Senior Spotlight: The Mac Weekly Senior Staff
Features, Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight: The Mac Weekly Senior Staff

TMW senior staffers on their final night of layout. Clockwise from left: Kyle Coombs, Anna Pickrell, Anna Van Voorhis, Sophie Nikitas, Sara Staszak, Jonathan McJunkin, Danny Surman. Photo by Naomi Guttman ’16.
TMW senior staffers on their final night of layout. Clockwise from left: Kyle Coombs, Anna Pickrell, Anna Van Voorhis, Sophie Nikitas, Sara Staszak, Jonathan McJunkin, Danny Surman. Photo by Naomi Guttman ’16.

How long have you been on The Mac Weekly (TMW) and how did you get involved?

Kyle Coombs: I wrote a story first semester. I like news.

Anna Pickrell: I started my first semester at Macalester. I started because I’ve always really liked journalism. My first story was about a student, who will remain unnamed, who got maced in the face by law enforcement officers.

KC: That was a really rough night for me.

Sophie Nikitas: I was a late bloomer. Second semester sophomore year I decided that I wanted to get involved with some kind of community outside of my classes and outside of the friends I already had. I emailed the only person I knew on TMW and asked what I could do, and he said Arts needed some help. That’s how I met Maya Weisinger [’12]. The love of my life.

Jonathan McJunkin: I’ve been on the paper since I got here. My first story was about a fence on campus, and my method of reporting this story was to ask random passersby, “What do you think of this fence?” Most of the people didn’t go to Macalester; they were just random people. But I worked on it and it got published…eventually.

SN: My first story was an opinion piece about the film Drive with Ryan Gosling.

Anna Van Voorhis: I got my start because Sophie was like “Arts needs help!” My first article was some interview with a senior art major, and then I interviewed them all that year, and then all next year, and then I was interviewed this year. I guess I’m a late bloomer, but not really because I’m graduating a year early. And halfway through the semester I got made an associate, without my knowledge or consent.

DS: I stopped by TMW because I was in a journalism class with Howard Sinker. He told me “you know, you want some clips, you should write for TMW.” I wrote one article, and then I got cornered by Diego [Ruiz ’12] and Hazel [Schaeffer ’12] who told me “write more!!” and I was intimidated and scared so I said yes. The story was a really shitty thing on Step Forward. Glad that’s done.

Sara Staszak: Fun fact — I wrote a story for TMW my very first semester freshman year about the incoming freshman class — #conflictofinterest. I just made an infographic, which was all those numbers with different fonts — and then I took a screenshot of it because I couldn’t figure out how to save it properly. I sent that JPEG to them. And then I stopped writing for TMW, and then I joined as a design person second semester of my sophomore year.

What skills have you acquired from your time on TMW?

AVV: Well, competency with InDesign takes up surprisingly little space in my resume. I’m like no, you should understand how much I worked on this.

SN: I brought up InDesign in an interview for which I received the job.

Everybody: Holla!

SN: Settle down, settle down, it’s an unpaid internship. But they did bring it up.

KC: Put that in your stuff, admissions!

What’s the latest everyone’s stayed in the office?

AVV: 4 a.m.

SN: 4:45 a.m.

DS: 6 a.m.

KC: I feel like there’s been a 7 a.m. I feel like it’s happened.

AP: The latest I’ve been in the office is 7 a.m., and I don’t do that thing that some people do where I finish TMW and then stay there and do other work. That’s CRAZY.

JM: I…I don’t win. I lose. But there was one time when I was Editor-in-Chief and we did good work but we were not the best at getting done early and so… basically Shasta [Webb ’13] said ‘I have a track meet, can I leave at 3 a.m.?’ and I was like ‘Yes, of course you can leave at 3 a.m.’ And everything seemed to be going smoothly, it was like 5 a.m. and everything’s going smoothly and then of course there was just a colossal InDesign fuck-up so I was in the office fixing it by myself until 7:45 a.m. So that’s the latest I’ve ever been in the office. It was really, really, really bad.

SN: We hung out with some alums a couple weeks ago and they asked us when we were getting out of the office [this semester] and we said 2:30 a.m. and they yelled at us because they thought that we were being too productive.

AP: This semester has been the odd semester out. The latest I’ve been here this semester is 4:30 a.m. and that’s crazy. I mean, 4:30 for 20 pages is unheard of.

For people who don’t know what our office looks like, could you talk about wall quotes and which ones are your favorite? What was your first wall quote?

KC: “I’m not the only ba-dooper!” and then it says “Kyle about the F book.” And Sara says “that’s Facebook.” But what happens in 10 years when Facebook isn’t a thing?

SS: It will become funnier in its obsolescence.

KC: People will think, “what the heck is an F Book and why was Kyle badooping on it?” That’s my fear.

AP: Mine, it was five in the morning and this was when people still cared about our Sabbath rules. It’s kind of a tradition that’s fallen through, but they’re rules where on Wednesday you’re not allowed to shower or have sex. So it was five in the morning and I looked at Diego and he said “We’re almost done,” and I said, “Oh awesome, does that mean I get to shower soon?” And that’s not even that funny! But at five in the morning, pretty much anything is funny.

SN: Mine was when I was confused and I was giving a speech as co-EIC with Anna and I was like, “We’re running as Editor-in-Chieves. Oh, wait, that’s not right. Editors-in-chief, like culs-de-sac.” I felt so cool because I was really insecure about how I hadn’t been on the wall yet.

AVV: You brought it up all the time.

SN: Yeah, I did.

AVV: I was way funnier than the year I didn’t have four wall quotes.

SS: I think being funny impedes you from getting on the wall.

JM: That being said, I, for whatever reason, have been a wall quote machine for four years.

SS: Because McJunkin is not funny.

JM: Because I’m not funny, and also because I’m always in the office and I say strange things. This is my first one ever, and this is a lot of people’s first experiences with me when I was a first year. I had giant headphones on and in the middle of everyone’s conversations I took my headphones off and asked “has it been Easter yet?” Because I was wondering if it had been Easter yet; I didn’t know. That was one of the first times I ever talked in the office.

AP: One of McJunkin’s wall quotes is a feature on the next piece of Mac Weekly apparel. Our shirt is just gonna say, “We can make it unplagiarism!”

DS: My first wall quote I’m pretty sure was the one that I wasn’t awake for. I mean, wall quotes blur together. I’m more interested in what the first wall quote ever was than what my first wall quote was, because it’s just a cog in a bigger machine.

AP: I think it’s important to mention that Danny does this thing where he comes to the office and edits some pages, falls asleep on the floor for a few hours, and then drives everyone home.

DS: I have to earn my managing editor position somehow, because it’s not my article production.

AP: I wonder if the office will still be the office in 10 years. It’s something I think about — is someone gonna paint the walls?

SS: I hope not.

SN: I was meeting with an alum recently and afterwards I found one of her wall quotes, and I sent it to her and she sent it to all of her Mac Weekly colleagues because she thought it was really funny.

What will TMW be like in 10 years?

SN: It’ll be the homepage on my Google Glass.

SS: I would really like TMW in the future to have a karaoke machine. That’s all I want.

Why does TMW turn into a dance party at 3:00 a.m.?

SN: Because how else are you supposed to motivate yourself at three in the morning? It’s literally a dungeon with florescent lighting and horrible ant-filled carpet.

KC: That’s bad, but my first week at TMW, Diego put me in the small closet next to the office.

SS: Oh, the annex!

KC: iMac’s from 2000 — I was like, “Okay, I guess this is the best tornado shelter on campus.” He put me in there because he said “we don’t have any other computers.” My story wasn’t even late! He just put me in there.

AP: We used it for transcribing a lot, it was really useful for that. And then one year we came back in the fall and it was locked. I’ve been asking for the keys all year and people are trying to convince me that I’m making it up. “Oh do you mean the Mac Bike closet?” No, I obviously don’t mean the Mac Bike closet.

Everyone go around and say a section they would add to the paper.

SN: Home and Garden.

KC: Like I suggested in my EIC bid, News and Drank.

SS: I think it would be cool to have an Entertainment section. Sometimes there’s a lot of awkward area between Features, Arts and Food and Drank that I think we could consistently better cover if we consistently had someone be your weekend event planner as a section.

KC: Addendum: we need a weather section right now in TMW. But actually.

SS: That whole Thursday dead-space would be really killer.

What is your legacy at the paper?

SS: I made it an entire semester without making an interactive placemat. Also for my section every week I was prepared to do at least a page, and only one time I had to do less than a page and it was by force.

KC: I have written lots of controversial stories but I’ve only gotten two emails in my time at TMW. I think my ratio there is pretty awesome.

DS: I think I really pioneered some new ground in exploring and pushing new conflicts of interest into TMW; whether it was religion, whether it was politics, whether it was student government, I always found a way to get that little asterisk at the bottom of articles.

AP: “Danny can’t edit this page.” Story of our lives.

SS: That’s actually how he gets naptime on Wednesdays.

DS: There were actually times where I got to take naps because of a conflict and I was excited.

SN: I am the dance captain. That was my Mock name last semester, and I really think that’s true because I get the people movin’. I am really excited to pass on my title to Kate Rhodes [’17], who I name as my soul sister in terms of dance style, so I trust her to carry on the legacy of strange dance.

AVV: Working on the Arts section, for me, has been about making the section look nice and be interesting…. also ads. And sweatshirts.

AP: There’s not a lot that I wouldn’t do for TMW, sometimes we have to stand up for the publication and I like to think that I’ve done that enough times to instill in the younger staff that that’s something we have to do sometimes. My family disagrees, but I don’t think there’s such a thing as loving TMW too much.
Also, I’ve always tried to stress that academics come first with everyone on staff, just so that they know that they don’t have to put TMW first, but it’s always been really nice to see that a lot of times people do. They just do. That’s not my doing, that’s not anybody’s doing. That’s just what’s special about TMW.

JM: A certain staff member once described it as Stockholm Syndrome in a way, because when you think about some of the stuff that you’ve done for TMW it just feels completely irrational . . . It could be that we’re just justifying that to ourselves, but I always feel really good about what we do. We are a student organization, and we do very org sort of things, but we also provide a very important service [to the school]. Every time I see an article of ours on a bulletin board somewhere, or in someone’s room, or when someone shares it on Facebook because it’s personal to them, it feels worth it.

AP: It’s so special to see how much people here care about TMW. It’s not even that everyone does, but the people who do are so gracious about it and involved in it. That’s something that has changed over time; I didn’t feel like that was the case our sophomore year.

SN: I think it was always good, but it gets better every year. Like cheese.

May 2, 2014

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