You’ll always be present, Eric.

I met Eric Janssen when I was just a baby digital journalist staring at three monitors — one for editing content in the newspaper CMS, one for editing content in the web CMS, and one for everything else. The room we worked in had no windows. It was for digital operations, but it smelled like old newspapers.

Our editor was the former photo editor. He knew nothing about the Internet and was as honest and humble as can be about it. Eric and I loved Dennis.

Times were dark in The Commercial Appeal newsroom. There were “black Fridays,” but on those black Fridays there was no shopping. The newsroom was filled with black balloons. If it was your last day at work, you would be escorted to your desk to pick up your belongings.

The environment in our little closet was quite different. Eric filled the room with music (loud at times — just ask David Waters), ideas, curiosity and positive energy.

Eric invited me to explore my own creativity and let me know it was OK to open a door to the unknown. He did this for a lot of people. He allowed us all to be explorers.

For the 50th anniversary of rock ’n’ roll, Eric encouraged me to go to the reunion celebration at Sun Studio in Memphis, where I shot video for the first time. He helped me edit the video, then we created a fancy interactive to celebrate the anniversary. We used Flash, of course: It was 2004, after all.

A little over a year later, I was finishing up graduate school and heading back to D.C., where I had landed my dream job at The Washington Post. Eric was the reason I had the guts to make this move. And, even though I moved miles away, Eric and I remained friends, living in separate cities, but never disconnected.

Part of Eric will always be present in my life, but I am going to miss so much about him. I downloaded Eric’s 2309 Instagrams yesterday and today I went through them all. This finally got my head clear enough to write. The photos were a reminder of how full his life was and what I loved most. Some of those things I wanted to share with you.

His smile and laugh.

(Credit: Eric’s Instagram)

His city — Memphis.

Eric always said his heart was in California but he loved his city. Memphis was home. (Credit: Eric’s Instagram)

My city — NYC.

Eric was beyond excited before his helicopter flights in NYC. At the end of his 10 day trip this July he told me he finally got it and was ready to move to the West Village. We would of been great neighbors. (Credit: Eric)

Good IPA.

The Old Rabbit Club was a speakeasy around the corner from my place in NYC. Eric liked to go there because of the craft beer selection. Cash only. (Credit: Eric’s Instagram)


Last time we were together, Eric listed all of the comedians he had seen. It was a long, long list. (Credit: Eric)

“Trust Me” menu at Sugarfish.

If you’ve been to Santa Monica with Eric, you’ve been to Sugarfish. (Credit: Eric)

Those t-shirts from UnknownArtistApparel.

When Eric came to NYC in May he played chess with a friend from Europe. I can’t remember her name, but she was awesome, and Eric made a special trip to NYC because she was in town. I hope she reads this and says “Hi.” (Credit: Eric’s Instagram)

In-n-Out Burger.

(Credit: Eric)


Family wasn’t exactly a straight line for Eric but it was always the number one priority. His love was strong and unconditional. (Credit: Eric)

Finding beauty in abandonment.

(Credit: Eric)

Live a Great Story.

I still remember the first Instagram meetup Eric went to in NYC. He was so excited, yet, oddly a bit unsure of what to expect. He loved it, and clearly it was life-changing. (Credit: Eric)

Cat whisperer.

Eric was my cat sitter when I was away from NYC. He watched Madison and even helped me perform surgery on her one time — pulling out an ingrown toenail! (Credit: Me)


Every year Eric attended the Online News Association annual conference. You may have met Eric in LA, Denver or just a few weeks ago in DC. This picture is from the Instagram booth in LA. We were already making plans for ONA18 in Austin. (Credit: Computer at ONA15)

Design thinking and prototyping.

Eric hired me for a week during my Gannett furlough in 2009. I went back to The Commercial Appeal and did a design thinking workshop with his team. He was constantly looking for new ways to think about journalism. (Credit: Me)

Beach days.

A lot of hours were spent in this very spot in Santa Monica. (Credit: Eric)

Blinding beach sunsets.

This was an incredible sunset. There were so many sunsets. (Credit: Eric)

Two slices and a diet Snapple from Joe’s.

When Eric came to visit NYC he would drop his bags and then say, “Pizza?” Joe’s Pizza was his favorite. He always ordered two pepperoni slices and a diet Snapple. Never deviate. (Credit: Eric)

Make the most of every moment.

That time Eric and I rode Radiator Springs Racer at Disneyland over and over to get the perfect thrill photo. (Credit: Computer at Disneyland)

The Memorial Service for Eric Janssen’s life will be at 2 p.m., Sunday Oct. 22 at Hope Presbyterian Church in Memphis. A gofundme was established to help with the financial burden of the three wonderful, smart children Eric left behind to do their own exploring. Please consider helping them live as great of a story as Eric has. Donate here.

Love you Eric.