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Our Father's Day stories: I'll see you in the papers

Nicole Cobler
Nicole Cobler, now a business and technology reporter, reads a newspaper with her dad, Chris Cobler, who is also a journalist. [COBLER FAMILY PHOTO]

My dad has been writing about me for my entire life.

There was that time I was born, that time I got into a car crash, that time I moved out, that time I graduated from college.

He's the editor and publisher of the Victoria Advocate — a fact that I used to dance around when applying to journalism jobs or talking about my career with friends. I didn’t want to seem like I was copying my dad, and I certainly didn’t want to seem like I needed any help getting ahead.

But it’s hard to hide. My dad shaped me into the person I am today. He changed my diaper on his desk during election night; he wowed me with the roar of the printing press; he taught me the best spots in a newsroom for hide-and-go-seek.

Most of all, he showed me how powerful it can be to tell people’s stories and care so deeply about your community.

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I used to sigh when I’d watch him on his phone, typing away as he responded to a reader about a story or helped a subscriber get a newspaper that wasn't delivered that morning. I remember sitting on a beach in Oregon, frustrated that he wasn’t giving us his undivided attention but unaware that a dozen people were killed in a one-vehicle wreck outside of Victoria. My dad was making sure our community would get the news.

I still love to remind him that the constant messages are probably a contributor to his lack of sleep, but I know he can’t help it. My dad always strives to get it right, and he’s on a mission to remind his community that journalists aren’t the enemy of the American people.

Now, it’s easy to understand as a professional reporter. It’s a stressful career, and I know the feeling of being unable to sleep because I’m anxious about a big story.

But I’ve never second-guessed the career I’ve chosen, the career that my dad showed me can be exciting and draining and endlessly rewarding.

When I was a student journalist at the University of Texas, I called him in tears realizing I had an hour to get to the office and file my first story. He calmed me down and reminded me that I was fully capable. He was right — my story made the next day’s front page.

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I’ve long since shaken off that feeling of embarrassment for following in my dad’s footsteps. I’m proud to be part of this industry with him, and I feel lucky that my mentor is also my dad.

I still tear up when I read the column he wrote as managing editor at the Denton Record-Chronicle after I was born: “I am sure I am not prepared for what lies ahead — your first difficult night, your first step, your first day of school and certainly not your first date. I hope it all turns out as beautiful as you.”

There are days when I don’t feel prepared for what lies ahead, either. There’s always news to chase and sources to talk to. Our industry is changing by the minute. But the one constant has been my dad, who always reminds me that I know exactly what I’m doing.

Nicole Cobler is a business and technology reporter at the American-Statesman. This is part of a series of our staff's personal Father's Day stories.