As The Rocket continues to move further away from its traditional print roots, incoming staff members for the 2018-19 academic year will be entering a transition between eras like the paper has never seen. In 2018-19 no staff member will have ever printed every week, which ended following the 2015-16 issue of The Rocket, and there will only be two members who were on staff in 2016-17.
The Rocket’s adviser, Dr. Brittany Fleming, will be entering her second year as adviser to both the paper and WSRU-TV. Fleming said that she expects the same out of the new staff as past staffs.
“It’s going to be going through that process of training all the editors again to do everything the way things have been done in the past and holding them to the exact same standard that The Rocket has always been held to,” Fleming said. “It’s just going to be a big year of learning and training and getting into the flow of things.”
Departing from the staff are three-year staffers Cody Nespor, editor-in-chief, and Victoria Davis, copy/web editor. Nespor and Davis graduate with fellow seniors Dan DiFabio, news editor, and Justin Kraus, sports editor. Other non-returners are assistant campus life editor Megan Majercak and advertising manager Miranda Morgan.
Leading the 2018-19 Rocket staff will be senior digital media production major Eric Davies. Davies, a Dallas, Pa. native, will take over as editor-in-chief after two years as The Rocket’s multimedia editor.
Davies will enter his third year on staff alongside Megan Bush, who will continue to serve as campus life editor for her third year.
Davies said he is excited by the staff that has been put together for next year.
“We’re getting all of our editors back and they all did a great job this year and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t excel in the editor position even though many of them were assistants this year,” Davies said. “I think the hiring process went really well and we really got the best people for the positions.”
Davies and Bush will be the last two staff members who will ever have worked under the paper’s former adviser, Dr. Mark Zeltner. Zeltner advised The Rocket for 19 years before resigning from the position prior to this year.
Bush said that Zeltner had a stronger emphasis on the traditional print version of The Rocket and it is up to her and Davies to carry on that mindset as The Rocket becomes more and more digital.
“I think as the last two staffers who served under Dr. Zeltner, I feel that we need to keep that love for traditional print alive,” Bush said.
Moving into editor positions will be second year staff members Adam Zook as news editor, Steve Cukovich as sports editor, and Heather Donat as copy/web editor.
Zook, a junior journalism major from Tyrone, Pa., will be joined by sophomore secondary education English major Hannah Shumsky serving in her first year as assistant news editor. Zook said he has learned a lot from a year working with DiFabio that he is excited to use as an editor next year.
“Of course there’s the technical skills you always learn, but I think I’ve learned some managerial skills from Dan,” Zook said. “There’s things I want to focus on, especially when reaching out to contributors and trying to motivate them to produce quality work and get better throughout the year. I think I’ve become a better motivator.”
Paris Malone will return for a second year as photo editor. After a revolving door of assistants this year, Malone will joined in the photography section by newcomer Jack Hopey. Lauren Ault will move from assistant photo editor to advertising manager for next year.
Other rookie staffers will include Oscar Matous, assistant sports editor, Hope Hoehler, assistant campus life editor, Sarah Allen, assistant copy/web editor and Tom Fabian, multimedia editor.
Davies said that despite the staff turnover and the changes coming to the paper, he does not see this as an ending to the high standards that The Rocket has had.
“I think it’s the starting of a new era, but I don’t think that necessarily means anything will be worse,” Davies said. “I think it’s going to be a new time for the paper. A time when we are less dependent on print but we aren’t any less motivated to go out, find out what’s happening on campus and report that to our readers. While our medium is changing, what we have to do isn’t.”