Posts tagged ‘Jim Zarroli’

Happy 125th Anniversary, Daily Collegian

Generations of Collegian editors-in-chief, posing for posterity at the 125th anniversary dinner.

Leave it to NPR business and financial reporter Jim Zarroli to sum up why so many alumni of The Daily Collegian got together last weekend to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Penn State’s independent student newspaper.

Zarroli ’79, the keynote speaker at Saturday night’s banquet, told the story of his years at Penn State, when he arrived as an uncertain freshman who wasn’t sure where he belonged … until he found himself on the Collegian staff. There, he began growing into the professional he is today because, he explained, “We weren’t just learning journalism. We were doing it.”

But he got something else from the hours and hours he spent reporting and writing and just hanging out in the Collegian office. Said Zarroli, “It really became my home.”

I knew the feeling—both of them, really. (I appeared in a house ad for the Collegian in the mid-1990s, and the copy read something like, “Everything I needed to know about journalism, I learned at The Daily Collegian.” Still true.) And I know each of the other nearly 200 alums who were listening to Zarroli could identify, too.

There’s an immediate kinship among various generations of staffers. It doesn’t matter whether you laid out the paper with the latest version of Quark or wielded a photo wheel and an Exacto knife. Or whether your first assignment was to ask people sitting on The Wall along College Avenue where they bought their pot (true story, related Friday night by a 1970s alum) or, as was true for some students last year, you jumped right into covering the biggest news story in Penn State’s history.

I’m sure there’s a similar feeling among students and alums devoted to other activities. (One of my best friends, Laura Eckert Thompson ’92, made that point in this column geared toward incoming freshmen in a 1991 Collegian magazine.) But one of the things I loved about the Collegian is that although our group was tightly connected, we were never insular. We had to know and understand the other student groups, the other students’ concerns. We felt a true responsibility to the rest of the student body—we were their newspaper.

Which is part of what got last year’s staff through the late nights and long days covering the Sandusky scandal and Joe Paterno’s death.

At a panel Saturday morning featuring 2011-2012 staffers, Anna Orso, now managing editor, then the cops reporter (and a student in my news writing class), explained that the staff believed their role was “to tell the narrative of the student body.” Current editor/last year’s managing editor Casey McDermott told of how they explained the legal terms in the first print paper, realizing that most students wouldn’t know them. (At the time, I commented on what a great idea that was.) Last year’s editor, Lexi Belculfine ’12, said the opinion page was a place “to urge our peers to think critically.”

Here’s the commemorative T-shirt: every masthead in the newspaper’s history. My era: fifth from the top.

The news staff showed their story budgets and other planning documents (click here if you’re a news nerd and want a look), told how the opinion editor, Jordan Cole ’12, became a de-facto psychologist for the upset alumni and students who wrote or even called, just wanting to talk to someone, and related how they blew off the national editors who called wanting story tips and tried to sweeten the deal by saying they’d be sure to remember the Collegian kids the next time they had a job opening.

Of course the students would have none of that. No Collegianaire, from any era, would have. What an insult. I’m insulted again, just writing that.

Staffers from the business side spoke, too, explaining how they kept advertising as constant as possible during the scandal and sold thousands of commemorative newspapers. (As Amy Zurzola Quinn ’94 tweeted, “If these students could keep biz afloat, keep advertisers during scandal, just THINK what they’ll do when you hire them.”)

Last weekend reminded me what a great tradition I’m part of. The entire staff of the 2011-12 staff was inducted into the Collegian Hall of Fame. They were joined by Larry Foster ’48, a former managing editor; Jane Murphy Schultz ’43, the first female editor-in-chief, who died in 2010; and the wife-and-husband team of Roberta Hutchinson ’48 and Allan Ostar ’48, who were the other stars of the weekend.

The Ostars donated the first scholarship earmarked solely for Collegian staffers, and it’s easy to see why they feel so connected. They met there. When they stood to be recognized, Allan said, “They say some marriages are made in heaven. This marriage was made at The Daily Collegian.”

Wild cheers and applause, of course. Possibly a few tears, as well.

I’m going to give the last word to Lou Bell ’29, a former Collegian editor who wrote an amazing final column, what the students now would call a “senior send-off.” General manager Patti Hartranft quotes it a lot, and no wonder:

Whether it be by the decree of Fate or Circumstance or Death, there must come an end to every joy. There must come a time when the standard-bearer must release his fingers from the banner that he had so ardently striven to hold aloft, when he must pass the banner to other hands, reluctant to give it up but confident that strong and willing hands will keep it afloat and speed it forward until still other hands clutch it. That runs the eternal cycle.

We are proud that the banner still floats, that it goes ever forward. Plainly speaking, we are confident that the new editorial and business staffs of the Penn State Collegian are competent and willing enough to carry on—and on—and on. To our successors, congratulations, good fortune, good heart.

And, above all—good heart.

That, as far as I’m concerned, says everything.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

October 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm 4 comments

Jim Zarroli Talks Shop in Texas

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Photo by Sarah Groman

National Public Radio’s Jim Zarroli ’79, who hosted a roundtable discussion for us last week on college affordability, was down in Texas on Tuesday to give a lecture at Baylor University on business ethics and corporate governance.

A Baylor publication called The Lariat carried a student-written account of his talk, as well as a short Q&A in which he talks a bit about his  career.

Zarroli, who majored in journalism at Penn State, covers business and the economy for NPR; in recent years he has reported on the Enron debacle, Martha Stewart’s legal problems, and the Bernie Madoff scandal, among other stories.

The roundtable he hosted for us last week will appear in the January-February issue of The Penn Stater.

Tina Hay, editor

October 30, 2009 at 9:08 am Leave a comment

Jim Zarroli Leads a Roundtable for Us

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We held the roundtable in Robb Hall of the Hintz Family Alumni Center. (Click to see bigger version.)

A project I’ve been working on for the last several months finally came to fruition today, when a group of key campus leaders came to the alumni center to talk about college costs and affordability.

Penn State has long prided itself on providing an affordable education to the sons and daughters of the working class—that’s what a land-grant school is supposed to do, after all—but that mission is a tough one to uphold in the face of shrinking state appropriations, a nationwide recession, and other challenges.

DSC_7331 sm Jim Zarroli

NPR's Jim Zarroli ’79 moderated the discussion.

So we brought together some major players to discuss these issues in Robb Hall at the Hintz Family Alumni Center, and we were especially happy to have NPR business correspondent Jim Zarroli ’79 drive in from New York to moderate the discussion.

The panelists were Anna Griswold, executive director of student aid at Penn State; Don Heller, a faculty member in the College of Education and director of Penn State’s Center for the Study of Higher Education; Gavin Keirans, president of the University Park Undergraduate Association; Rod Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations; and Rob Pangborn, vice president for undergraduate education.

DSC_7390 sm Don Heller Anna Griswold

Don Heller and Anna Griswold were among the five panelists.

What did they talk about? I don’t know—I was too busy running around with a camera and periodically stopping back to make sure the audio recorder was working. I did catch some bits of conversation about how facilities construction and upgrades at Penn State are funded … about the role of the University’s capital campaign in raising money for more scholarships … and about the latest news out of Harrisburg about Penn State’s appropriation and how it may hinge on casinos adding table games.

I’ve already shipped the recording off to a transcriptionist, who will return it to us as a text document; from there we’ll edit it down and print it as a feature in our January-February issue.

Tina Hay, editor

October 19, 2009 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

In the Courthouse with Bernie Madoff

NPR business correspondent Jim Zarroli ’79 was at the federal courthouse in Manhattan today for the long-awaited court appearance by Bernie Madoff—whom Zarroli calls “the most reviled man in New York City, and perhaps the country, right now.” Madoff pleaded guilty today to fraud, money laundering, and other charges related to an alleged multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. He went off to jail pending sentencing. Here’s a pretty interesting seven-minute piece on NPR’s Planet Money, in which Zarroli talks about what he saw today.

Tina Hay, editor

March 12, 2009 at 8:19 pm Leave a comment


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