On Feb. 11, we thought we had already reached the end. The Daily Pennsylvanian was in flames: We had no Wi-Fi and could not connect to our servers, so no one had any idea of how we were going to put out a newspaper that night. And as far as we knew, such a breakdown had never happened before. Like every other board that takes charge at the DP, our biggest fear was failing to do our most basic job — putting out a product at the end of the night. We did not want to be the first group in living memory to leave the newsracks empty the next day.
When campus woke up the next morning, though, there was a paper in Huntsman Hall. And in Harnwell College House. And everywhere else it was expected to be. And there, on Locust Walk, was someone calling out for the masses to grab a copy of the latest DP.
Pulling this off was a near miracle. There was Jill, running around in a frenzy, hoping that our lack of Wi-Fi didn’t mean we would have to return to the ancient days of set type. Katherine was in her own office, staying much later than I’d ever seen, on the phone with the printer well after our deadline. There was Eric, back from a dinner date to try to do everything he could to fix the network. There was Alex, leading a gaggle of 34th Street editors carrying desktop computers to the Radian to finish the next day’s issue of Street, and Paola ushering the copy team to Rodin to take advantage of AirPennNet. There was Analyn, with internet restored to one small part of the office, leading the design and photo teams in finally putting together the paper’s layout well past three in the morning.
All of this effort would have been irrelevant without the contents of the paper: the many articles written by our amazing news and sports reporters and columnists. The Valentine’s Love Notes that hundreds of students had submitted, painstakingly collected by Megan and the marketing team, waiting to reach their recipients. And the ads that our customers were counting on us to deliver to the eyes of the Penn community.
There will always be times in the life of a modern student news organization — especially one that still goes to print four days a week — when things are like this: chaotic, desperate and urgent. But thanks to the brilliance and dedication of the students who commit so much of their time and their selves to this organization, most days aren’t. On those days, we were able to do incredible things, from reorganizing the entire structure of 34th Street to creating an internal consulting team to publishing engaging online features.
As the end of the reign of the 131st Board of Editors and Managers draws ever closer, I find myself thankful for the memories and bonds formed during the chaotic days. But I’m even more thankful for the good days and all that we managed to accomplish together.
MATT MANTICA is the outgoing president and executive editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He is a College senior from Okemos, Mich., studying urban studies and political science. His email is email@example.com.
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