The Story Behind Our Stories

Although “The Outlook” is proud to have students, and students only, run the 90-year-old newspaper, there exists a shadow-like lifeline responsible for bringing their work to a level of national-distinction: “The Outlook’s” faculty advisors, Professor of Journalism John Morano and his successor Professor of Journalism Marina Vujnovic, Ph.D., APR, the only two in the newspaper’s history.

See, the student journalists representing the newspaper are, after all, only students— not experienced professionals with accolades and well-known reputations. “The Outlook” likewise hails students of all academic disciplines and abilities to its pages. Notwithstanding this, the advisors would argue that this is exactly what makes “The Outlook” special: its diverse student-volunteers who are driven to write solely by their commitment to the campus community.

“Besides all the weddings, with one imminent, and seeing the personal success of the many members of the paper, there are three, I feel, defining moments for the publication that I take great satisfaction in,” reminisced Morano. “I served as faculty advisor to the paper during Superstorm Sandy, 9/11, and the COVID-19 pandemic. In every one of those instances, with completely different staffs, the students, who could have easily suspended publication, many universities did, chose to continue covering the news. In all three instances, we never missed an issue because the students were committed to providing vital information to the University community.”

According to Morano, “The Outlook’s” accomplishments don’t stop there. He explained, “In each of those years, the American Scholastic Press Association selected “The Outlook” as University Newspaper of the Year, nationally. So, not only did the students press on when faced with several of the most challenging events in our recent history, they did so at the highest level imaginable and were recognized for that achievement by a top-shelf independent competition.”

While Morano reflected on the larger accomplishments of the newspaper, Vujnovic took a more micro perspective as current advisor, saying, “I’m proud of my students when we put the paper together every week; I’m proud of them when they win awards; I’m also proud when they graduate, even though I miss them, and when I hear that they are doing great things out there in the ‘real world.’ Everyday moments like these are my proudest moments.”

Morano served as faculty advisor for 33 years until the fall 2021 semester when he passed the baton to Vujnovic. In their combined almost 36-year tenure, they have nurtured and guided hundreds of student writers as they navigate the newspaper’s changing landscape, one of which is challenging the University’s push to move “The Outlook” entirely online.

“It’s not important for a print copy of the paper to be available to the University community, it’s vital. Having a print version allows ANYONE to see the paper. No cell phone, no laptop, no plan subscriptions, no tech issues. ANYONE can see the content of the paper and take it with them. It democratizes the availability of information,” emphasized Morano. “Additionally, the paper is, and has been for years, also available digitally… But because it is available digitally the circulation/readership numbers are collected. They suggest that the preferred vehicle for reading the paper is still the print version, and it’s not remotely close. Also, students do not walk into class when they get on the front page waving their phones, but they often step into the room proudly holding the print paper.”

“Student papers have always served, and still do, an important role in fostering democracy on American college campuses. In fact, based on the news headlines, having a healthy student paper on campus might be more important than ever considering that local press is decimated by the private equity firms around the country,” agreed Vujnovic. “Student papers are shining stars in the pitch-dark sky above the American ‘news deserts.’ I am incredibly grateful that we have had “The Outlook” for 90 years and it’s still going strong…It will continue to do so as long as there are students and a community of people who need their voice heard.”

However, this is not to say “The Outlook” has always enjoyed the support of its community members, explained Vujnovic. Rather, it’s in spite of challenges to the organization that “The Outlook” has thrived. She continued, “It’s special because we have special groups of people year after year, semester after semester, caring to continue this important work even when, most of the time, they only hear criticism and seldom any praise. It’s tough to show up every week for everyone, rain or shine, to make sure this important organ of our campus democracy functions well and serves its purpose.”

While Vujnovic considers “The Outlook” a beacon of light on campus, others would describe her as the beacon in the newsroom. Melissa Badamo, last year’s Graduate Assistant and former Editor-in-Chief and Features Editor, said, “She, too, put her all into “The Outlook,” and even stayed late with us in the newsroom on Tuesdays to help edit and lay pages, which is just incredible. She goes beyond what it means to be an advisor.”

Matthew Cutillo, former Editor-in-Chief and News Editor, shared a unique experience with Vujnovic. He explained, “Dr. Vujnovic became ‘The Outlook’s’ new advisor as I entered my Editor-in-Chief (EIC) semester, so it was an unprecedented time when both the EIC and advisor were completely fresh. Right away, she identified some easy steps ‘The Outlook’ could take to modernize. In that one semester, she worked tirelessly to re-do Outlook furniture, antiquated office equipment, and shift ‘The Outlook’ website to WordPress, which newly allowed our articles to appear in Google searches and have mobile versions for articles.”

“Had she not been there to pick up the baton, or should I say laptop, I don’t think I could have left,” concurred Morano. But she is here and she’s wonderful. The paper has a journalist standing beside it, someone who is deeply dedicated, remarkably bright, and is as dependable as a sunrise. Judging from what I’ve seen since I left, I’m excited about the future of the paper. Ninety years of keeping it real is nothing to sneeze at, here’s to ninety more.”