As the spring semester begins and students trudge their way through the snow to their first classes, the 42 students of the 135th Board of The Daily Pennsylvanian Inc. are hard at work at 4015 Walnut St., preparing to take on the leadership of the independent student media organization. With the assistance of three professional staff members, the DP’s student leadership board oversees all the operations of the DP Inc., from advertising and circulation to news reporting, photography, and audience engagement.
The new board, led by President and College junior Julia Schorr, consists of editors and managers across three publications: The Daily Pennsylvanian, 34th Street Magazine, and the satire news site Under The Button. The students, who were elected last fall, span all four grades, with 20 juniors, 17 sophomores, four freshmen, and one senior. Eleven members of the incoming board were also on the outgoing board; Schorr was on both the 133 and the 134, making this her third year as a leader at the organization.
College junior and incoming Executive Editor Sarah Fortinsky takes charge of the Editorial Board, which works to produce three print issues and more than 100 pieces of content online every week. She is assisted by seven senior editors: Digital Director Sam Holland, Print Director Ben Zhao, Senior News Editor Maddie Ngo, Senior Sports Editor Theodoros Papazekos, Opinion Editor Isabella Simonetti, 34th Street Editor-in-Chief Annabelle Williams, and UTB Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Beugg.
Ngo, a former beat reporter covering gender and diversity, will work with a team of four news editors to report on issues of traditional importance to the Penn community, from administrative policies, admissions, and mental wellness. This year, however, she also hopes to invest more resources in covering West Philadelphia and connecting the student body to the stories affecting our local community.
Holland, a College junior who formerly led the DP’s multimedia department, takes on a crucial role in leading the digital strategy of all three publications, from their websites to their audience engagement strategy and newsletter products.
Founded in 1885, the DP has produced a broadsheet newspaper for more than 130 years. To embrace a digital-first direction, the organization cut print production from four to two days a week in the spring of 2017. Since then, the DP’s leaders have worked to push the digital mandate by introducing online-only products and refining protocol to make sure information is being delivered to readers faster and in more engaging ways.
“This year, our audience should expect to see more of us,” Holland said. “We have a group of veteran editors who have been around for at least a year, and I have full faith that they are prepared to lead their departments. And when you look at the new people joining us, everyone has really shown that they’re really dedicated to the organization. We’re in a better position now than we’ve ever been to reimagine our strategy from a digital perspective.”
On the business side, former Marketing Manager and College junior Remi Golden will serve as the organization’s new business manager, overseeing a team of five managers to sell advertisements, invest in new projects, and market the DP Inc.’s products on campus and beyond.
There will be a significant company-wide push to expand the DP’s revenue streams this year, Schorr said. Readers can expect new, curated newsletters, including one for Penn sports fans and one designed to inform and help students looking for internships or jobs in the spring semester.
She added that both the editorial and business boards will be working to diversify the DP’s core audience beyond the undergraduate community, pointing to The Weekly Roundup, the organization’s curated newsletter for Penn parents as a step in that direction.
“We have a lot of really talented people on board — people who can make this company even more digital and more relevant to our audience,” she said. “I’m incredibly excited.”
The 135th Board will be formally inducted at the annual DP Banquet this Saturday, Jan. 19.