Editor’s note: The Daily’s editorial department acknowledges that this article is premised on a conflict of interest. This article is a special feature for Daily Week 2021 that does not represent the Daily’s standard journalistic practices.
When Senior Stephanie Hoechst talks about the Arts & Pop Culture section of the Daily, she makes the group sound like a close-knit group of friends, or as she affectionately describes it, “A little family … that rants about Gaga and trashes movies.” However, within this lively community, Hoechst and her colleagues have also done insightful work on a wide variety of topics in the local and international arts scenes.
During her time in Arts, Hoechst has covered everything from on-campus theater productions to the most popular movies of the year. She has written an impressive 48 articles, edited countless more and spent a semester as Executive Arts Editor, during which she helped to grow the section.
As an English and film and media studies double major, Hoechst has always had an interest in writing, film and television, and she thought the Daily would be the perfect place to pursue these passions. After taking her first semester to settle into college life, Hoechst started writing for the News and Arts sections in the spring of 2018. However, she quickly gravitated toward Arts.
“I love [the Arts] section to pieces … the people in it are so interesting and cool and articulate and smart,” Hoechst said.
During her brief time as a News writer, Hoechst realized how much she enjoyed conducting interviews. This interest would influence her writing throughout her time in Arts. In her first semester, Hoechst covered on-campus theater productions such as Tufts Opera Ensemble’s “Le Nozze Di Figaro” and Torn Ticket II’s “Assassins,” which involved interviewing the directors and actors of these productions.
“I feel like everyone in Arts wants to write reviews, so I was one of the rare folks who really enjoyed doing interviews,” Hoechst said. “Arts interviews [are] all so positive … [They’re] highlighting these really cool, artistic people and …they’re excited about their work and you’re excited about hearing [about] their work, so it’s a super positive experience.”
In the process writing one of her favorite articles, which covered representation in on-campus comedy groups, Hoechst interviewed the leadership of Comic Relief, Tufts first comedy group for people of color and TFL Comedy, a comedy group for gender minorities.
“I remember the interviews being really fun and interesting and empowering,” Hoechst said. “I felt really proud of being able to get that story out there and talk about the importance of having representation in comedy.”
Throughout her long career in the Arts section, Hoechst also ventured into writing reviews of popular films and television series. Her favorite review is her analysis of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018), which she deemed the “best movie of the last decade.”
In addition to her extensive achievements as a writer, Hoechst went on to become Executive Arts Editor in the fall of 2019. For Hoechst, the job was a difficult but rewarding one. “I remember definitely being really stressed. It’s not a job for the faint of heart.”
While dealing with the daily logistics of scheduling and editing was often difficult, Hoechst learned an important lesson from the experience: how to just roll with it. “There’s so little that you can anticipate and plan for because … daily journalism is messy and hard,” Hoechst said. “It’s so much easier to have the confidence that you know how to course correct and improvise … I find that skill a lot more reliable than planning stuff really intensely.”
Her role as an editor also made her feel like she was contributing to the Arts section in a different capacity. “[Being the Executive Editor] was a lot about learning the importance of sharing knowledge and being there to help folks who are just starting out,” Hoechst said.
In this role, Hoechst mentored new writers and a large group of editors, and enjoyed the responsibility of growing the section that had become “a little family” to her. “An exec is your professional role model sometimes, but also can be like your older sister.”
Through both the stressful and entertaining times, Hoechst found a strong sense of community at the Daily. Between the late nights spent in the Daily’s office in the Curtis Hall basement and the lively Arts section meetings, Hoechst formed close relationships with people who shared her passions.
“Arts meetings are so incredibly chaotic,” Hoechst said. “Especially when we were still meeting in person, it would be about fifteen minutes of actually scheduling content. Then the rest would just be, talking about movies we love or … hate or conspiracy theories.”
One such conspiracy theory was that the personalities of the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential candidates could all be represented by a Phineas and Ferb character. After a weekly section meeting, Hoechst recalled staying late with a few friends to map out this idea. They concluded that Kamala Harris is both Perry the Platypus and Candace, and Joe Biden is, of course, Ferb.
This kind of delightful and seemingly absurd conversation is something that encapsulates Hoechst’s love for the section. If there’s one sentiment she hopes to leave with Arts after she graduates, it’s this: “Be weird … be weird and passionate about the weird things you like. That’s what makes it beautiful, and it’s also an opportunity to go out and experience more interesting things and become passionate about them.”