By Prof. Joanne Kabak
Spectrum Faculty Advisor
Typically, on a Sunday night in late April the main thing on my mind is whether everything is set up right for Spectrum’s annual end-of-semester dinner. It’s an exuberant affair at a private dining room in a local restaurant, when the editors get to let their hair down. Or, more accurately, put it up. Because everyone dresses for the occasion.
There are jokes, speeches, flowers, hugs and pictures. Lots of pictures. And there are special moments to say goodbye to the seniors and wish them well. It’s a tradition embedded in the rhythms of running Spectrum and passing the torch.
But not this year.
Still, celebrating all the editors and managers, and especially the seniors, is intrinsic to the work of Spectrum and to its very nature. Like everything in this unreal year, we are instead using these pages to thank each senior remotely, virtually — and enthusiastically.
Some roles in media are glamorous, and some not so much. But they are essential and must be done well. Like the role of circulation manager. Thanks to Chris Dolan and the distribution team he led, the 20+ racks around Sacred Heart’s expanding campus were filled with the latest edition of Spectrum each week. What good is it to publish a newspaper if no one can find it to read? Chris embraced this responsibility with attention to detail and full dedication.
Yet, these days it’s not enough to make the paper visible — you also need to get people interested and excited. That’s the role of public relations. Gab Ruvo and Dominique Price made sure you knew about Spectrum. They used Instagram, Facebook and table times in the hallway. Need contests, giveaways, or flowers on Valentine’s Day? No worries. They got that too. And you got why Spectrum is available and relevant.
As much as public relations is out front, other roles are behind the scenes. Like copy editor. Keely McCarthy’s “invisible hand” is behind all the text you read. As one of two copy editors, Keely shared the reading of the entire paper each Monday before it went to press. Commas in the right place? Check. Captions with photos? Check. Names spelled correctly? Check. If you’ve ever read Spectrum start to finish, you know what a big job this is, and how Keely’s keen sense of making sure it’s done right enables the words to flow right through it.
But we haven’t even gotten to the heart of the paper yet — its sections.
How hard is the news section? Really really hard. Editors have to consider a lot. What is worthy of the front page? What’s going on at Sacred Heart? And, while you’re at it, what’s going on in the world? As assistant news editor, Louis Frey has dealt with it all. For example, as his final task in news editing, he had to take the latest article on the coronavirus in the tri-state area and make sure that statistics and data were accurate, immediate and attributed. Hard topics, detailed facts – for Louis, it was all in a day’s work and he did it with commitment and clarity.
What is the features section? The most natural answer is whatever you want it to be. For Amanda DeLauzon, features editor, the section became a go-to resource for everything from who is Jack Welch (recently deceased former CEO of GE) to who is your orientation leader (an enthusiastic fellow student). Amanda defined the section in myriad ways, always keeping the focus on what mattered to readers on campus and how to motivate her staff to be as dedicated and creative as possible. Really good topics, really good writing. The section might be flexible, but the core requirements were not. Amanda made sure of that.
Some sections are filled with facts. And some are filled with questions and answers, like perspectives. What do you think about…? How do you feel about…? For Gina D’Amico, perspectives editor, there was never a question of how to write a strong perspectives article. From her first article as a new writer to her last week as editor, Gina got it. Perspectives had to be lively yet grounded. It had to have lots of quotes and lots of angles. And it had to be something people experienced. Like, how much is too much time on social media? For this topic and many more, Gina and her staff had answers.
But, of course, a newspaper isn’t only text. It’s pictures too! The photo editor, a critical link in the chain of publication, needs to bring a knowledge of photography from classes and experience, along with a love of the visual. As photo editor, Abby Frisoli not only had strong abilities as a writer, but also the knowledge and an eye for what makes an impressive photo and what picture needs to go with which article to have both work together in the unique dance of journalism. There’s a lot of training to do for new photographers, a lot of renting cameras, of attending events, and of using imagination to craft photos for articles that are more abstract. Abby led the charge on all these fronts with technical skills, with consideration for her staff, and with a sense of photojournalism and beauty through images.
Each of these roles and many others operate in sync thanks to the leadership team at the top. Erica Condon, managing editor for editorial, had major responsibility for approving the topics each week and making sure the layout and editing were the best possible. But the job description is only part of what Erica contributed for every issue. Need an article on an event? Erica went and wrote it up. Need someone to cover the writers meeting for an editor who couldn’t go? Erica can handle it. In fact, Erica could handle everything that came her way with intelligence and grace.
Talk about someone who could and would do everything — and you are also talking about Dom Caporale. As managing editor for business and multimedia, Dom was “jack of all trades.” He navigated the fine points of getting a purchase approved; he built deep and lasting relationships with advertisers in the area; he badgered WordPress until they fixed the hacking problem; he organized fundraisers; he inspired students to participate in Audrey’s Corner; he even engaged his mother to write an article. Did I leave anything out? Probably. Dom used his enormous energy and sales skills to truly manage Spectrum not just as a communications vehicle but as a business enterprise.
Still, as vital as each of these positions are, there is one whose title says it all: editor-in-chief. In that role, Bryana Cielo is the boss. She makes sure it runs. She takes the heat when it doesn’t run right. She motivates her staff. And she carried Spectrum forward in the most challenging time it has ever faced in its history. Bryana has always been about the writing. It needs to be solid, grammatically correct, in AP style, accurate, structured, powerful. And she kept that focus even as she dealt with disruptions like staff who had to quit because of schedule conflicts or demands from the faculty advisor (me) because an article didn’t get uploaded on time. Bryana managed Spectrum with great grit and wisdom. She left the paper a better place than when she found it. She embodied the classic phrase that fits every outstanding manager: “the buck stops here.”
This is only a little bit of what each editor and manager did since joining Spectrum, but I hope it’s enough to know how exceptional they are. It’s hard to say goodbye without that hug and those jokes and the pictures. But the message is the same. To each graduating senior: You are professionals. You will be missed. You made a difference. Thank you.