‘Damaged goods’ editor speaks truth to power


Manny De Los Santos

Last spring, Chance was named Kansas Collegiate Media (KCM) journalist of the year. He was just getting started.

When Chance Swaim walks across the stage at graduation, Wichita State’s community will lose the voice of one of its most outspoken and dedicated advocates.

That’s not to say our fearless leader will be universally missed. Rest assured, authority figures with something to hide will let out a collective sigh of relief to see him go.

The truth is a powerful weapon of choice.

With Chance at the helm, The Sunflower has forged its own path this year — demanding accountability and persevering in the face of threats to our very existence as a publication.

Under his leadership, our reporting has raised awareness — empowering people to ask questions they never have and challenging the norms that no one else will. Most recently, our refusal to accept that student fees deliberations should be a private process has sparked new legislation requiring it to be open to the public.

Scoring wins for transparency and accountability is what will define Chance’s legacy at The Sunflower as a brave and tenacious leader with a propensity for truth-telling. Awards are nice too.

Last spring, Chance was named Kansas Collegiate Media (KCM) journalist of the year. He was just getting started.

This fall, The Sunflower took second place in Best of Show at the Associated Collegiate Press conference and won the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government’s 2018 Above and Beyond Award for “courageous reporting,” despite “heavy hostility” and the “lack of transparency” on campus.

Along the way, Chance has done pretty well for himself too — receiving the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence in news and editorial writing and winning the KCM’s copy editing competition and investigative/news and editorial writing categories.

And that’s just what he can fit on his resume.

I could go on with his laundry list of awards, but I would do so at the risk of writing a PR piece. Chance has a distaste for such writing.

It’s not a glamorous lifestyle — whiling away countless nights in the basement of Elliott Hall with nothing to run on but caffeine, eyes squinting in the glare of a computer screen and deadline looming.

That’s not to say it’s thankless work.

The abundance of support and recognition we’ve received this year is humbling, but Chance maintains that the most rewarding part of the job is waking up in the morning to a story he knows will hit home. It’s addictive.

Chance is the poster child of Wichita State’s strategic mission — a byproduct of state-of-the-art applied learning opportunities. The administration should be proud.

He’ll be a tough act to follow — I take over as editor on May 15. The paper will inevitably face adversity next year in building off of this year’s many successes, but Chance has provided me with a shining example of what it means to be a leader, and I know I can rely on him as I find my way.

Some people think of Chance as “damaged goods.” I prefer to think of him as a great friend and the most talented journalist I’ve had the pleasure of working with.