DE says farewell and good luck to adviser of 16 years

By Gus Bode, Staff Reporter

Editor’s note: He isn’t dead.

Updated 8/3/2020 at 5:07 p.m.

The Daily Egyptian is saying goodbye to its faculty adviser and managing editor of 16 years. 

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Eric Fidler, announced his decision to retire via Twitter on July 31. He plans to stay at the DE until Sept. 1. 

Fidler is leaving the DE to homeschool and care for his daughter Maddy.

“She needs someone to not just juggle all of her medical appointments, but to push her and be there for her all the time,” Fidler said. “I can’t do that and work too.”

Fidler was always there to help a reporter or editor look over a story, think of a quippy headline and he was there to crack a joke to countless editors and reporters on the verge of a mental breakdown.

He always had some kind of instrument in his office and could occasionally be heard blasting super old music or playing his mandolin. He was always quick to judge the staff’s ukulele skills and music taste

Fidler said before he began working as the adviser to the DE, he had no idea there was such a thing as a college media adviser. 

“But what a great gig it’s been. I’ve worked with some of the smartest, most interesting people I’ve ever known over the last 16 years,” Fidler said. “I am constantly in awe of you guys. To see former students out in the world doing good, whether in journalism or not is just so fucking rewarding. I’ve learned so much from my students.”

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Fidler would often fix problems with print, a story, or some issue on staff without the rest of SIU ever finding out, it was as if an occult hand just solved the problem out of nowhere.

Seth Richardson, who graduated from SIU in 2014 and is the chief political reporter for The Plain Dealer and http://cleveland.com, said it is hard to put into words how much Fidler helped him during his time at the DE.

 “There’s a reason so many of us keep in contact with him to this day,” Richardson said. “I can’t imagine I’d be anywhere close to where I am currently without his tutelage.”

Anyone can write but Fidler teaches you how to be a reporter, Richardson said. 

“I remember when I started at the DE I was pretty nervous. I’d done interviews and such before but never really worked a beat or anything like that. Eric helped me sniff out stories in places I never would have even thought to look. He taught me to not take guff from somebody just because they’re in a position of power,” Richardson said. “He’s a reporter first and foremost, and that’s what made his guidance so vital.”

Athena Chrysanthou, the DE’s Editor-in-Chief 2017-2018, said Fidler’s door was always open for advice.

“His unprecedented experience and consistent support is what drove me to make the newsroom better everyday. The DE would not be the newsroom it is now without him,” Chrysanthou said. “His words and wisdom is something that I carry very close with me in my career following the DE, and it’s his advice I think of when making hard choices that are faced every day as a journalist.”

Abbey La Tour, a DE staff member who graduated from SIU in 2019 and is a copy editor and paginator at the News-Enterprise,  said she can’t imagine the DE without him.

“Fidler always was there for the J school students but especially DE staffers,” La Tour said. “Whether that was to teach you something by telling a story from his past experiences; listen to you rant or cry when you were stressed about classes, the DE or your future; give advice on the best places to eat in town; bring his dog in to make us smile; and of course edit your work.”

La Tour said he was the only person who’s advice really mattered to her when she accepted her first journalism job.

Tyler Davis, a 2016 graduate and former EIC at the DE, said Fidler was and continues to be a tremendous resource for him as a young journalist.

“His experience as a reporter and editor helped me, and dozens of others, know this is exactly what I want to do, and I thank him for that,” Davis said.

Fidler said this is not the way he had hoped to leave.

 “But it’s the way it is. I’ll miss that newsroom and I’ll be cheering for its inhabitants,” Fidler said.

Staff Reporter Gus Bode can be reached at 1-618-536-3329, or by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @dailyegyptian.

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