Editor’s note: The Daily’s editorial department acknowledges that this article is premised on several conflicts of interest. This article is a special feature for the Daily’s Commencement edition that does not represent the Daily’s standard journalistic practices.
The Daily spoke with several seniors who have served on the executive board during their time at Tufts. They represent active and retired staff members with roles ranging from copy editor to editor in chief. Many of them joined the Daily before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and recall working in the newsroom before Tufts sent students home for the spring 2020 semester. Others joined later on, with this school year marking their first time serving on the executive board of the Daily. Here are their stories:
Senior Editor, Spring 2023
Editor in Chief, Spring 2022
By Ishaan Rajiv Rajabali
Alex Janoff’s journey with student journalism actually began in high school but surprisingly not as a writer.
“I was never really a part of the school paper until senior year when [the editor in chief] needed a business manager, and he dragged me along. So, I joined my high school paper as a business manager,” he said, sharing that he soon began to write and realized he wanted to continue with it in college, joining the Daily after attending the general interest meeting in his first year.
Janoff has participated in many roles at the Daily, but he looked back on his time working on an interactive COVID-19 dashboard with former editor in chief Alex Viveros (LA’22) as the project he was most proud of.
“We noticed over the course of that semester that … we wouldn’t get really consistent data … [and] we would notice that some of the data they would present would kind of conflict with other data,” he said. “I think we did a really good job in informing the community, which is one of the jobs of the newspaper, but also holding the university accountable.”
He added that his funniest Daily-related memory remains working on joke articles for the April Fools’ Issue.
Janoff also discussed his experience of being named in a lawsuit during his tenure as editor in chief in March 2022.
“One of the articles that we put out received some blowback from one of the subjects. … It went back and forth … trying to appease the source and issue a clarification. But it was pretty clear that this person wanted the article written the way they wanted it written, which is not what we do at the Daily,” he explained, elaborating that the lawsuit claimed the article caused emotional distress. “I have a lot of respect for our writers … and I wasn’t [going to] let one of our writers be arm-twisted into changing the article.”
Janoff highlighted his engagement with the Daily community as his biggest takeaway from his four years with the newspaper.
“It’s impossible to put out or produce a newspaper by yourself, and we have such a great team here,” he said. “Handling [team] dynamics was definitely something that was really important.”
He added that he also appreciates how the Daily’s journalism is influenced by how much the team cares about the Tufts community.
“I think it’s hard to be an apathetic journalist,” he said. “We all have some interest in journalism, but I think a lot of our interest is more in telling stories about our community and about our peers.”
For Janoff, being at the Daily means knowing more about Tufts.
“I think remaining engaged with the Daily not only connects you more with the Daily community, but it also connects you a lot more with the Tufts community,” Janoff said. “You really do know what’s going on. And that’s something I really like: being in the know.”
Editorial Editor, Spring 2023
By Aaron Gruen
Despite working at the Daily for four years, Brendan Hartnett’s senior spring was his first — and only — semester serving on the executive board. Now, as executive editorial editor, he enjoys having the power to “stir the pot.”
“It’s nice to see that we’re able to get stuff going,” Hartnett said. “My goal has been to use the power of the Editorial Board to make clear the stance of the Daily on certain issues and hold powerful individuals and groups and institutions accountable.”
Hartnett’s trajectory at the Daily began his first-year fall, when he worked at the Daily as a copy editor.
“It was just an extracurricular. I didn’t really see it as related to my academic nor career interests at the time,” Hartnett said.
Hartnett recalls being in the Daily’s newsroom the Monday before students were sent home due to the pandemic; he returned the following semester during virtual production of the newspaper, at which point several of his friends were on the managing board.
Hartnett copy edited throughout his sophomore year and started the opinion column “Democracy in the Daily” in response to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capital. Hartnett also served as a chair of the Daily’s Intentionality & Inclusivity Committee.
In his current role, Hartnett has also enjoyed meeting more people at the Daily.
“It’s been really rewarding getting to know members of the executive and managing board better than I have in the past,” Hartnett said. “I’ve met a ton of really cool, really driven and really talented people, and that was such a great gift of this semester.”
Now, Hartnett has come full circle: “I didn’t think it was relevant to my career, but now [the Daily is] one of the best things I’ve done, I think, for my career.”
Following graduation, Hartnett plans to work as a James C. Gaither Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, working with the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance program.
If there’s one thing he wishes he did earlier, however, it’s joining the executive board.
“I should have been on executive board … so long ago for access to free food,” Hartnett mused.
Editor in Chief, Fall 2021
By Katie Spiropoulos
Maddie Aitken started her Daily career as a writer for the news and features sections and has not looked back. After serving as executive news editor, Aitken worked her way to the top of the masthead to serve as editor in chief in fall 2021.
Now, in her final semester at the Daily, Aitken tackles a new side of journalism from her more traditional writing posts as she serves as the executive audio producer.
“I was really proud of what the Daily was doing last semester and loved being really involved in that process,” she said.
For Aitken, serving as editor in chief was the most impactful part of her Daily experience.
“It is such a unique thing to be able to do, and I just really enjoyed the gratification of getting to work so hard on something and then have this tangible product that comes out every day,” Aitken said.
As a reporter before serving on the executive board, Aitken had to navigate working for a college paper while being a student in a world dominated by the pandemic. She translated her experiences into articles for the Daily.
“I think that my most difficult article was one about how students were not complying with the university guidelines while COVID was increasing in fall 2020,” Aitken recalled. “It was hard from a reporting angle to get people to talk about that.”
Aitken has since written for the arts section, too, which have turned out to be some of her favorite experiences at the Daily.
“I got to interview Del Water Gap, who is an artist that I love,” Aitken said. “It was something that I was doing for a journalism class that I eventually turned into a Daily article, but the assignment was to profile someone that we didn’t know, and I decided to just kind of shoot my shot and I sent him a message and I didn’t think that he would ever reply.”
Aitken has reviewed and written on big names in the music world such as boygenius, Teagan and Sara and Maggie Rogers and covered a variety of Boston-area concerts for the Daily.
Now, as graduation approaches, Aitken is plotting a career in journalism.
“I am planning to go into journalism, which is definitely a direct result of my time with the Daily, which is really cool,” Aitken said. “I feel like the Daily has been the biggest part of my Tufts experience, that definitely will be something that I remember forever — as corny as that sounds.”
Managing Editor, Fall 2021
By Olivia Field
Mariel Priven, a senior and former managing editor for the Daily, decided to join the Daily during her freshman year. Though Priven had a background in journalism in high school, she was nervous about joining a student-run publication in college.
“I had loved journalism in high school. I was very involved in my small student paper and was a little nervous to join a written section,” Priven explained. “When I found out about the copy editing team, especially as someone who is a little nerdy about grammar, I was excited there was just a low commitment, less stressful way to get involved.”
Priven started her career at the Daily as a copy editor, going into the office two to three times per week. She climbed the ranks within the copy section, eventually becoming an executive copy editor during her sophomore spring. By her junior year, Priven was a managing editor, a role almost completely different from her prior day-to-day work at the Daily.
“[I was] editing each night more for accuracy and clarity and integrity and making sure that we were following different journalistic ethics,” Priven said.
Priven said that while her love of editing was based on a passion for grammar, she appreciated the opportunity to work with the Daily on more thematic and journalistic editing.
“That was definitely a very rewarding experience. I think as much as I love grammar, it was a nice change,” she said.
For Priven, the work environment — and people — also made a difference.
“It was a really warm environment, and the people were amazing. … I really felt when I was in the office that people loved journalism and loved what they were doing and were doing everything out of passion and because they were rewarded by it, and not because of something they wanted to put on their resume,” Priven said.
Priven said that the Daily is valuable, both for individual students and for Tufts at large.
“I think that it’s such an opportunity for growth and learning outside of the classroom,” Priven said. “In terms of our audience, I think that given that we’re a college campus and given that the people who can make up our community are students, I think it is really valuable to have students reporting and students writing about what’s going on on our campus.”
Executive Photo Editor, Spring 2023
By Ishaan Rajiv Rajabali
Despite his current position as executive photo editor, Quan Tran’s journey with the Daily actually began in the copy section.
“It was sometime in freshman year. … I heard about it from someone in Carmichael, and I went to the first GIM,” he said.
However, after the emergence of COVID-19, his interests changed.
“I went home and … wanted to get into photojournalism,” he shared. “And I thought, … I’ll give it another shot, but just in a different part of the Daily. And that’s sort of how I got into being a photographer for the Daily.”
Tran discussed his experience as a sports photographer as the highlight of his time with the Daily
“I had no experience photographing any of the sports events. But then, I showed up, I watched the games,” he said. “Being there, close to the action, … I got some pretty good pictures and that sort of opened up a new passion for me.”
For him, it was the experience of going out and taking pictures and of contributing to something larger that motivated him to become the executive photo editor.
“I wanted to be more involved in the process of planning things out … to give back to the Daily and … give guidance or direction to photographers coming in. That was … my hope, that they would find the same experience I had.”
Tran underscored presenting at DailyCon, the Daily’s semesterly training event, as an experience he often looks back on.
“I dread public speaking, but it was just such a fun time being up there,” he reminisced. “Talking about photo techniques, [which is] something I enjoy doing, and … just presenting and doing a little photo walk afterwards.”
He added that being a photographer prompted him to attend events he never would have otherwise, which added to not just his time with the paper, but as a Tufts undergraduate.
“Managing work life, school life, … also managing the staff for the first time … just having the whole system run smoothly is more difficult than I anticipated, but it was a fun challenge,” he said.
Tran’s biggest piece of advice to aspiring photojournalists is to always keep their cameras ready.
“They ask me, ‘Oh, do I need a camera for this?’… and my answer’s always, ‘You have a phone with you,’” he said. “Being able to see the moment is something that takes practice. … Don’t be afraid to just take a few snaps!”
Managing Editor, Fall 2020
By Katie Spiropoulos
Harris began her time at the Daily in the fall of 2019 and has run through the different ranks of the paper ever since; now, she holds the same position she held as a first-year: editorialist.
“I started as an editorialist at the Daily, actually, my first semester of freshman year. [Then] I was opinion exec my freshman spring,” Harris said. “When we came back to campus during COVID, I was a managing editor, and then after that, I was audio exec for two semesters. And then after that, I was the outreach coordinator … and now, editorialist.”
In the end, Harris said that managing editor was her favorite role.
“Everything that I love about student journalism and everything I love about the Daily was on full display, and that is, in large part, about the people,” Harris recalled. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a more dedicated group of people than the people I worked with and continue to work at the Daily with.”
Like many of the graduating seniors, Harris was at the Daily throughout the peak of the pandemic; as managing editor, COVID-19 had a huge impact on her job.
“During that [fall 2020] semester, it was when the COVID restrictions were really heavy, and I was really grateful that we got to go into the office for most of the semester before we got shut down towards the end because cases spiked,” Harris said. “It became kind of my social life during that semester.”
Working through the pandemic, Harris said the Daily gave her a sense of journalistic mission.
“I think that it was really unique to have such a purpose during that time. … When things were so unpredictable and so scary on campus, we knew that we were doing our job and doing our job well for as long as we could,” she said.
With the clock ticking quickly on her time left in college, Harris plans to work for a production company in Los Angeles where she currently works part time.
“We do podcasts and TV development … but it’s pretty cool because … I get a lot of different opportunities to work in a lot of different types of projects,” she said. “I think [the Daily has] set me up well professionally because I feel like it taught me how to work hard and work on crunch time and, when things are hard, to keep going.”
Harris is grateful for the opportunities she has had with the Daily and thinks of it as a part of the broader Tufts experience.
“I don’t think Tufts would be the place it is without the Daily,” she said. “Some of the hardest and best things I’ve done at Tufts [were] through the Daily. … I think that the Daily is a wonderful place, and I’m really grateful that I’ve been a part of it.”