An Exit Interview with the Seniors of the TCR Exec Board

By Ruby Van Dyk ’21 || Assistant Managing Editor & Incoming Editor-in-Chief

With the end of this unprecedented semester comes the graduation of three of The College Reporter’s Executive Board Members: Alex Pinsk, Editor-in-Chief, Gabby Goodwin, Managing Editor, and Katie Coble, News Editor. The three Editors have all been with TCR since their freshman year at F&M, dedicating many sleepless nights, every Sunday morning, and every hour in between to the publication of this newspaper. They have been a central part of the heart and soul of TCR, providing vision, leadership, friendship and incredible journalism to the F&M community. I recently asked the three of them to answer a few questions reflecting on their time on TCR. 

What made you initially join TCR?

Alex Pinsk, Editor-in-Chief: Honestly, I stumbled upon TCR’s table at the club fair and attended the first meeting. I had no prior experience working in student journalism other than the couple of pieces that I wrote for my high school’s newspaper. Going into college, I had not planned on pursuing work with the newspaper. However, after the first meeting in Fall 2016, I continued my work with TCR because I loved the staff, and the work they were doing was extremely relevant and important. 

Gabby Goodwin, Managing Editor: The summer before I started at F&M, I remember Joe Yamulla, who was the Sports Editor for TCR at the time, posted in the Class of 2020 Facebook group looking for an Assistant Sports Editor. As someone who is super passionate about both sports and writing, I jumped right on the opportunity to join and start writing for TCR.

Katie Coble, News Editor: I’ve been interested in journalism since I was really little and researched/read TCR the summer before I came to campus. I showed up to the first meeting and initially planned on writing sports, but fell into news because the editor seemed approachable. I became news editor a semester later when she went abroad and have stuck with it since. 

What has been your favorite TCR memory? 

AP: Definitely when we discovered old April Fools Day newspaper editions in the office. That was a hoot. Or when I accidentally unplugged the desktop computer while Danielle was working on it and we thought I lost the entire newspaper. (We didn’t, but I’m sorry, Danielle, for the scare!)

GG: My favorite TCR memory is probably when Alex, our current Editor-in-Chief, and I decorated the new TCR office with all of the funny quotes from TCR editors over the years. They were hysterical and we found some quotes from editors in the 80s and 90s which I thought was super cool. Another favorite memory is also revealing all of our embarrassing pictures on the Board O’ Hotties. 

KC: You spend so much time in CC editing, and it sometimes feels like a chore, but that’s actually a lot of time to be bonding with the same people every single Sunday. I think most of my favorite memories come from that basic bonding. 

How TCR impacted your perspective on the importance of college journalism/journalism in general?

AP: I certainly knew that student journalism was important to a college campus and to communicating with the student body. However, I don’t think I realized its significance until I spent four years on staff. Being a part of a student newspaper, and of student outreach and journalism, is a tricky role to play. People are skeptical of you, don’t like you, assume that you are out to get them, when really you’re just seeking the truth and will do what it takes to get it. College journalism is a vital part of a college community as it is the legate between the Administration and the student body. Student journalists are, effectively liaisons, and must leverage their role as such with their role as students. To be frank, I have learned that there is a great deal of covertness in the way that the College is run and in decision-making processes. Some of these are simply matters of confidentiality and seem to be founded, but some are not. Student journalism is increasingly important in that it brings to light information that may be unfairly concealed from students and informs the student body on a variety of issues pertaining to student life. 

GG: Being a part of TCR has made me realize how important both college journalism and journalism in general are. As someone who was given the chance to investigate, talk with administration, uncover the truth, and report on such important issues at F&M, I found it super rewarding to know that our campus was being informed as to what was going on. 

KC: I think at a small campus it’s easy to underestimate the importance of student journalism. After all, newspapers at huge state schools have hundreds of staff members including paid editors. Many publish daily. They win fancy awards. At F&M, it feels like everyone already knows the news – so what’s the point of TCR?! The truth is that everyone knows the gossip, but it takes guts and a good editorial staff to actually write a strong and informative piece. That’s one of my biggest takeaways from TCR 🙂 

Do you have a favorite piece you’ve written?

AP: This past march I collaborated on a piece with Ruby Van Dyk and Gabby Goodwin about an F&M alumnus, Asawin Suebsaeng ‘11 and his colleague, Lachlan Markay, who came to campus and spoke about journalism and the book they had just written. Suebsaeng was on staff at The College Reporter when he was a student at F&M and talked a bit about his experience applying his work with College journalism out into the world. I enjoyed writing this piece because it helped me better understand the role of investigative journalism in society at large. It inspired me to continue the work I was doing. I also love collaborative pieces, so working with two managing editors on this piece was a lot of fun. 

GG: I don’t think I have one particular favorite piece I’ve written, but I love to write about F&M sports teams. It has given me a deeper appreciation for some of my fellow student-athletes to learn about their successes on the field, court, etc. 

KC: Either my opinion piece on how to improve campus safety in the wake of an attempted rape in Brooks College House or my overview of the 2019 Halloween costume incident.

What is a skill you’ve learned from your time on TCR that you will apply in life after F&M?

AP: Informed decisions-making is a big one. I think it’s so easy to make decisions spontaneously or without all of the information, and there are certainly times when a statement that we want to print could use another source confirming the accuracy of that statement—and other instances alike to that. I have learned how to go about making the “right” call and reflect on experiences to decide whether something should be printed, who should look at it first, if we know another source who could confirm, whether we need to wait another week, etc. Working with TCR, you learn ‘on the job,’ and I think a lot of other staff members would say the same. Leadership is another skill that I will take with me upon graduating, as is communication. Part of the role of student journalism is meeting people, talking to sources, having conversations that are both on and off the record. Polishing those skills will help anyone involved in student journalism with better communication.

GG: I definitely think my writing abilities have improved in my time on TCR, which is something I will for sure apply in my life after F&M. 

KC: Learning how to interview others was a godsend for my professional life. I’m truly so much better at conversing with strangers. Also, although I spent a lot of time doing a TON of academic writing at f&m (obviously), learning how to write professionally (but not academically) through journalism is SUCH a great skill to have. TCR also gave me 90% of my interview answers for those questions like “tell me about when you worked in a team!” or “can you tell me about a time you took constructive criticism?” etc. Overall, great for my professional life!

What will you miss about TCR?

AP: So many things!! I’m going to miss the office, the community that I have been a part of over the course of these four years. I’ll miss our wall of quotes and the craziness that hits when we’ve been in the office for way too long. But, most of all, I will miss the staff. I will miss the people that come together to publish the newspaper every week, the understanding that has developed overtime, and the community that we have created. I love you all! My fellow seniors, and the rest of the staff. I also know that you are in great hands with Ruby as EIC and that each one of you is fully capable of continuing your role and contributing to the TCR community as well as the F&M community. 

GG: Definitely the people. TCR has given me friends that will last a lifetime and I am eternally grateful for that.  

KC: The people!!!! I feel like I met a lot of people through TCR I wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise. Although I didn’t get to bond with the upperclassmen as much as Alex/Gabby due to my entire year spent abroad, I did always feel “at home” with TCR and especially had a great time this year 🙂

I, and the rest of the staff will miss this Exec board beyond measure. We can’t wait to see them go out and make their mark on the world. Congrats you three, and thank you for everything. Rolls Dips.

Junior Ruby Van Dyk is the Assistant Managing Editor and Incoming Editor-in-Chief. Her email is rvandyk@fandm.edu

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