TPN says goodbye to graduating editors


TPN File Photo

The Pitt News box outside the Cathedral of Learning.

By The Pitt News Staff

After a year of covering everything from Young Gravy’s performance at Bigelow Bash to various protests on campus to the Backyard Brawl, the school year is officially coming to a close. We couldn’t have managed to put out these stories if it weren’t for the hard work and dedication of our editorial board that spent many late nights in The Pitt News office. And with graduation just around the corner, we’d like to especially give our graduating editors a formal goodbye and say thank you for all that they have contributed to make The Pitt News what it is. Regardless of where they end up after graduation, we wish them all the best!

Rebecca Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Pitt News. (Image courtesy of Rebecca Johnson)

Rebecca Johnson, Editor-in-Chief // Betul Tuncer, Managing Editor

Rebecca was the first person I met at The Pitt News. She hired me as a writer for the news desk and just two years later convinced me to be her managing editor for the 2022-23 school year. Never would I have imagined that the editor that trained me over zoom back in 2020 would now be a great friend. 

Rebecca is one of the most dedicated, hardworking and overall happy people I know. She’s a great reporter and always somehow manages to keep calm and collected in high stress situations. Beyond the newsroom though she’s also truly a great friend. She’s an extremely supportive friend. She always listens to my long rants as I complain about minor inconveniences, understands me when I justify buying my fourth Starbucks drink in a week and always cheers me on — even for little things. 

While some may think it’s cringey to say that a friend at a college paper will be your “lifelong friend,” I can truly say that Rebecca is a friend I will always remember. Even if we aren’t sitting in The Pitt News office until 1 a.m. on a Monday night, I know that we will continue to keep touch.  I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors and already know she’s going to make an amazing journalist. If her work at The Pitt News over the past four years doesn’t prove it, she’ll be interning at the Chicago Tribune in a few months. 

Grace DeLallo and Rachel Soloff, opinions editors. (Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

Rachel Soloff, Opinions Editor // Grace DeLallo, Assistant Opinions Editor 

I remember sitting in the office in the cubicles (#RIP)

Rachel is patient and even when she has nothing productive to add to the columnist’s pitch, she contributes something positive and supportive. She is incredibly hardworking — even if she would forget to edit columns set for Thursday production until Wednesday morning, she gave this paper her all. 

Grace DeLallo, Assistant Opinions Editor // Rachel Soloff, Opinions Editor

If you don’t know from how much time I spend both with her and talking about her, Grace is my best friend. After a series of job shuffling on the opinions desk, Grace was recommended to become the assistant editor and my life has truly changed because of it. Grace blended seamlessly into both the role and the culture of The Pitt News. 

She has written about anything and everything and does so flawlessly with a distinct voice. She is extremely patient with our columnists and has created such an amazing culture at the opinions desk that I hope carries on longer than both of us.

Now, to get sappy. Grace has truly changed my life. Since she was hired as assistant opinions editor a year and a half ago, she has become an integral part of my life and I can’t imagine my life without her. I love you so much Grace and can’t wait to live with you!!!!

Jessica McKenzie, culture editor. (Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

Jessica McKenzie, Culture Editor // Patrick Swain, Senior Staff Writer

The culture desk comprises an offbeat cast of characters –– we’re not quite serious enough for news, assertive enough for opinions, or athletic enough for sports. Theater kids, music nerds and pop culture devotees line every budget. Culture is a big, messy tent –– it takes the most dedicated editor in the world to tie it all together into a cohesive section. That editor is Jessica McKenzie.

Jess has reinvigorated the culture section. Under her leadership, she has guided a wave of new, eager writers to channel their passion for storytelling into their work. Jess fosters a welcoming environment for newcomers and veterans alike. As a tireless resource and an even better friend, she makes writing for culture fun. 

From myself and everyone over at the culture desk, we wish her the best of luck on her next chapter.

Richie Smiechowski tosses a volleyball in The Pitt News office. (Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

Richie Smiechowski, Sports Editor // Brian Sherry, Assistant Sports Editor

Honestly, when I was hired as Assistant Sports Editor, I barely knew Richie. Now that I think of it, I don’t think I said a single word to him prior to becoming an editor. However, over the course of the semester, I had a chance to get to know Richie and can now call him a friend. 

Richie is probably the nicest person I’ve met during my time at Pitt. That’s no exaggeration, as he made me feel welcome when I was just a clueless new editor. As I developed my skills as an editor and writer, he was always there to encourage me. Working with Richie was never boring, especially during March Madness. As Panther fans everywhere celebrated the men’s basketball team’s success, Richie and I were working, traveling and writing as the storytellers of Pitt’s Cinderella run. I can’t count how many times I spammed Richie’s phone with questions during that run, but it was all worth it in the end. I will always remember that as one of my favorite memories at Pitt. 

The sports desk and I wish Richie the best of luck in his future endeavors. I’ll always miss working with him, but I know he is on to bigger and better things.

Alexandra Ross, assistant news editor. (Image courtesy of Alexandra Ross)

Alexandra Ross, Assistant News Editor // Punya Bhasin and Ryleigh Lord, News Editors

My first really eye-opening memory of Ally’s incredible talent as a writer and journalist was actually through one of her LinkedIn posts. She had made a post saying something along the lines of “feeling proud of her first year at the Pitt News.” Here’s the thing, I did not believe she had only been working at the Pitt News for a year. Her writing and articles were so good, I honestly assumed she had started at The Pitt News as a first-year. I was in so much disbelief I actually looked up her staff profile to make sure. When I double and triple confirmed that she had only been at The Pitt News for a year, I genuinely was in awe and in admiration of her incredible, natural and raw talent as a reporter. 

Ally is someone you always appreciate having on your team. She remains calm under pressure and makes sure all the bases of a story get covered, and her exceptional talent both as a writer and editor has guided the news desk towards a higher standard of work. I am so confident that she will be one of the best journalists of our time, and to the future newsrooms she works at — all I can say is to keep on your toes. Ally Ross is someone who can perform at the caliber of people with years of experience, regardless of when she starts. 

Sinead McDevitt, digital manager and Charlie Taylor, engagement editor. (Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

Sinead McDevitt, Digital Manager // Julia Smeltzer, Senior Staff Writer

The digital desk is home to eager writers searching for a place to express themselves. With an eclectic bunch of writers who cover various topics such as mental health issues, college lifestyle, television and video games and more, we don’t quite exactly fit into one category.  But with all of our differences as writers on the desk, we all have one constant that ties us all together, and that is Sinead McDevitt.

Sinead has created an enthusiastic and comfortable environment for her writers to express themselves, and her patience and hard work have not gone unnoticed. Under her leadership for her two years as digital manager, I have become a much more confident writer, and person. As she instills confidence and motivation in the desk, we have all learned something from her. I am honored to carry on her legacy next year as digital manager.

On behalf of myself and everyone on the digital desk, we thank her for everything she has done for us and we wish her the absolute best of luck on her next chapter!

Charlie Taylor, Engagement Editor // Rebecca Johnson, Editor-in-Chief

Charlie is the coolest person I’ve ever met, full stop. Their clothes, their hair, their drink order — everything about Charlie gives off a creative, original aura. Charlie has carried this spirit into their extensive work at The Pitt News that has spanned four years — a length of time that is an achievement in itself. 

For their first two years at the paper, Charlie worked on the culture desk. They covered everything from stress dreams to Lunar New Year celebrations to Pittsburgh’s drag scene. As culture editor, Charlie led the desk as the city’s art and culture scene adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. They even won a first-place award at a statewide journalism competition as a first-year for a review of “The Office! A Musical Parody.” 

For the past two years, readers haven’t seen Charlie’s byline as much, because they took their talents behind the scenes as engagement editor, running the paper’s social media accounts. As a self-proclaimed Canva expert, Charlie has been integral in improving TPN’s newsletter and building its presence on Instagram. 

After graduation, Charlie is heading to Bryn Mawr College to get their doctorate in art history — which, unsurprisingly, is pretty dang cool.