The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

TPN thanks, says goodbye to senior editors

TPN File Photo
The Pitt News box outside the Cathedral of Learning.

From sweet treat runs to mania-induced Instagram reels filmed all over the fourth floor of the William Pitt Union, The Pitt News Editorial Board had quite the memorable year. As graduation quickly approaches, we are both proud of and heartbroken to say goodbye to the senior editors who made TPN exactly what it is. 

Betül Tuncer, editor-in-chief. (Nate Yonamine | Assistant Visual Editor)

Betul Tuncer, Editor-in-Chief // Ryleigh Lord, News Editor

The first time I met Betul Tuncer, she was interviewing me over Zoom for a staff writer position. I remember this moment not because it entirely changed the trajectory of my college career, but because she was in an oddly echoey room and sounded like she was underwater. I’ve never said this directly to Betul, but every day I’m thankful that she took a chance on me and let me find my home at The Pitt News. 

In her time at TPN, Betul created a space post-COVID that writers and editors want to spend time in. I’d be remiss to write this and not include the circle-shaped desks that the editors work at. It is a symbol of the community and family Betul cultivated during her time as both managing editor and editor-in-chief that will long outlast any of our individual time in the office. 

Some of my favorite memories over the last two and a half years are late nights in the office, telling stories and seeing Betul’s face morph from shock to surprise to entertainment. Betul doesn’t know this, but I take it as a personal win every time I make her laugh. 

Betul is a kind, compassionate and understanding editor and boss, but she also holds her writers and editors to an incredibly high standard. It’s the kind of standard that being editor-in-chief demands, and she does it with grace and makes it look easy, which it decidedly is not. 

TPN is going to sorely miss Betul’s leadership and her incredible fashion taste, and I can only hope to do half as good a job next year as she did this year. Wherever Betul ends up is going to be infinitely lucky to have her, and I cannot wait to see her excel. 

Pamela Smith, managing editor. (Nate Yonamine | Assistant Visual Editor)

Pamela Smith, Managing Editor // Patrick Swain, Culture Editor 

Pam sees the world through a camera. I can scarcely remember a time that I’ve seen her outside the office without a camera strap around her neck, eyes darting around the room, ready to share their sight with the world. Some photographers prefer to wait in the wings and capture life from the side. Not Pam — she will pursue her subject westward down Fifth Avenue, face down a red-haired horde head on or dodge footballs on the sideline to get the shot.

Between long production nights and days spontaneously reporting out in Oakland, Pam has been a fixture in my experience at The Pitt News. Every time I had the privilege of writing a story that Pam photographs, I tried my best to write a piece that encapsulates the atmosphere half as well as her photos do. No matter how menial or ludicrous the topic, Pam treats the space below the byline as her canvas, making art of the news as it happens.

As she leaves us for the Associated Press, that canvas grows. Only time will reveal the countless photos she’ll capture. I hope they have Rita’s in New York.

Pamela Smith, Managing Editor // Nate Yonamine, Assistant Visuals Editor

On November 4, 2021, a single DM reply changed my life for the better. I had just heard I would be medically disqualified from Air Force ROTC, throwing all my college and career plans out the window. In a panic to salvage my time in college, I fell back to what I loved doing taking photos. After sending more cold DMs than I would care to admit, I found Pam’s Instagram. 

Before I knew it, I was standing on Butler Street at 9 p.m. taking my first assignment for TPN. Looking back now, Pam is the reason why I joined The Pitt News. Pam is the reason I fell in love with photojournalism and decided to pursue this work in the future. Pam is the reason I found a new family on campus. 

I cannot express the gratitude I have for all the mentorship, friendship, and camaraderie Pam shared with me over these 2.5 years. It is so insane to think how differently my college experience turned out compared to my first-year expectations, but I would not give it up for the world. Thank you, Pam, for giving me that one reply to put me on this amazing path.

(Left) Punya Bhasin, Ryleigh Lord and Donata Massimiani. (Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor)

Donata Massimiani, Assistant News Editor // Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager

To know Donata Massimiani is to love her! Both myself and Donata stepped into new editorial positions this year and she has done an incredible job at becoming a leader at The Pitt News.

When she is not tirelessly working hard, writing amazing pieces that contribute deep and meaningful content to the publication or eagerly helping out those around her, her bright personality and contagious smile is lighting up the room.

One of my favorite parts this year was being able to sit next to Donata in the office every week. She fills the room with a bright energy that makes everyone laugh and smile. My favorite part was hearing all of her stories — especially the ones where she fell for not one, but two online phishing scams. 

Between us chatting about our stressful days, what baked goods she was going to make that night after production, or just laughing about complete nonsense, getting to know Donata has been such a memorable part of my Pitt News experience. 

I have no doubt that Donata is going to take the world by storm after graduation. Her charm, determination and love for journalism will take her so far. Again, anyone who gets to know Donata knows it’s not hard to love her! 

Congratulations Donata on everything you have achieved so far I cannot wait to see what you do next.

Patrick Swain, culture editor. (Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor)

Patrick Swain, Culture Editor // Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor

Patrick Swain — also known as Pattick, P. Swain, P. Swizzle, Patty Swain, the P. Miser, Satrick Pwain, and, when you see him for the third time in one day, Hat Trick Patrick — is a bit of a Renaissance man. He’s an actor whose claim-to-fame role as the TPN cupid brought in a whopping 54 likes on TikTok. He’s a musician who, two months ago, released his fourth album available wherever you like to stream your music. And of course, he’s the sole culture editor at the Pitt News, bringing the people of Pittsburgh information on culturally enriching events around the city and bringing his fellow editors childlike joy whenever he’s in the office.

When all of us look back on this year at The Pitt News, it will be hard not to think of Patrick. He was the one who bound and gagged himself for a hostage photo in an attempt to get his writers to take stories. He was also the one who taught us that binding and gagging yourself for a hostage photo is not a very effective way to get your writers to take stories. But we all thought it was very funny, and that’s what matters. If a blacklight could expose fond memories the way it does with bodily fluids, you’d be able to see Patrick Swain splattered across the walls of The Pitt News office.

Knick Knack Patty Swack — another classic nickname — will go down in TPN history, both for eating newspaper for a TikTok and for his amazing coverage of Pittsburgh’s cultural events. He is a wonderful writer and an even more wonderful friend. Patrick, if you decide to return to The Pitt News office and haunt next year’s editors like some strange culture-desk specter, we will all welcome you with open arms. In fact, please do that.

Jermaine Sykes, assistant sports editor, poses for a photo with a copy of The Pitt News March Madness Edition. (Nate Yonamine | Assistant Visual Editor)

Jermaine Sykes, Assistant Sports Editor // Aidan Kasner, Staff Writer

Jermaine, along with incoming managing editor Brian Sherry, was one of the first faces I met at The Pitt News. There is a notion that first impressions are lasting ones, and in the case of Jermaine this has never been truer. From my interview to my first assignment, Jermaine was there for a new first-year writer that had absolutely no idea what was going on. 

After I wrote my first piece, I sat with Jermaine in the office editing, line by line. I will never forget calling my mom later that night and gabbing about how good of a writer Jermaine was, how much he helped me and how cool he was — blah, blah, blah. It seems cliché, but it really is true. 

From then on, each meeting, each assignment and each interaction brought me closer to Jermaine, and I got to understand how kind, funny and hard-working he was. 

I will never forget the impact Jermaine has had on me as a writer and as a person. I will miss his presence at The Pitt News greatly. Thanks for everything, buddy. 

Jermaine Sykes // Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer

“Edits in buddy.”

A phrase that I’ll so dearly miss.

It may seem like nothing, and it kind of is. But to the sports desk, it’s everything. It’s so authentically Jermaine.

I am forever thankful for everything that Jermaine Sykes has done for me in the past year as assistant sports editor. He and Brian Sherry showed confidence in me to take the Pitt volleyball beat and allowed me to work alongside Jermaine on the Pitt men’s basketball beat — two beats that let a sophomore in college travel to cities he would never have the chance to go to otherwise.

I will never forget recording The Pitt News Sports Podcast together. From recording an episode with Pitt volleyball star first-year outside hitter Torrey Stafford to simply talking ball together, it was all an honor.  

The sports desk is losing not only an editor but someone who stops the awkward silences from happening in meetings because he cares and relates to everyone on the sports desk. 

I don’t know what I will make my phrase for when I have my edits ready next year, but it will never hit like “edits in buddy.”

Allison Schaeffer, graduating senior and copy chief of The Pitt News, poses for a photo in front of the copy board at The Pitt News office on Tuesday. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

Allison Schaeffer, Copy Chief // Livia Daggett, Assistant Copy Chief 

There are few Irish Gaelic learners in the world. Fewer still are also French speakers, grammar experts and card game connoisseurs. Allison is all of the above. Throughout her two years as copy chief, she has brought the same passion and eye for detail required by language learning to her editorial role. I know she’ll bring it to whatever comes next, too.

Copy editing is a thankless, painstaking task liable to result in damage to one’s vision, and it takes a certain kind of grit to do it night after night. Allison does it with infectious enthusiasm. It’s been wonderful having a fellow grammar nerd in the office — someone who I know will respond in kind to the Slack message “omg AP style is switching to Merriam-Webster,” and who will give a thoughtful answer to a subjective copy question even when it’s past midnight on one of her days off. 

I’ll miss her fearless leadership, unrelenting commitment to accuracy and tendency to sleep into the p.m. Allison, we’ll keep the copy knife sharp in your honor!

Anna Ehlers, Layout Editor // Pamela Smith, Managing Editor

Anna Ehlers is possibly the bravest soldier on The Pitt News editorial board. The Pitt News quite literally would not exist in physical form without her. And Anna doesn’t just slap all of the editorial content into InDesign and call it a day — she works incredibly hard to make the paper the coolest thing you’ve ever seen, especially the Silhouettes edition. We’re so lucky to have her here. Personally, I am very lucky that Anna was layout editor while I was summer editor-in-chief in 2023. I quite literally did not know how to do anything with the paper, but Anna makes InDesign look a little too easy, especially when she was on a very tight deadline. 

And aside from layout, she is a great opinions columnist. I’ve enjoyed reading Anna’s satires especially, and I’m gonna miss chuckling at the biting commentary on campus green spaces and Oakland drivers after we all graduate. She’s funny outside of her columns too, which is a feat as she’s, again, typically doing layout at the same time too. Anna, I hope you have a great summer and I hope to see some of your films, layout or columns somewhere out in the world.

Ethan Shulman, Visuals Editor // Nate Yonamine, Assistant Visuals Editor 

If the Lillian painting on the wall could come to life, I would ask her to recite all the good memories Ethan and I had in her room. 

From sitting together in visuals meetings to leading them, we have both come a long way. But the greatest gift I was able to find there was an amazing friend and mentor. Beyond just chatting gear, I am so thankful for the impromptu photo reviews, countless inside jokes, and wise editor lessons Ethan gave me in that antique room. 

I am very excited to see what you create next, both professionally and photographically. Lillian may have hosted the good times, but I am glad I could leave the Lillian Room with a friend like you.

Nate Yonamine, assistant visual editor. (Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor)

Nate Yonamine, Assistant Visuals Editor // Pamela Smith, Managing Editor 

In 2022, I got an email from someone named Nate Yonamine who wanted to apply to the visuals desk. We hired him because he was enthusiastic to work at The Pitt News, and had a great portfolio already. I still remember Nate’s first assignment, which was a building in Lawrenceville, photographed as a long exposure with streaks of lights from cars illuminating the front. 

I don’t think Nate has ever put little effort into anything, ever. While of course that’s appreciated workwise, I’ve always admired his sense of passion for photography and for community so much, and for how much he’s stepped up as a leader on the visuals desk. 

Nate has genuinely been great to work with, great to learn from, and a great friend throughout my time at The Pitt News and I’m very thankful for that. In the summer of 2023, I was in Pittsburgh alone almost all the time and thought I was going insane, and some of my best memories from this time are the random photo excursions I went on with Nate. And often when I was out on assignment with him, Nate would run into a ton of random people he knew, always greeting them with a smile, and I think that’s a strong testament to his character. 

There’s no person I would have rather braved random TPN assignments with, from Anthrocon to Pymatuning, and I’m looking forward to seeing what random adventures and great things Nate does next.

Julia Smeltzer, digital manager, poses for a portrait.
(Nate Yonamine | Assistant Visual Editor)

Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager // Jermaine Sykes, Assistant Sports Editor 

Four years is a long time. I remember our first year meeting Julia in Nordenberg — BTW, this week is our 3 year anniversary of being Snapchat friends!

I have a lot to thank Julia for, but primarily I want to thank her for helping me and the sports desk get the podcast up and running again. We needed the help.

I’m glad to see the professional Julia has become, but I am not one bit surprised. She is a very bright person and has big things ahead for her. I’ll always remember Julia as a friend and the person who made my raspy voice sound good on audio!

Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager // Ryleigh Lord, News Editor

It’s a bit absurd to think that in the grand scheme of things, I’ve only known Julia for less than one year. But it’s equally as special to think about how in that short amount of time, Julia became someone who I could rant to and laugh with every time I saw her.

Julia is the person who encouraged me to try a podcast because “people would be fascinated hearing the stories you tell.” Her enthusiasm and love for podcasting and blogging was a quiet inspiration for the often sleep-deprived and existential news editor sitting across from her. 

Julia is my favorite fake blonde and someone I feel so lucky to know. She encourages everyone she meets to try new things because she genuinely believes that they’re interesting, even when the people themselves have doubts. Sometimes I’d get sad that her stories went into copy before mine, just because I didn’t want her to leave the office.

I cannot wait to see the multitude of ways in which Julia is going to make the world a better place — I’m just sorry we never got to do our South Oakland bar crawl.

Patrick Canavagh, Multimedia Editor // Nate Yonamine, Assistant Visuals Editor

What would multimedia desk be without its fearless leader? Over the past 2.5 years at The Pitt News, I have had the pleasure of witnessing Pat’s voice shine through every video he created. 

Whether it was pernicious lanternflies or online sports betting, a new video landing on my YouTube homepage always steered me away from my current work. While I will certainly miss my dose of hyperlocal video journalism, I am excited to see his successors continue the legacy of creativity and curiosity. 

I wish Pat all the best in his future career, and I am excited to watch whatever comes next!

About the Contributor