Where USF faculty, students and graduates are invited to talk about journalism and its problems and opportunities. This blog is not affiliated with the University of San Francisco, nor is the university responsible for any of the opinions expressed herein -- though it is certainly responsible for the people who entertain those opinions, having educated them. They make us proud.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
I was an intern at Wired, my first job after graduating. To get an internship at one of the most cutting-edge and progressive publications in the world was more than I could ever dream of, but to have worked with some of the smartest and nicest people in the industry was absolute icing on the cake. Bill was the deputy editor, which means he basically did everything. Bill top-edited the entire magazine, making sure that all the copy was consistent and had a singular voice. Bill was the voice of Wired. Chances are Bill would rewrite your work, but he didn't do it because he was mean or your work sucked (well, sometimes it probably did suck). He made your work sound 100X better and smarter than what you turned in. And I'm proud to say that my clips from Wired has a bit of Bill in them. I was also scared of Bill. If he ever had to come to your desk to ask you a question, especially if it was a research/fact-checking related one, you better have the right answer for him or get it to him asap. No matter how thoroughly researched or fact checked an article was when it reaches his desk, he'd find new things. But what seemed like a nuisance at the time has helped shaped me into the researcher that I am today (I hope). People at Wired, Bill being one of them (along with Bob, Sonia, Jeremiah, Stuart, Jason, Evan, Rebecca, Eric, Jennifer, Jessie, and probably 20 more people I'm drawing a blank on), was the reason why I decide to venture out to NYC and continue working with magazines. To this day I have not met anyone with the skill, wit, knowledge, humor, and caliber that Bill had. All I've met are douchebags who wishes they could be what Bill was.
But Bill was a wonderful man outside of the office. I remember him having the energy to party, and he was a fun person to be around. One night, after celebrating an issue close, Bill continued the party at a park near the Castro Safeway on Market Street. It was just the men of Wired, rushing into Safeway to buy as many beers as possible before the 2 a.m. deadline kicked in. We drank beers at the park like high school boys, messing around, doing absurd stuff, and being loud until the sprinklers turned on. Bill was one of the few people who ever gave me a nickname, "Two-Fisted Shu." How forward-looking of him, as anyone who knows me today knows that that is a very appropriate nickname. It seemed like Bill knew more about me at the time than I knew myself.
Bill died of a heart failure while running in the marathon in San Francisco. He is the first fatality in the marathon's history. This is an absolute shock because Bill was so fit and healthy when I knew him. He would come into the office early just to go running before he started work (but not before downing three bottles of Odwalla), and he was a hard worker (perhaps too much). He had already left Wired before his death, but he was very much the soul of Wired.
I lost touch with Bill after moving to NYC. After a few e-mail exchanges during my first year after Wired we didn't talk much, but I had him as a reference and I always thought of him, especially when anybody talks about Wired. It's sad that I only think of him now when he's no longer with us.
I'm sure my comments are nothing compared to those from people he's worked closer with, but he did make a difference in my career and my life. I hope I become as good of a journalist as Bill was, and I hope I get to work with someone like him again.