I like to frame articles by describing images that represent overarching themes of the story.
When I think of The Daily Pennsylvanian, I see a certain editor tap dancing down the hall with a Hey Day cane, after we finally got a key source on the record for a student government story — none of us knew he could do that.
I remember shivering in an alley in Old City with a group of protestors who were dead set on ending mountain top removal.
Or maybe the image I remember most is of a dining hall worker, brow furrowed, spreading a stack of healthcare bills across his dining room table, while he told us he did not make enough to support his ailing wife.
I missed most of Spring Fling my sophomore year to cover that story, and I don’t regret it. In terms of fuel, The Daily Pennsylvanian runs on the dedication of its staff. Improbably, a core group of full-time students run an independent media company in their spare time. We press University officials for answers when their public relations department blocks access. We uncover important documents that tell the real story of mental health at Penn. We pound the pavement, hocking ads so that the lights stay on and printing presses continue to run. We design stand-alone websites and interactive graphics because in 2015, The DP is so much more than six columns of text, available in your College House lobby. It all has to be done every night before 1:30 a.m., when the paper MUST go to press. And then we do it all again tomorrow.
It’s a huge opportunity for hands-on experience in reporting and media. In my hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., we have an expression: “It is what it is.” Usually paired with a shrug, it means accept life at face value and move on. The Daily Pennsylvanian taught me that there is usually more to the story. I’d like to thank Sarah, Will, my editor Huizhong and everyone else who gave me the tools to dig for those answers.
The DP can be completely consuming: A real full-time job. Long before Mark Zuckerberg traded Cambridge for California, many a DP editor skipped class, got the story and launched their career. “If they had a shower here, I would live here,” one advertising manager used to say. And we do it all for the love of the work and our dreams of one day landing on the front page of The New York Times (or the next big thing in online media that we will invent.)
The Daily Pennsylvanian also has a tendency to chew up and spit out its staff. All those sleepless nights and missed classes come at a cost. Of the DP alums I’ve had the privilege to meet, many told a story about how the paper did not appreciate their time or their work. To the DP editors of the future: Do your best work. Challenge yourself. Value the contributions and ideas of your coworkers. Elections should not destroy friendships. Teamwork makes the dream work.
I’d like to give a shout out to Harry, a fantastic coeditor, even though he’s from Queens. Thanks to Kat, Steven and the whole DPOSTM office, for being an oasis on particularly horrendous nights. Most of all, I’d like to thank my former beat reporters — Bookyung, Brenda, Cassidy, Fola, Jessica, Kristen, Laura, Lauren and Yueqi — for their intrepid reporting. And thanks to my parents — I really didn’t skip that many classes, honest.
My favorite image of my time at the DP is of friends, sitting in the Blue Room, laughing at the end of another night of production.
FIONA GLISSON is a College senior from Brooklyn, N.Y. She is a former news editor and staff reporter for The Daily Pennsylvanian. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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