Arougheti: Five ways to say “I love you” on the city desk

Ilana Arougheti, Senior Staffer

In many ways, everyone who’s written for the Daily Northwestern in the last hundred years or so has the same story — the epic highs of laughing on the couches between rewrites, the crushing lows of editing on the third floor of Norris until the sun rises. For better or for worse, I’m so happy I was able to be part of the never-ending story of The Daily for the past four years — and learn so much about Evanston in the process.

Writing and editing during the COVID-19 pandemic my sophomore year, I’ve often said that I feel as though The Daily saved my life. Sophomore winter was my first time on the editorial board, as Development and Recruitment editor with the fabulous Haley Fuller (Medill ‘22, MSJ ‘23).  No matter what was going on in my quarantined personal life, by six o’clock Haley and I had to be ready on FaceTime.  I felt really grounded by the acts of reporting and producing. Since then, I’ve served as copy chief, D&I chair, housing issue editor, assistant city editor, co-city editor and In Focus editor. My real love affair, though, was with the city desk. 

My city quarter was definitely my most rewarding on the Daily, even though it was a blur. I was in the unique position of getting to work as one of two city editors, and I still share at least half of my brain with fellow Spring ‘22 city editor Jorja Siemons. I had such a great time over the years covering education, policing, city council, arts, queer issues and especially housing. It was awesome getting to pass that passion on by editing, budgeting and sharing coverage on my favorite beats. Working on the city desk generally took me outside of my Northwestern bubble and taught me more about Evanston, and about empathy. I learned that writing ten million pitches is a fantastic way to quell my anxiety, and while I think city editing was the hardest thing I ever did, I’m sticking with it as a career, at least for now.


The city desk, and the Daily in general, attracts some of the most caring weirdos you’ll ever meet, and I can think of no better way to say goodbye than to let the world in on some of the ways city writers tell each other “I love you,” inside and outside of the publication cycle.

1. Volunteering to write a city council recap 

I never thought I would be so fond of the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. And yet, spending hours at the council chamber press box chugging Yerba Mates and listening to passionate public comments appealed to my nosy side and gave me a stronger grip on what Evanston residents really care about. Having sealed my friendship with co-editor Jorja Siemons at a meeting, I know I’m not the only one.

2. Going Biss-spotting around Evanston

City editors in the class of 2023 and beyond have spoken in depth to and about Mayor Daniel Biss, and the relationship becomes somewhat of a desk-wide obsession long after you’ve received your final post-midnight mayoral text message. Whenever one of us spots Biss’ iconic silver mane at Coffee Lab, Fountain Square or (allegedly) Dillo Day, the excited texts to other city folks only affirm our collective nerdy brain rot.

3. Telling your city editor roommate you’ll never write a story for them and then becoming a city editor a year and a half later

“Sometimes you just end up rooming with someone who knows the power of the city desk before it’s ever revealed to you.” – Jacob Fulton, my brilliant and lovely roommate who slowly converted me into a city desk nerd just so we could finally geek out about local politics together. It’s been fun. 

4. Visiting a local business after covering it for the desk 

From Picnic to Philz to Pasta Luna, Evanston’s best bites taste just a little bit better when you’re sharing them with someone who once helped you break some delicious business news. Bonus points if you fade into a reverie together when you hit the first farmer’s market of the year (long time no see, Fred’s Bread). 

5. Making tea for another writer after an event story

Sometimes it’s important to remember that the Daily is just a workplace, but other times it’s great to lean into the inevitable sense of family. Running a fresh Keurig brew to a writer trudging back from a school board meeting, a festival or yet another Robert Crown ice rink interview was always one of my favorite reminders that as a city desk writer, we actively and consciously find community not only at Northwestern, but as an Evanston resident and most of all with each other.