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Five Generations of Leaders: “The Outlook’s” Editors-in-Chief

Ninety years of issues has brought scores of student staffs together, all united under the same purpose: share information, break news, and keep it real.

As former Outlook advisor Professor John Morano says, “‘The Outlook’s’ students have the same DNA (Distribute News Always).”

The captains of this paper-made ship are its Editor-in-Chiefs, or EICs. They take on what intimidates many, a feat that is neither a source of envy nor is it glamorous. However, in the spirit of a keeping a printed student-run newspaper alive, they accept the call to action. Little do they know that this experience will prove to be one of the most formative and rewarding times of their lives.

Matthew Cutillo, Editor-in-Chief and News Editor for the fall 2021 semester, reflected on the momentum that brought him to his position as EIC, noting some of the challenges specific to his tenure. “I joined ‘The Outlook’ after transferring to Monmouth University in 2019. I already had previous News Staff Writing experience at the University of South Florida’s ‘The Oracle,’ so I began ‘The Outlook’ immediately as the Assistant News Editor,” began Cutillo. “That year, I fully transitioned into the lead News Editor. Over 2020, I transitioned into the Lifestyles/Managing Editor position, while still maintaining the News Editor role. In 2021, I was elected the Editor-in-Chief. I hope things are better for The Outlook now because we faced serious member-issues in 2021. It was not uncommon for editors to write across multiple sections as it was a tumultuous time for member attendance and participation.”

There are seven sections of “The Outlook,” each ideally managed by one editor. Many of “The Outlook’s” EICs previously wrote for one of these seven sections before taking their editorship to the next level. Nonetheless, Cutillo and the other EICs oftentimes had to juggle several positions if they wanted to make it to print.

“We practically begged journalism students on hands and knees to join us, but we couldn’t generate the interest. Even after Professor Morano explicitly told students they needed a resume outside of class work, they still wouldn’t show,” continued Cutillo.

Cutillo’s successor Abigail Brooks, Editor-in-Chief and News Editor for the spring 2022 semester and last year’s Graduate Assistant, faced similar problems. “My term was odd because there was high editor turnover, especially coming out of lockdown. I was in a position where I was still relatively new and dealing with half of the personnel we needed to run the paper properly, so most of my tenure as EIC consisted of building the paper back from the ground up.”

Nonetheless, the unique challenges Cutillo and Brooks faced were not without their takeaways.
“Getting the paper out every week was a constant reward,” reflected Brooks. “Although it was tough, we all had this common goal of keeping the paper alive. It’s beyond rewarding to see all that stress count towards something larger than any one person.”

Cutillo concurred, “A main takeaway I took from EIC was the importance of generational training… I’ve seen students come in as contributing writers, nearly quit because of low self-esteem, but stick with it and become editors. For example, I saw Isabella Hanna, the current graduate assistant, come in as a writer and climb every single rank she could, all the way to EIC and now a graduate assistant! Being EIC and noticing the passage of time is trippy to say the least. It’s not the naturally gifted writers that make it to the top, it’s the ones that don’t quit!”

Although “The Outlook’s” EICs shoulder a great deal of responsibility, there is no captain without a crew. “During my tenure as EIC, I relied heavily on our advisor, Dr. Vujnovic, my staff, and the graduate assistants, Abigail Brooks and Melissa Badamo. When they say, ‘it takes a village,’ they weren’t kidding; ‘The Outlook’ is no exception to that rule,” emphasized Isabella Hanna, current Graduate Assistant and Editor-in-Chief and News Editor for the 22-23 academic school year.

She continued, “It was, and still is, humbling to be a part of a community that works tirelessly and selflessly week in and week out. Any success I had as EIC I attribute in large part to our staff because, ultimately, they were, and continue to be, the soul of the paper. Now as a graduate assistant, I see the amazing work Gabrielle is doing to make ‘The Outlook’ feel like a family, and I couldn’t be more proud of her and how the newsroom has evolved in my almost four years here.”

Gabrielle Sangataldo is a senior communication student and the current Editor-in-Chief and News Editor of “The Outlook.” She only started at “The Outlook” last fall as she transferred to Monmouth as a junior. In just a year’s time, she climbed from contributing writer to staff writer, then to Entertainment Editor, and now EIC.

“Thus far, I am so incredibly proud of all the hard work the other editors and writers have put in this semester. This year especially we have so many new editors and watching them grow and excel in their positions has made me feel like a proud mom,” Sangataldo underscored. “There are also a lot of new writers who have quickly made their way to the staff list and seeing their passion for writing first-hand has been so inspiring. I’m proud of how I’ve been able to help foster a welcoming and family-esque environment for all our editors and writers.”

For many writers and editors, “The Outlook” is a home away from home; a chosen family that pushes one another to seek the best versions of themselves while working under a united goal.
Melissa Badamo, Editor-in-Chief and Features Editor for the 2020 spring semester and last year’s Graduate Assistant, said, “‘The Outlook’ gave me my career. It helped me grow not only as a student, but also as a person. Of course, I learned almost everything I know about journalism from ‘The Outlook,’ but I also became much more confident and outgoing by putting myself out there and interviewing people; I became a better leader as Editor-in-Chief; and I became a better communicator by working so closely with my fellow editors. My college identity is tied to ‘The Outlook,’ and I honestly can’t thank this newspaper enough for what it’s given me.”