College junior James Morrison was reelected as the editor-in-chief of Under the Button on the 137th Board of Editors and Managers at The Daily Pennsylvanian. His reelection follows a year filled with unprecedented challenges and growth for the publication.
As an independent satire publication at Penn, UTB has continued launching new digital initiatives and increasing forays into print publication under Morrison’s leadership. Morrison will be supported by College junior Scott Newman and College sophomore Megan Striff-Cave as senior editors and College junior Grace Ginsburg as managing editor. His new internal board leadership team will be rounded out with College junior Joseph Elston as video editor and College sophomore Alicia Lopez as audience engagement editor.
Morrison, from Pipersville, Pa., has been a member of the DP since his first year at Penn in 2018 as an opinion columnist and 34th Street Magazine contributor before arriving at UTB. Currently studying philosophy, politics, and economics and English, Morrison intends to attend law school after graduation with a particular interest in civil rights law.
As editor-in-chief, Morrison coordinated the launch of UTB’s first regular weekly newsletter, continued to introduce interactive content formats such as quizzes, and formed a broader coalition of comedy groups at Penn to recruit new members. Morrison said he was proud to maintain regular output despite difficult circumstances.
“[I was] glad we kept content up during COVID-19 even when it’s pretty hard to do comedy with the world falling apart around you,” said Morrison. “Hopefully, next semester we’ll be able to connect more digitally and in person since more people will be on campus.”
Newman, a history major from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., noted the publication’s success in recruiting new members through a completely online format, but also emphasized his goal of increasing staff diversity during his term.
“I would want to ensure that UTB is representative of numerous perspectives and backgrounds,” said Newman. “Comedy has to keep step with a certain pace of social change if it is to play any meaningful role in public discourse. My imperative as senior editor would be making sure that is the case.”
Striff-Cave, a history major from West Hartford, Conn., said while the pandemic has changed many aspects of UTB, the current situation has also “inadvertently forced us to shift our efforts towards our digital presence … [and] to experiment with new segments and types of content.”
Morrison, Striff-Cave, and Newman all mentioned the persisting challenges of boosting staff morale and maintaining a traditionally close-knit UTB community after a demanding year. All, however, are motivated to improve a publication that has become their unique space in the Penn community.
"I genuinely think that being a part of UTB is what kept me sane through the chaos of this past year," said Morrison. "In such challenging times, it’s incredibly rewarding to bring a little bit of laughter back into people’s lives. Im so excited for what sort of shenanigans we as a [publication] get up to next."