DP Board implements restructuring plan

The Daily Pennsylvanian's Board of Directors wrapped up a busy first half of 2014 by adopting an integrated three-pronged strategy focused on building a ‘digital-first’ culture while continuing the DP’s century-plus tradition as a printed daily; ensuring the organization’s long-term financial viability, and nurturing student innovation.

The goal: make the DP the country’s most respected and innovative college media organization, with the products to match.

The Board, which includes five current DP students and four alumni steeped in media and entrepreneurial experience, was created to make the tough, strategic decisions that all-student boards — which change every year — have had trouble making in the past.  This new plan was adopted unanimously by the nine-member Board.

As part of the new focus on digital, the Board decided to cease publishing the print edition of the DP on Fridays starting this fall.  The change allows the students to focus more attention on creating online content throughout the day and on weekends. The Friday print edition was the hardest to get in readers' hands, because many Penn students no longer take Friday classes. One less day of publication per week means less pressure to fill the paper, less time tied strictly to print production, and less money spent printing and delivering a physical edition — all while maintaining current advertising levels. It also allows 34th Street Magazine, which is structured as a weekend magazine, to sit on campus all the way through Sunday.

“We are still The Daily Pennsylvanian and we will still publish daily,” says DP Executive Editor Taylor Culliver. And more of that content will be published online first. “This will be driving a cultural change in our newsroom,” he says. “We are not retreating from print, but creating time to do a much better job online.”

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Taylor Culliver: Restructuring necessary for a strong future

Change really is alive at the DP. We’ve all known for awhile now that our organization was in need of some drastic changes both financially and editorially. My goal from the start of my term as Executive Editor has been to work with everyone across the organization to take the steps necessary to make those thoughts become a reality.

With the great leadership we have in our editors and managers, and the implementation of our new Board of Directors, I’m more confident than ever that the steps we have taken are laying a new foundation for the DP to grow and innovate, be financially sustainable, and above all, offer a better, more valuable experience for our student staff.

We've made several major decisions to change and move the DP forward as we enter the 2014-15 school year, and I'd like to share a few of my thoughts about our decisions.

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Passings: Helen Sessoms, DP typist & ad designer

The DP was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Helen Sessoms on May 9.

Sessoms was a typist and ad designer from the early years of cold type and paste-up through the transition to Macs and electronic ad composition. She worked for the DP for 25 years, from 1979 through her retirement in April 2004.

She is survived by her younger sister, another longtime DP employee, Oreta Richardson -- known to countless DP alumni simply as Rita. Rita and Helen worked side-by-side in the DP composing room for many years.

DP General Manager Eric Jacobs, who first worked with Sessoms as a student and went on to serve as her boss for more than two decades, recalled at her retirement luncheon in 2004 that the production environment at the DP was very different back in 1979: "There was, of course, no Internet. There were no PDF files. There was no assembly of the pages on the computer — because there were no computers! There was only a team of typists who typed all the editorial copy coming from the newsroom, and the ad copy coming from Production, and Helen’s younger sister Rita, who cut and pasted it all together into newspaper pages. Helen worked at night then, before shifting to daytime work to be around the ad staff."

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DP honors Dave Graham’s 20th anniversary

At the DP’s annual staff banquet in January, the organization paused to surprise David Graham with a ceremony to honor his 20th anniversary working at the DP. Graham is the paper's first and only Advertising Director (originally titled Advertising Adviser), and passed the milestone date last July.

DP General Manager Eric Jacobs took the podium “to recognize a special event in DP history which occurred during this past year.” After a moment of misdirection to keep Graham from guessing what was about to happen, Jacobs introduced Graham’s four children and turned the spotlight on the surprised longtime DP adviser while the 170 DP staff members gave him a standing ovation.

Jacobs shared a number of humorous recollections about Graham, going back to his interview for the job. “Dave was the first person I interviewed for the job, and at the end of the interview when I mentioned he was the first interview, he without thinking blurted out, ‘Well, you never hire the first person you interview!’ And I’ve been happy for 20 years that I proved him wrong!” Although, Jacobs added, he had a tinge of doubt on Graham’s first day on the job, when one of Graham’s first acts was spilling a large coffee on the carpet of Jacobs’ office.

“‘Funny Dave stories’ seem appropriate,” Jacobs said, “because Dave is always ready with a joke, a funny quip, or some self-deprecating humor that makes him the butt of the joke.”

But he turned serious to laud Graham’s accomplishments for the DP over many years. “I keep coming back to this core truth: that he has truly helped us accomplish our mission, which is providing students on staff a meaningful learning experience and having them leave Penn with practical skills that will follow them through their working lives.”

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DPAA issues 2013 Annual Report

The DPAA Board of Directors in December published its second Annual Report on the activities of the Alumni Association. The report was sent via postal mail to all DP alumni who have mailing addresses on file with the DP; a PDF version of the report is available by clicking here.

Over the past two years, the DPAA has increased the frequency of online communications with alumni -- via this website, emailed newsletters, and the DPAA Facebook page. But in an effort not to lose touch with alumni who may not regularly follow the DPAA online, as well as to have a place each year to recognize and thank the alumni who have contributed to the DP and DPAA, the Board created this annual report.

Any DP alum who did not receive the mailing should email the DPAA with your current address, or log into this website, following the directions on the home page, to update your own information. Feedback on the annual report, including suggestions for future annual reports, is welcome -- just email dpaa@theDP.com.

Go to the DPAA Home Page

 

28th Marquez conference again brings DP alumni, students together

For the 28th consecutive year, DP alumni gathered on the Penn campus on an early-fall Sunday afternoon to engage, educate and inspire current DP staff members at the DPAA’s Stephen A. Marquez Journalism Conference.

Seventeen alumni -- spanning five decades, from the 1970s to the 2010s -- met with nearly 100 students on a wide-ranging array of topics, from investigative reporting to feature writing to visual storytelling.

Conference organizer Jeff Shafer '06, a marketing executive at magazine publishing powerhouse Bonnier Corp., kicked off the event by introducing the DP alumni network and talking about the relevance of influence of the DP on campus today.

The keynote panel, "Telling the Big Story: Enterprise and Investigative Reporting," brought together a prestigious group of DP alumni: Peter Canellos '84, editorial page editor of The Boston Globe; Robin Fields '89, managing editor of ProPublica; Chris George '05, news designer at The Washington Post; and Mark Hosenball '78, a senior investigative correspondent at Reuters.

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DPAA issues 2012 annual report


The DPAA Board of Directors in December published a first ever annual report on the activities of the Alumni Association. The report was sent via postal mail to all DP alumni who have mailing addresses on file with the DP; a PDF version of the report is available by clicking here.

Over the past 18 months, the DPAA has increased the frequency of online communications with alumni -- via this website, emailed newsletters, and the DPAA Facebook page. The Board felt it was important not to lose touch with alumni who may not regularly follow the DPAA online, as well as to have a place each year to recognize and thank the alumni who have contributed to the DP and DPAA.

Any DP alum who did not receive the mailing should email the DPAA with your current address, or log into this website, following the directions on the home page, to update your own information. Feedback on the annual report, including suggestions for future annual reports, is welcome -- just email dpaa@theDP.com.

Go to the DPAA Home Page

 

Brad Lebo is big in miniature golf

In the world of miniature golf, Brad Lebo is a giant.

The 1983 Penn grad and former DP sportswriter was attending Penn Dental School in 1989 when he joined some friends for a round of golf outside of the city. On the way home, they stopped at a Putt-Putt miniature golf course. His his life hasn't been the same since.

Lebo discovered that the course was hosting its weekly golf tournament. He decided to return the following week to compete himself.

Before long he was traveling with some of the players to other miniature golf tournaments. Two years later, he turned pro. He has played a full tour schedule ever since -- roughly 50 events a year, year in and year out.

"I kind of got full blast into it right away," he says.

"I thought there was a possibility that this could be something I could excel at, because putting was the strength of my golf game. And once I started competing, I developed the skill-set to play well. It just drew my interest from day one."

In 2006, Lebo became the first player in his sport to win the two major tournaments in the same year: the Professional Putters National Championship and the U.S. ProMiniGolf Association U.S. Open Championship.

He has been the Virginia Player of the Year four times and the North Carolina Player of the Year twice.

In all, Lebo has won 89 tournaments and $125,000, including $5,500 in a skins game televised by ESPN. His total earnings would be just a good weekend for Tiger Woods -- but in the world of competitive miniature golf, it's huge, placing Lebo in the Top 10 in career prize money among all active pros.

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From the President

Support the DP & DPAA with a 2013 membership contribution

As we near the end of 2012, the Daily Pennsylvanian Alumni Association (DPAA) has launched our annual membership drive, and I'm hoping I can count on you for your support.

And we're doing several things differently regarding memberships starting this fall. In the past, we required DP alumni to pay annual "dues" to receive all the benefits of membership -- particularly access to the DP Alumni Directory, which we moved online last year. The DPAA Board of Directors has decided that all DP alumni, whether they donate or not, will now have full access to the entire DPAA website, including the Alumni Directory. All you have to do is log into this website. (Instructions for doing so are on the site.) And all DP alumni will receive an Annual Report in the mail before the end of each year.

In eliminating the pay-for-services dues model, we are now simply calling on all DP alumni to make an annual membership contribution to support the DPAA and The Daily Pennsylvanian. While our basic membership remains $35 per year, I encourage you to make the most generous gift that you can. You can click here to make your contribution now, or read on and let me highlight how DPAA membership donations will be allocated:

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DP debuts new mobile app

The DP launched its newest product, a mobile app for Apple and Android phones, at the end of September. A version optimized for the iPad will follow before the end of October. More than 1,700 people have downloaded the app in its first two months.

The decision to move into the mobile space was an easy one for the DP -- almost every student now sports a smartphone and checks it many times throughout the day -- but finding the right mix of features for the DP App posed a challenge.

The simply-named "DP App" pulls together content from across all the DP's publications: the flagship daily newspaper, 34th Street Magazine, the popular campus life blog Under The Button, The Buzz sports blog, and The Red and the Blue politics blog. Editorial content on the app updates in real-time, so when new content is posted to a blog or a new news story hits the DP website, it shows up in the app at the same time. A key feature of the app is its "offers" section, where local businesses advertise short-lived discounts and specials which change throughout the day. Taking advantage of the mobile medium, these "DP Deals" are location-sensitive, showing users the deals closest to their current location.

DP General Manager Eric Jacobs recently talked about the DP's decision to launch a mobile app and some of the strategies behind a major new platform for the organization.

"We actually had an earlier iPhone app back in 2010. It was a very simple news reader, created for just a few bucks, but we never promoted it much and it never gained a large number of users," Jacobs said. "In late 2010 and throughout spring and summer 2011, our strategy instead focused on developing a major revamp of our main website, theDP.com. One of the key technology changes brought in when the site debuted last fall was that it was mobile-optimized -- meaning that it detected when readers were using phone or tablet, and automatically presented them with a simplified layout designed for easy reading on the small screens of those devices."

"For just presenting DP editorial content, the website did a good job, and everything that our first-generation mobile app did -- but better," Jacobs said. "Everyone at the DP agreed we didn't need a mobile app, and we wouldn't do a new mobile app, until we could bring more functionality to users, and until we figured out a better way to generate money from a new platform."

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This is the website for the Daily Pennsylvanian Alumni Association (DPAA), the alumni organization of the University of Pennsylvania's student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. Certain features of this site require a login.

How to use this site

While most content on this website is visible to everyone, DP Alumni must log into the site to view and update their profile information, and to view the searchable directory of alumni. Need to register? Click here.

To read more about how to log in, access members-only services and more, click here.

Member Access



 

Find the DPAA on Facebook   Follow the DPAA on Twitter   Follow the DPAA on LinkedIn

 


 

Michael Silver: Alumni, students on the same page about moving the DP forward

When it came down to the big decisions about how to put the DP on a better trajectory, the votes were unanimous.

As one of the four alumni who sit with five student managers on the DP’s new Board of Directors, I initially feared that our discussions about tough issues could devolve into alumni vs. student camps. I was particularly concerned that students wouldn’t share our desire to control operational costs, invigorate the DP’s online presence and rekindle a spirit of innovation.

My fears were unfounded.

During months of intense discussions, the alums and the students brought different perspectives to the issues, and took the lead on different things at different times. Together, we’re now moving toward a DP better suited to thrive in the digital age.

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Dan Getelman: DP website builder to successful tech startup

It didn’t take Dan Getelman long to make his mark at the DP.

In the middle of his freshman year, he joined the DP's 125th Board in 2009 as the lead online developer. And in his sophomore year, he became associate photo editor. 

But the DP was not his only passion.

He joined with two other Penn students to develop a social networking site called Coursekit.com that would enable professors and students to interact with each other — essentially turning each class into an online community.

In the spring of 2011, with his junior year completed, Getelman took a leave of absence from Penn — he was in a Wharton/Engineering dual degree program -- to focus on his start-up full-time.

“We saw we had something that was working. I felt I had two things I wanted to put my full attention to: One was school and one was work, and it felt like I was only doing half of each,” he said.

For most of the next two years, Getelman and his partners built Coursekit, which received two infusions of money from investors — $1 million initially, and then $5 million — and eventually was rebranded as Lore.com.

Getelman says his time at the DP proved invaluable at the start-up, where he was the chief technical officer and which grew to have 15 employees.

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Passings: James Hertzman '51

James A. Hertzman '51 passed away on January 27, 2014, at his home in Lousiville, KY at the age of 84.

He was a membership development manager for the Better Business Bureau in Louisville prior to his retirement. He began his professional career as the owner of Hertzman's Mens Shop, then went on to work for the Bank of Louisville and the Better Business Bureau. He was recognized for his dedication to salesmanship by Menswear Retailers of America and the Small Business Administration.

His keen vision, love of Judaism, and passion for social justice propelled him to numerous community leadership positions, among them serving as president of Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom -- known as "The Temple", Kentucky's oldest and largest Jewish congregation -- and of the Jewish Family and Vocational Service.

Hertzman is survived by his children, David, Rachel, and Jean Hertzman and three grandchildren.

Go to the DPAA Home Page

 

Passings: Richard Shahan ’49

The DPAA is sad to announce the passing of Richard H. Shahan '49, a former DP reporter, columnist and editor. Shahan, 86, died January 9 in Austin, TX.

Shahan was a World War II Navy veteran of the Pacific campaign. In his four years at DP in the post-war 1940s, Shahan was a reporter, columnist, Junior Editor, Senior Editor, and City Editor. He graduated with a BA in Journalism back in the era when Penn granted journalism degrees. Shahan moved to New York, where he worked for Pfizer, American Airlines, and Alexander & Alexander, and picked up an MBA from NYU along the way.

With his wife, Gloria, he moved to Asheville, NC, where they owned and managed a historical gift store and were active as business community and civic leaders. Many years later, they moved to Austin, TX, where he formed his own communications consulting company, doing PR and marketing work. In the DP Alumni Directory a decade ago, he wrote, "I'm still creating, and still chewing nails & spitting rust at 75."

Several years later, at an age when most people would have long since retired, Shahan went back to school in order to become a teacher. "I decided to make a second career change to a job where I can make a real difference in the lives of children," Shahan wrote in the 2006-07 DP Alumni Directory. "I studied for a year to gain accreditation in my specialized area — U.S. History — that's been my passion for decades. Even at 80, I'm still going strong and love my kids and my challenging work. I can't wait to get to work each day."

Gloria Shahan told the DPAA that her late husband always said he hoped "to be 'the last man standing' — and I guess he almost was!"

Go to the DPAA Home Page

 

Photojournalist Jensen: no 'fancy pictures', just tell the story

 

The images are simple but powerful. Pair after pair of dusty, worn down and ill-fitting shoes. The photographs instantly raise questions. How did the shoes get that way? What happened to the people who walked in them? 

Former DP photographer and columnist Shannon Jensen (Wh '07) was in South Sudan last year, documenting an influx of 30,000 refugees from neighboring Sudan, and beginning to feel frustrated. Here was this incredible tide of human misery yet she did not feel she was capturing it in a compelling or unique way.

One night, as she was looking through her photos, Jensen noticed three members of a family clutching their shoes as they walked.

"That was the light bulb," she recalled in an e-mail and a G-chat from Nairobi.

"I felt that solely depicting the shoes created a universal human connection to the situation that would hopefully encourage the viewer to pause and fill in the blanks. I also felt that the love and care that went into repairing many shoes, and the extent of their wear, conveyed the hardship far more effectively than any portrait could."

Jensen would spend hours a day hunched over shoes with her camera, to bring her idea to fruition. The refugees -- some of whom had walked for weeks in extreme heat -- instinctively knew what she was trying to accomplish, and would line up so she could shoot their footwear as well.

Jensen called the images "The Long Walk." The series has been published around the world, including in Newsweek and The Daily Beast, bringing Jensen international notice.

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DPAA presents awards to students

The DP Alumni Association recently announced four awards for excellence in writing, photography, and business during 2012. The awards were presented to DP students, each of whom received plaques and cash prizes, at the annual staff banquet on January 19.

The Herb Liss Award for Outstanding Business Staff Members of the Year was shared by Front Office staff member Laura Brown, Advertising representative Taylor Culliver, and Circulation staff member Adan Juarez.

For the Photo of the Year Award, three DP alumni who are freelance photojournalists participated as judges: Tracy Gitnick Herriott ’95, from Los Angeles, Evelyn Hockstein ’97, from Washington, D.C., and Shannon Jensen ’06, also from Washington, D.C.

The winner of the 2012 Photo of the Year Award was Justin Cohen, a Photo Editor on last year's Board, for his shot of former President Bill Clinton when visited Penn last fall.

Four DP alumni served as judges for the two writing awards presented by the DPAA: Binaymin Appelbaum ’01, Washington Correspondent, The New York Times; Rebecca Kaplan ’10, Campaign Reporter, CBS News/National Journal; Zach Levine ’07, Major League Baseball Reporter, Baseball Prospectus; and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Ornstein ’96, Senior Reporter, ProPublica.

The Page One Award seeks to recognize the best news reporting -- either first-day, breaking news or enterprise/investigative reporting. The judges were asked to evaluate the importance and thoroughness of the reporting as well as the quality of the writing.

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Two new DPAA Board of Directors members appointed

The Daily Pennsylvanian Alumni Association is pleased to announce its two newest Board members: Nick Plagge '01 and Julie Steinberg '09.

Before graduating in 2001, Plagge held positions as Design Editor and DailyPennsylvanian.com Editor, and sat on the DP Executive Board. He started his career with 4 years on Wall Street trading ETFs on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. After a brief west coast stint, he moved back to the east coast and a year of overseas consulting work in Abu Dhabi. He then returned to Philadelphia, where he helped establish, with his brother and cousin, a real estate investment operation with properties in south-, southwest-, and west-Philadelphia and in Germantown. In the fall of 2011, Nick led that same partnership to establish a center city-based stock trading operation in an effort to capitalize on Philly-based securities industry professionals seeking a trading platform and short- and medium term funding. Plagge's current projects also include a subscription-based real estate investment website servicing the probate investment community, and a business development role at his family's tour operator business. He is extremely excited to incorporate his varied entrepreneurial and finance-related career experiences in his role as a member of the DPAA Board of Directors. He currently lives in south Philly.

Steinberg is a 2009 College graduate. While at the DP, she served as minority affairs and graduate schools beat reporter, Spin opinion blogger and print columnist. She also worked as the film editor for 34th Street magazine. After graduating, she interned at The Wall Street Journal and was hired for its online financial website, FINS.com, as a reporter. She joined The Wall Street Journal's Money & Investing section as a reporter in August 2012, where she now covers private banking and wealth management. 

They replace Steve Klitzman '66 and Justin Schechter '77, both of whom made important contributions to the DPAA Board over the past three and four years of service, respectively.

Go to the DPAA Home Page

 

DP wins two 2012 Pacemaker awards

At the largest college media conference in the country on November 3 in Chicago, the DP was presented with two Pacemaker awards -- widely regarded as the most prestigious awards in college journalism -- for the print newspaper and the paper's website.

The Associated Collegiate Press annually recognizes excellence in college journalism by bestowing Pacemaker Awards to newspapers, magazines, websites, and yearbooks. The awards, which are informally considered the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for college newspapers, generally go to the five publications judged best in the country.

It was the first Pacemaker for the DP since back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008. The DP has now received the Pacemaker Award a total of nine times since 1997, including four consecutive years from 2001-2004.

But the good news for the DP didn't end there. The DP's website, theDP.com, received its first-ever Pacemaker when the awards were announced in Chicago. The website has been a frequent finalist in recent years, but the site's complete overhaul and redesign in fall 2011 led to the website's first national Pacemaker award.

The four other daily newspaper winners were The Daily Northwestern,the Minnesota Daily, the Syracuse Daily Orange, and Penn State Daily Collegian. For newspaper websites at schools with greater than 20,000 students, the DP was one of six winners, along with The Daily Californian, The Michigan Daily, the Minnesota Daily, the Missouri Maneater, and the North Carolina Daily Tar Heel.

You can read about these and other awards on the DPAA website on the Awards page (under the "At the DP" menu above.)

Go to the DPAA Home Page

 

Clemson Smith Muniz: a leader in Spanish sports broadcasting

It is a Monday morning, and Clemson Smith Muniz (C ’79) sounds a lot more energetic on the phone than he did the night before.

On Sunday, the New York Jets had battled the Miami Dolphins in a grueling game that was not decided until a Jets field goal in overtime. Smith Muniz described every excruciating detail as the play-by-play voice of “Los Jets en espanol.”

“That was a tough one,” the former DP co-sports editor is saying.

“The game was sloppy, and the Jets played poorly. I began with the pre-game show, at 12:30 -- and then there was the post-game show. I broadcast for five hours straight.”

He has the DP to blame. It launched him into what would become a career as one of the leading Spanish-language sports announcers in America.

Smith Muniz was among the first sports broadcasters hired when ESPN created its first Spanish-language sister network, ESPN International.

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