Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of alumni profiles of former Daily Lobo contributors, in an effort to connect current readers and contributors to the past and present. Continue to follow the Daily Lobo for more.
Damian Garde started his career in journalism at a young age.
He was 15 when he started writing for the Youth Express page for the Albuquerque Journal. Upon starting college in 2006, he knew he had an interest in journalism and decided to apply for the Daily Lobo, he said.
Garde worked at the Lobo throughout his time at the University of New Mexico. He started as a culture reporter and later worked as deputy culture editor, copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief. During his last year at UNM, he held the positions of both copy editor and columnist, he said.
James Montalbano was the writing coach at the Daily Lobo while Garde was part of the staff.
As a reporter, Montalbano described Garde as diligent and thorough, and as an editor, Montalbano said, “I think he’s about as smart as they come.” He also said he is one of the funniest people he knows.
Jim Fisher, the business manager at the time Garde was a staff member, also described Garde as incredibly intelligent and one of the most humorous people he’s met.
Both Montalbano and Fisher said the newsroom functioned well during Garde’s term as editor-in-chief.
Garde was great at asking the right questions and putting things into context, Fisher said. Additionally, he said Garde could “push the envelope” at times and “take things to another level,” all the while being fun to be around and work with.
“Even though (Garde) may have been the smartest one in the room a lot of the time, he (rarely) acted like it,” Montalbano said.
Immediately after graduating from UNM in 2010 with a degree in political science, Garde began looking for work.
“(I did) whatever I could do to make money,” he said, adding that the Albuquerque Tribune had closed, so many journalists worked at the Albuquerque Journal or a TV station.
Instead, Garde freelanced at the Alibi and held other jobs elsewhere.
After a few months, Garde found a job at patch.com, an online publication that aimed to place reporters in towns where there was not a lot of journalism coverage, he said. Later, he worked as a writer and copy editor for Fierce Biotech, a publication that covers pharmaceutical and biotech industry.
In 2015, the Boston Globe launched STAT, a publication covering medical and health sciences. Garde began working there in 2016 and has worked there since, he said.
Garde still credits the Lobo for some of his success as a reporter.
“The Lobo was always there...We always had each other’s backs. It was as sloppy and occasionally idiotic, as anything run by 20-year-olds can be, or ought to be. But that was the most formative education I got...If I am a (good reporter), it is almost entirely a credit to the Lobo for giving me a chance,” Garde said.
Speaking about his role as editor-in-chief, he said, “The terror of you being the final say on things balanced with the incredible exhilaration of you being the final say on things,” has helped him learn a lot in terms of both confidence and humility.
“In all of my memories of the Lobo, I’m not alone for any of them...You’re only as good as your ability to work with the people you’ve selected to do the job you can’t do,” Garde said.
Fisher said Garde would likely shudder at the idea, but he would like to see him “be an effective political leader.”
Montalbano said he hopes Garde feels fulfilled in what he is working on currently.
“I hope (what he is doing is) challenging enough and interesting enough...I really do think he could do just about anything...I kind of don’t think of him as a reporter. I think of him as a writer, a thinker, a social critic. And he may be just punching the clock and paying the bills, doing what he’s doing, and he might have three-quarters of a great novel done, I don’t know. We’ll see,” Montalbano said of Garde.
As far as advice goes for anyone interested in becoming a journalist, Garde said, “At every stage, you just have to do the work. You have to read everything. You have to be realistic about what you’re good at and what you’re not. You have to do the reporting...You just have to be the best at what you do to the best of your ability with the experience you have...The one thing you can control is whether you did more work than someone else.”
When asked about roadblocks, Garde said immaturity could result in someone having preconceived notions — you can do something wrong and have a tantrum or you can move on.
“The more you learn, the more you’re exposed to things, the more you fail at things,” he said. “You just get a little bit better and become a little bit less of a jerk, and eventually, hopefully, you become a good journalist.”
Elizabeth Sanchez is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Beth_A_Sanchez.