The Weekly: A Conversation With Our Editors in Chief

Andrew Golden, Marissa Martinez, and Sneha Dey

For the final episode of Fall Quarter, The Weekly sat down with The Daily Northwestern’s outgoing and incoming editors in chief — Marissa Martinez and Sneha Dey — to discuss the past and future of The Daily Northwestern.

MARISSA MARTINEZ: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Marissa Martinez.

SNEHA DEY: I’m Sneha Dey.

ANDREW GOLDEN: And I’m Andrew Golden. And this is The Weekly, a podcast that breaks down our top headlines each week.

ANDREW GOLDEN: For those of you who don’t know, The Daily chooses a new editor in chief every two academic quarters. For this past spring and fall, Marissa was our editor in chief. But after this fall, Sneha will be the new editor in chief for the next two quarters. So today, we’re doing something a little different. This week’s episode is a live conversation between Marissa, Sneha and I. It’s over Zoom, of course, and in front of The Daily’s staff, who submitted questions for both Marissa and Sneha to answer.

ANDREW GOLDEN: Alright, so without further ado, let’s get into the questions. I’m super excited to do this. So the first question — Marissa, you can answer this one. How did you and Sneha first meet?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: I feel like we first met, obviously through The Daily. And I’m fairly certain — Oh, I remember, I remember, OK. So we did these things called affinity dinners. So basically as DNI chair, I coordinated three dinners for students of color, low-income students and LGBTQ+ students. And then I was at the POC one. And we’re all sitting in a circle. And I think this is like the first time I officially had met Sneha. And then we’re all just, like chatting about being a POC at The Daily and things like that. I got to know her a little bit better. And then I think we started working together, like more officially during DNI stuff. And so that was in the spring of my sophomore year, and Sneha’s freshman year, and then, yeah, that was the beginning, I think, of our Daily relationship.

ANDREW GOLDEN: OK, so Sneha, what do you remember about Marissa? Do you remember this encounter? What do you remember about Marissa from this encounter?

SNEHA DEY: I’m glad you said it first, because I totally, like — that was blacked out in my mind. But, I just remember being like very, very lost because I think that was the first time I had gotten to know the upperclassmen. But yeah, that definitely was our first encounter.

ANDREW GOLDEN: OK, this is another one you have to go back to the memory bank a little bit. This is for both of you guys. What was your first Daily article about?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: I do remember this one, like, so clearly. So it was like October, the end of October. And I was a devo, and I kept trying to sign up for articles, like on the devo Listserv, and everybody kept taking them, and I was so upset. And I finally remember one time I saw Cat Kim had sent out an email saying, “Oh, we need someone to cover Día De Los Muertos. Ideally, someone who speaks Spanish.” I was like, “Yes, finally.” And so I signed up immediately. And Ryan (Wangman) and Cat were like, “OK, you can cover it.” And then I remember I went, I was like, so nervous. I hadn’t spoken Spanish in like a minute. But it was like, I think the first Daily article that was written with, like bilingual interviews, like at least officially, that’s what they told me. So that was kind of cool, you know, for the first story.

SNEHA DEY: My first story was about the sexual assault allegations within the Archdiocese. And so, I signed up for the article — like I had emailed, but I did not realize what the deadline was. And so Amelia Langas texted me, she was like, “So you know, this is due tomorrow, right?” And I was like, “Yeah! I can do that. Sure.” That was my entire day, like running around campus like I’m like, please, please talk to me. It was quite a chaotic day for me.

ANDREW GOLDEN: OK, some interesting beginnings. Marissa, this question is for you. What are you most proud of in your time at The Daily and what has been the most rewarding project that you’ve worked on during your time here?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Honestly, I feel like the most obvious answer is the DNI stuff, just because I feel like, that’s definitely a hallmark of my time at The Daily, and that’s been like, really crucial to, I think not only the way we do things now, but I think kind of like shaping my perspective of what it’s like to be a leader. And what it’s like to, you know, make mistakes and take risks and step outside my comfort zone and things like that on the topic that a lot of us had never learned about formally like, you know, in the Medill sphere, in the education sphere, in high school, things like that. And so it was a huge challenge, I think, to kind of figure out exactly what tone I wanted to take, like what angles I wanted to do, what even topics we wanted to cover. But seeing it grow and evolve and then having amazing people like Sneha join and like other really cool people join the team, I think that’s been like the best part of it in the long run — just seeing it continue to grow and expand and knowing that it’s going to be there after I leave. Which I honestly did not think would happen when I started it. So that’s been a really cool process to watch.

ANDREW GOLDEN: For sure, I know that I’m speaking for everybody at The Daily when I say that that has been so beneficial to us as a newsroom and helping guide us through these past four years while you’ve been here. Sneha, you’ve obviously accomplished a lot, too. I mean obviously, that’s why you’re gonna be the next editor in chief. So what are some goals that you want to achieve as EIC and what are you most excited about?

SNEHA DEY: Definitely. I think first just saying, like going to Marissa’s point, I think the DNI part was just so meaningful for me. And I say this a lot, but it was definitely one of the reasons I stayed at The Daily and those conversations that we’ve had about diversity and inclusion in the media industry and in our own reporting, that’s not something we’re talking about anywhere else in Medill, and so it just was just really meaningful for me to have that space right away with The Daily.

One thing that’s been always really important to me as an editor has been prioritizing mental health and wellness. I think that can be really, really hard at The Daily. I think we have fast turnaround times. There’s a lot to get done and we do do a lot. But I think just maintaining that balance, especially right now, when there’s so much happening in the world, I think figuring out ways to make that part of our newsroom community is something that will be really important to me.

ANDREW GOLDEN: Awesome, awesome. And Sneha, another question I have for you is, you know, how will you try to create a close community on The Daily even in what will likely be a virtual newsroom?

SNEHA DEY: Yeah, definitely. I think it is really, really hard. I think more Netflix parties. I think a lot of that, a lot of editing over FaceTime and Zoom, and I think just trying to get as much face-to-face interaction as possible, even though we can’t exactly be in the same place.

ANDREW GOLDEN: Yes, Netflix. Extremely important. That’s the takeaway I had from that whole monologue right there. Another question I have for both of you guys. Obviously, you guys are both women of color. So how has being a woman of color shaped your experience at The Daily over the past four years? You talked about it a little bit, but could you just go into more detail about what being a woman of color and how that shapes your experience at The Daily?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Well, obviously I feel like that’s I think part of the reason why I wanted to start like the DNI conversations is just because I saw so many people before me get really burnt out by The Daily and be like, “I’m tired of like having the same conversations with White people and like men and like cis people over and over again, like about how hard it is to be on The Daily and like, what it’s like to bring yourself to work every day and like, feel like you’re not being respected by other people on your staff.” And so I’d heard those stories and a few of my friends, like, had those similar narratives about it being really hard to be on The Daily. And so I think that’s like, one of the reasons I started the position, but also at the end of the day, I think it is still really difficult.

But it’s been a good learning lesson overall, on honestly, how the rest of the news industry is going to be, because it is a predominantly White publication, and like, that is something I don’t take very lightly. And I think I’ve made a lot of amazing friends, of course, both friends of color and White friends as well, of course, but I think at the same time, it’s been really more challenging, I think, than I thought it was going to be just because there aren’t a lot of like infrastructures set up to support like people of color and like the EIC position particularly but just in general. There’s not a ton of precedent for that.

And so when things like protests happen, or when, like, national, you know, like revolutions and uprisings are happening and you still have to be a student, and then when you hear everything going on in the world, and you have to deal with that, that is really hard. And I think I learned that especially at the end of May when George Floyd was killed, and I kind of quickly realized how much of a toll that took on me personally and then how I still had to show up the next day for work, and I still had to show up to be an editor, to be a student, to be you know, a family member, a friend, things like that.

And again, I’m not sure what more could have been done to like maybe support me but there isn’t a precedent for that at The Daily or in a lot of college newspapers and that’s something I hope that Sneha is able to take away is that it’s OK to like you know, delegate things when it gets really personally difficult, you know, to be a woman of color or when the world is kind of like seeming to gang up on you, like there are outlets for that. But I think that was something that I hadn’t prepared for — that intersection of being a woman of color and then being the editor in chief, and I think specifically honestly being a Black woman like on campus and like in the country right now is really difficult. And so yeah, it was like I think a lot to take in at once, but hopefully I did a good job despite all that.

SNEHA DEY: Yeah. I, I mean, I just — Marissa, I mean, you’ve just done so amazing and I just, like, I’ve watched you, like, take on so much. And I just, I don’t know, I just really look up to you.

I think one thing I really struggle with is imposter syndrome. And just the idea that I have no idea, like I’ve never really felt like I’ve truly belonged anywhere that I am in and any, like accomplishments that maybe I achieved. I am constantly questioning how I got there and why I got there. And I think I’ve kind of always been in predominantly White spaces. That’s honestly, all I’ve ever known. I think that definitely has impacted my self-confidence and the way I perceive myself, but at the same time, I think it’s also such a big reason why inclusion is just such an important part of everything I do and also I think it’s really helped me understand like, how reporting can really harm communities and how important it is to do right by the people that we’re reporting on. And I just think it just has made me be more intentional in my reporting from the beginning.

ANDREW GOLDEN: Yeah, thank you for both sharing your experiences on that topic and being vulnerable and talking in this space. Another question I want to ask you guys is who have been your most influential Daily mentors that you’ve had and why?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: I mean, I definitely could not have done The Daily without Rishika Dugyala and Troy Closson. Those two are two of my best friends, and I met them like, well, Troy I met through The Daily and Rishika I met through Cherubs, and both of them have just been so influential in the way not only I see the newsroom itself, but also like how I see myself making change. Both of them were definitely the only editors of their race or ethnicity many times throughout The Daily before a lot of us got there. And I think seeing them handle all those issues plus a million other things of just, you know, the chaos of being managing editors and Troy, EIC, things like that, like watching them handle that with such thoughtfulness and grace has been amazing. And of course, they’re just like, really fun people to be around. And they definitely taught me a lot about the battles, you know, you have to pick sometimes. You can’t be mad at everything, you can’t be, you know, upset about things. But at the same time, they are both really celebratory of everything we accomplish and things like that. And also just obviously amazing journalists in themselves, and are going to do great things and have been doing great things. But I think beyond that, just having them be that emotional support, and bring a lot of positivity to The Daily has been really great. And so, definitely owe it all to them.

SNEHA DEY: For me, Syd Stone was a really big mentor for me, I think she really showed me how to like carve out a space for myself and take care of myself while being at The Daily and still continuing to put a lot of work in but also like, take space and being able to like take a step back. Caity Henderson also was city editor the quarter I was assistant city and anything I could do right now is all to her in terms of my writing and even editing. And also a huge mentor for me has also been Marissa and just like watching her really make an impact on The Daily. I think a lot of people enter The Daily space and there are things that are frustrating and there are things that aren’t right and they’ll say that it’s frustrating, but then they’ll just walk away. But Marissa from the beginning just never walked away like, she said, “Hey, I’m going to be here and then for the time I’m going to be here I’m going to make a difference,” and that’s just like, really, really inspiring for me to see.

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Aw, thank you.

ANDREW GOLDEN: I thought that was like a nice moment. I wanted to let that sit for a second. But a couple, a couple more questions before we wrap up here. What is your best memory in the newsroom for both of you?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: I feel like I should be able to pick one moment, but maybe this is a cop out. But I think especially thinking back on the past three years, I think the best nights in the newsroom truly were just the most random ones. I just remember like we were looking at all those stupid Daily videos from the past, just like laughing at how ridiculous they sounded or like, you know, we’re looking up different TV shows and making fun of them. We’d watch like reality shows together like “The Bachelor” and things like that. Ella (Brockway) and I would watch “Veep” sometimes, we’d have like secret meetings in the back. I remember Peter (Warren) and I played like a little typing game one time when we were print managing.

Like, I think truly just the times that we had, like, really random conversations, like, walks home, obviously, were fantastic because we were coming home at like 2, 3 a.m. after putting a paper together, everyone’s exhausted and like, truly, just like the best secrets would come out, like the funniest jokes, like the most random out of pocket things would just be said when we were all delirious after midnight. And so yeah, I think just like I miss, like that sense of community of The Daily. Just like truly you didn’t know what was gonna happen when you walked in. But you always left kind of, you know, either really tired, or just like, wow, these are the people that I choose to spend six hours of my day with every single day. And like, no matter how hard it is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like that kind of feeling is really great.

SNEHA DEY: I would like to say Peter also made me play that typing game, and I did not do well. Definitely I think my favorite memory was probably the last night of pub Fall Quarter. It was just like we stayed up all night, you know, it’s just, it was a good time. I don’t know, I think I always like the last night of pub. It’s like our Daily tradition to like stay up all night and then we go get breakfast the next day. Obviously can’t really do that right now, but I think that feeling of like, taking in like wow, we’ve really accomplished so much this quarter and also just spending time with people. I also feel like Andrea (Bian) and I freshman year, at the end of the night, we would always like walk back really late together, and it would be like 4 a.m., and it was just like talking about The Daily and how much it meant to us. But also just like through The Daily she became one of my best friends, and it’s not really in the newsroom, but I think those walks back was just like, really, really important to me and like becoming really close with her.

ANDREW GOLDEN: OK, this is a very very important question. I think I already know Marissa’s answer to this. What is the best snack from Norris?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: See, if The Kiln was still around, that would be the best snack.

ANDREW GOLDEN: I knew it. I knew it. I knew you were gonna say it.

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Only real ones know. I just, I can’t believe they replaced it with MOD. Disgusting. But I feel like if I had to pick a snack from the vending machine it’d definitely be the Hot Cheetos, even though it makes your stomach acid burn at 1 in the morning, it was just always necessary. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m wrong. You can’t.

SNEHA DEY: I would have picked Hot Cheetos too from that vending machine.

ANDREW GOLDEN: OK, a lot of Hot Cheeto fans. Another question. Also very important. What is your favorite flavor of Dum Dums? That’s very important.

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Oh, root beer, easy.

SNEHA DEY: Mango.

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Mango?

SNEHA DEY: Mango. Mango. I took every single mango Dum Dum in that box. It was all me.

MARISSA MARTINEZ: No, no, the minute I knew Stacia and me — Stacia is the general manager — the minute I knew Stacia and me were homies was when I think I was a sophomore, and I came into the newsroom. And she was asking me about the Dum Dums. I was like, “Oh, like, you know, my favorite flavor is root beer.” And then the next day I go into the opinion desk, I like open the drawer and she left this giant Ziploc bag of just root beer Dum Dums and she was like, “I know how hard you work and how much you love these Dum Dums, whatever. So I just like you know, sorted them out for you,” and like got me this big bag. I was like Stacia! So literally, ugh, queen. Love her.

ANDREW GOLDEN: Root root root beer?

SNEHA DEY: Root beer is pretty strange. I — yeah. Strange.

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Root beer.

ANDREW GOLDEN: You can’t say fruit punch or something?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Fruit punch? For a Dum Dum? OK.

SNEHA DEY: Fruit Punch is my number two.

ANDREW GOLDEN: Yeah that’s my number one! But anyway, we don’t have to get into all of that right now. We can finish so Marissa —

MARISSA MARTINEZ: I don’t know about all that.

ANDREW GOLDEN: I’m gonna ignore it, Marissa. I’m gonna ignore it.

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Lemon lime’s number two.

ANDREW GOLDEN: You said what?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: Lemon lime is number two.

ANDREW GOLDEN: Anyway, Marissa, the last question. We wanted you to impart some wisdom or advice for us, for the newsroom moving forward. So you kind of already did this a little bit a couple minutes ago. Can you give us any advice that you have for the newsroom moving forward and The Daily?

MARISSA MARTINEZ: So during the senior speeches when I was a freshman, I remember… I forgot who said it. But one piece of advice had really stuck out to me at the time, which was “Anyone can do your job.” And I think that was probably a direct dig at somebody rather than like a meaningful piece of advice. But I think over the past few years, like really taken it to heart and kind of twisted it in my own way. Which is like anyone can do your job, but like, you’re the only one who can do it best, or something like that. I feel like I said it better before. But basically what I mean by that is that everybody truly does bring, like so many different perspectives and backgrounds — whether it’s of their friends or their own lived experiences — to the newsroom. And I think the minute we start to, like, truly embrace that as a staff is really when we’re at our best. So when people can write really wacky articles, and they lean into that, and they do that, that’s amazing, or like, when people bring their super awesome technical skills of editing audio and video, like we’re stronger. And like, when people have a community that they really know how to tap into and find all these sources and, you know, find different beats out of it. Like, that’s amazing.

And I think watching all these individual people make The Daily great has been the best part of my time here and seeing everybody bring all their unique assets and backgrounds and skills to the table, I think truly sets us apart from any other newspaper, because obviously everybody has special people. But I truly think like we are some of the most talented journalists but also like the best leaders and the best friends and the best like, collaborators and brainstormers and creative people on campus, and I’m not afraid to say that and so I really think if I had to give advice, it would just be find what you’re really good at. And don’t be afraid to try new things either. Obviously, you know, step outside of your comfort zone. But always be confident in at least one thing that you can do and then do that every time and like, be really great at that one thing or those two things and like bring your all to that because you never know who you might inspire, to you know, try something new. You never know who you might reach when you really dig in deep to like the things that you’re passionate about.

ANDREW GOLDEN: Awesome. Well, Marissa, for me and the rest of the newsroom, thank you so much for all that you’ve done for the newsroom and the wisdom and all the power that you’ve imparted on us. This is a funny anecdote, I remember the first time we walked into The Daily for The Daily open house, you were like, “We’re gonna go together.” The two of us walked in there, you walked to the opinion desk, I walked to the sports desk, looked and then walked right out and didn’t come back for a whole quarter. And I think about that a lot because of your dedication. Like Sneha said earlier, you stuck to it, you knew this is what you wanted to do, and you wanted to make an impact. And I think you did do that. I think everybody in this call who’s listening right now could say the same thing. And Sneha. I’m so happy for you that you get the opportunity to be the EIC. I think they’re in great hands moving forward. And I’m so proud of you. And if there’s anything we can do to help you, please let us know. But with that, that ends The Weekly. Thank you so much for joining us, and we’ll see you next time.

ANDREW GOLDEN: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Andrew Golden. Thanks for listening to another episode of The Weekly. The audio editor of The Daily is Alex Chun. The digital managing editors are Molly Lubbers and Jacob Ohara. The editor in chief is Marissa Martinez.

Email: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Twitter: @andrewcgolden, @snehadey_, @mar1ssamart1nez

Related Stories:
Medill junior Sneha Dey named The Daily’s next editor in chief
The Daily Northwestern’s Fall Quarter 2020 Diversity Report

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