. The picture includes me and Matt Hooke, the current Observer executive editor, and I am credited with having taken it.

This small mix up that I paraded around an entire continent aside, I am incredibly grateful for my time with telling stories for The Observer.  Working for the paper opened doors I didn’t know were available to student journalists. I’ve interviewed a U.S. Senator, taken photos in front of the guard rails at the Agora—I even ended up on a movie set talking to an unnamed actor who has appeared as Spiderman.  

My favorite piece of my entire career, senators and spidermen and all, came just down the street from campus, shadowing the owner of the Fluffy Duck Cafe. The Fluffy Duck is a favorite of mine both for reporting—they were the subjects of our only video piece of the 2019-20 school year—and for a delicious pastry called a Kouign Amann, which everyone ought to go try when we get out of this mess.

My last note, on my way out, would be simply to thank the paper for everything it has allowed me to share. For the last four years once a week I’ve been able to share stories and photos and opinions on everything from tuition hikes to coffee shops. I’ve met and talked to all kinds of great people and told some amazing stories—and I think that some of them even got read.