TPN says ‘so long’ to senior editors

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By The Pitt News Staff

It’s been a long year — though for these editors, time has flown by. We are upset that a certain virus has cut short our time in person, but we are grateful for the memories we made during our time together. TPN is saying goodbye this year to six members of its staff graduating from the editorial board who have all made an impact on the paper and their peers.

Mary Rose O’Donnell was the managing editor and interim visuals editor this year. (Image courtesy of Mary Rose O’Donnell)

Mary Rose O’Donnell, Managing Editor // Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief

Oh managing editor, my managing editor. What a year it has been. I’m not sure what I’d say if someone told me the crew who awkwardly rode the 54 out to the Strip District to write about Klavon’s — my first piece as a staff writer and your first article — would one day lead the paper from our bedrooms through a pandemic.

A TPN veteran, you might hold the record for number of editorial board positions held by a single person. From culture to digital to news to layout and beyond, you bring your trademark style wherever you go. But this year has also really highlighted your ability to get to the heart of issues and work to improve things at the paper for those who come after you — from helping revamp hiring processes to showing someone how to place a jump in InDesign.

I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to work with and lead the paper through an unprecedented year. I’ll miss our kibitzing and kvetching sessions that sometimes go until 3:30 a.m. and the many TikToks. You and I still need to go back to Klavon’s — I remember we wanted to get a celebratory scoop last year when we got these jobs. Let me know when to catch you at the bus stop?

Image courtesy of Leah Mensch

Leah Mensch, Opinions Editor // Dalia Maeroff, Senior Staff Columnist

I cannot believe you are graduating. It breaks my heart that we never got to work in the office together, although now that I think about it, we would have never gotten any work done because we would have been too busy talking about how you didn’t know that black squirrels were a real thing.

As you told me not too long ago — you have been such an unexpected joy in my life. You’re the best roller skating, bean-loving, word nerd boss and friend there ever was. You are one of the most talented writers I know, both on and off the opinions desk. Not only did you help me put my hatred of lawns into words, but you also molded every person on the opinions desk into a better writer. We all know that you would lay down your life for this desk, and you care so much about the well-being and happiness of everyone at The Pitt News and that’s what makes you such a good opinions editor. Typos won’t be as fun without you. We’re gonna miss you, Leag. 

We’ll continue our Frick Park walks in Central Park next year. I have some big shoes to fill. I promise Jack and I won’t burn down the desk by accident. Kill it at NYU and go find your damn beach.

Alex Lehmbeck was the sports editor this year. (Image courtesy of Alex Lehmbeck)

Alex Lehmbeck, Sports Editor // Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor

Alex Lehmbeck was always a brilliant writer and capable reporter. He’s personable, creative and funny, all of which comes across in his writing. But when Alex joined the Editorial Board, I was the experienced one. Despite being the assistant to Alex’s head editor, I expected to have to teach him things, show him the ins and outs of how to be an editor at The Pitt News.

But in practice, I learned more from Alex than I could have ever taught him. Because while technical and procedural knowledge are important parts of doing this job well, the intangible skills Alex possesses were far more important to ensuring that our coverage of sports at Pitt was comprehensive and inclusive of sports and people who had been previously overlooked.

He never shied from a challenge, whether it was writing to meet a tight deadline or a project that would require months of his effort. As a result, his work has reached all corners of the campus, from historic wins in volleyball to demands for change and accountability from Pitt Athletics alumni.

His ingenuity has always shone through, even during the early stages of the pandemic, when sports were almost nowhere to be found.

Alex has been a relentless force as our editor, helping to build a desk that offers a complete picture of the sports landscape around campus. His steady hand and commitment as our sports editor has helped create a desk ready to build upon his work. We’ll miss you, Alex.

Megan Williams was the digital manager this year. (Image courtesy of Megan Williams)

Megan Williams, Digital Manager // Charlie Taylor, Culture Editor

Meggie Wills, as they are affectionately known around TPN, is one of the most gifted writers I know. They also send me absurdist “Hannibal-themed” TikToks in the odd hours of the evening. I thought by now I would have grown accustomed to the onslaught of links filling my inbox, but it’s still an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Whenever I see a new message from Megan, I know exactly what it contains — we have never texted about anything else — and oftentimes, those texts are the only good part of my day.

In all seriousness, besides having a great taste in cannibal-themed psychological thrillers, Megan also has an enduring passion for what they do and a wicked sense of humor, which makes working with them incredibly easy. When they’re not pitting editors against each other in simulated “Hunger Games” scenarios, they’re giving other talented writers a platform to share their stories or giving incredibly well-formulated takes on current events for our weekly editorial. Megan, I’m still a little salty that I never won the Hunger Games, but I’m nonetheless going to miss seeing you on Slack. Please keep sending me TikToks and liking my tweets — yours is the only opinion that matters to me.

Maggie Young was the copy chief this year. (Image courtesy of Maggie Young)

Maggie Young, Copy Chief // Riley Kleemeier, Copy Editor

If you’ve ever wondered what the heck passive voice is, or how to correctly spell “judgment,” Maggie Young is the person to ask. In my two years of working with Maggie, I have asked her at least a million stupid questions, but she has always answered kindly and has never laughed in my face — even though she probably should’ve. She is the exact sort of person you would want as copy chief, especially during a pandemic. Not only does she care about TPN, but she also cares whole-heartedly about each individual member of her staff. Saying goodbye to her is going to be incredibly difficult, to say the least.

Maggie has dedicated a whole lot of time over the years to TPN, whether it be outsmarting us all in AP style or counting paper hats votes. If there were a paper hat for “AP style guru,” I would bestow it upon her. I’m not sure who hired Maggie, but whoever you are, you made the right choice. She is a shining star.

I sincerely hope that I will be able to fill Maggie’s shoes as copy chief, and she can rest assured that I will, in fact, purchase a subscription to the AP stylebook (don’t you worry, Maggie). I will miss her dearly, but I sincerely hope she’s prepared to continue to receive stupid questions from me, long after she’s graduated.

Lydia Chlpka was the audience engagement editor and a copy editor this year. (Image courtesy of Lydia Chlpka)

Lydia Chlpka, Audience Engagement Editor // Jane Patz, Copy Editor

Recently Megan placed Lydia in the “hilarious legend” box of one of their alignment charts. Although COVID-19 cut short our in-person time together, I’d have to agree that those two words pretty accurately embody her. Hilarious is correct — I’ll definitely miss their (mostly SGB-related) Slack messages and memes. Legend checks out, too. Lydia worked as both a copy editor and The Pitt News’ audience engagement editor at the same time. They’ve also somehow balanced a million other things like choir and having two wildly different majors. Neuroscience and music performance? Range. Literally, in the case of the singing. That qualifies as legend behavior to me.

I could always rely on Lydia to show up and do her job, which is all you can really ask of a fellow copy editor. Trusting that the reader before you actually fact-checked every number and name spelling makes everything a lot easier and never went unappreciated. Lydia is smart, hardworking, talented and funny — truly a hilarious legend, and we’ll all miss them at copy desk next year.

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