“Director of the Universe” — as far as job titles go, it doesn’t get much better than that.
During his nine years with that title, however, Steve Fidel has expanded his role to be so much more than just the director of our newsroom. He’s been an advocate for the staff, a mentor, the Brimhall’s unofficial snack source and a friend.
If you know Fidel, you’ve probably heard him talk about his two egos: The Daily Universe brand and the success of his students. After introducing them, he’d always followed it up with, “If one is doing well, so will the other.”
The Daily Universe brand has certainly flourished with Fidel’s direction. He’s overseen the production of 447 print editions of the newspaper and the massive expansion of our online storytelling efforts. Under his leadership, the Daily Universe and its staff have received numerous regional and national awards. Some of the Universe’s biggest stories during Fidel’s time at BYU include a series on catfishing that was picked up by Dr. Phil and more recently the Universe’s extended coverage of the COVID-19 crisis.
But it’s impossible to boil down Fidel’s legacy at the Universe to just the products he helped produced. Yes, his list of accomplishments is full of amazing feats, but it doesn’t capture what may have been Fidel’s most important work at BYU: inspiring others.
Fidel has mentored and worked with hundreds of students both on the Universe staff and through his involvement with classes in the journalism program. Not only has he motivated us to be better journalists, but he is also deeply invested in us as individuals. One minute he’s helping you brainstorm ideas for a story you’re working on, the next he’s giving you life advice and then making you laugh with a dad joke. No matter the question or the issue, you knew you could always trust Fidel with it and that he’d do his best to help you resolve it. And after he was done answering your question, he’d usually follow it up with “What can I do for you?” That example of genuine love and compassion for those around him, and the camaraderie it created, is one of the most lasting consequences of Fidel’s time with the Universe.
Because of the hard work and dedication he put into building up his “two egos,” it’s heartbreaking for our staff to say goodbye as he moves on to head up KSL.com. But that hard work and dedication also mean both egos are in good shape to continue in his absence. Because of Fidel’s faith in us as individuals and as an organization, we’re ready to take on great things.