By Matthew Orso
The Pioneer Times student newspaper will hold its final meeting for the year on Tuesday. Our writers have worked hard this year to provide William Paterson University students, faculty and staff with news, stories and a paper that provides the facts. No one can ask anything more from a media outlet, for facts are the founding principle on which all good journalism stands.
This meeting will be a somber one, at least for my own point of view. It will be the last one I attend as managing editor. I will be graduating at the end of the month. I look forward to starting my career and am fortunate to have a job lined up with a great company that I’ve been working part-time for during the last three years. My future is bright and I can’t wait to meet it head on.
However, I will miss every moment I spent at the Pioneer Times. I wrote articles for the newspaper at the start of my sophomore year. I was then told by Dr. Tina Lesher that the paper needed editors for the upcoming semester. Lesher, now retired, was a professor of journalism in the communication department. At the time she was my professor for COMM. 2500 (Journalism). I told her I’d be interested. As it turns out – for whatever reason God had in mind – I became editor-in-chief.
My tenure lasted one semester. It was rewarding experience to learn firsthand from Lesher about the nuances of running a newspaper. We put out eight editions during that semester and I am proud of each one. My favorite moment was getting to cover the Super Bowl media day at MetLife Stadium. Lesher was able to get us tickets to the event. This was the Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. The managing editor at the time, Amir Ismael; Danielle Romano, a former editor-in-chief of the Pioneer Times and then graduate assistant; staff writer (and future editor-in-chief) Steven Scafidi and I attended the event. We all had a great time listening to the interviews conducted by journalists at the event. We felt a hunger inside us that made us want to become the best journalists we could be.
I had many great times as editor-in-chief between creating newspapers, doing interviews, and making lifelong friends. I stepped down because I had a lot of work coming up that needed my attention. I couldn’t do the newspaper justice by staying on in that capacity. Monica DuFour, our layout editor, became the next editor-in-chief. There was no one more qualified for the job as she saved the newspaper countless times with her remarkable skills as layout editor. I could never have been editor-in-chief without her being our layout editor. She was (and always will be) one of the best layout editors in the history of the Pioneer Times.
I stayed on staff as an editor and staff writer, though I eventually returned as managing editor. I served under three amazing editor-in-chiefs: DuFour, Scafidi and our soon to be graduating editor-in-chief, Jessica Toscano. Each one taught me something different about writing and about life. Toscano especially taught me how to lead others. I’ve never met a college student who can command respect as well as she. I will hold on to those lessons from her and the others for the rest of my life and will never forget what they taught me.
I want to thank two people especially for everything they’ve done for me while I’ve been with the newspaper; Lesher and Professor Elizabeth Birge, an associate professor of journalism in the communication department.
Lesher is the best journalism professor I have ever had. She is the biggest reason why my writing is where it is. She taught me so much- from “not wrong, but not strong”- to not settling for less than perfection. She inspired me to become a better writer. Some people thought Lesher was a scary professor. I may have thought that at first. However, that is not the case at all. She deeply cared for her students and hoped for their success. I can never thank her for all she’s done for me.
Birge is a wonderful person who’s taught me so much about the newspaper world. She’s been a longtime advisor for the Pioneer Times and is one of the main reasons the newspaper exists to this day. I’ve learned to always reread everything. She has a knack for catching mistakes. However, she explains the mistakes perfectly to students and teaches us how to become better writers. Of course, perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from her is that Diet Pepsi trumps Diet Coke every day of the week. All kidding aside, I’ve learned much from her and cannot thank her enough for everything she’s done for me and this newspaper.
So, this is it. I say goodbye to the Pioneer Times. Caitlin Sawicki will be taking over the leadership role at the newspaper. The paper – its readers and future – will be in safe hands.
Thank you for everything. The newspaper, like my memories of WPU, are a treasure.
And always will be.