Special

From The Tartan's Former Executive Officer

Nobody believed me when I told them I had the greatest job on campus. As the Executive Officer of The Tartan, I inherited an organization that was heavily in debt, where a significant number of the staff had quit following the ?Natrat? scandal, and whose name had been heavily disparaged not only on campus, but in the greater Pittsburgh community and even in the national press. This was an organization that was the lowest point in its history, that was understaffed and required a significant amount of work to get back on its feet. Yet I was convinced that there was no better way to make a significant impact on the campus community and to really make a difference. So I ignored my friends? advice and joined the organization.
In many ways I am immensely proud of how far the Tartan has come in the past semester. I have harped on this point in my Executive Privilege column and I?ll try not to repeat myself, but the dedication of this staff has amazed me. While The Tartan has grown in many ways, I?d like to focus on how we dealt with the Commission?s report and the changes we have made.
The Tartan Commission Report represented the collective effort of a group of community leaders who had seriously analyzed The Tartan. Reading their recommendations provided me with new input on how to change and grow the organization along each charge that they presented. At the same time, I was trying my hardest to understand The Tartan myself. I was new to the organization and I wanted to figure out how best to improve things. As a result, I formed a task force of my own, charged with going over every single one of the Tartan Commis-
sion?s recommendations.
This task force met weekly and grew to be so large that I split it in half. Each of the two groups sat down with me and discussed one or two of the Commission?s recommendations. I asked both senior members of The Tartan?s staff and younger members who were interested in The Tartan?s future to participate in these discussions. I learned from them the paper?s history and the staff?s own goals for the paper. Following these meetings, I would decide on a course of action in response to these recommendations and discuss that with the entire editorial staff.

These meetings helped guide The Tartan in a new direction. The Commission?s report provided a significant baseline upon which we could discuss the problems of the organization and ways to address them. As a result, I feel proud that we were able to directly address some of the recommendations. The Tartan more than doubled its staff, created an environment which reduced turnover, and invested heavily in our staff. We focused on internal development and training and worked so that our staff felt like they had a voice within the organization. Our finances were stronger last semester than they have been in years, and, while all the checks aren?t in yet, it appears that we were able to balance our budget for the first time in quite a while. We held an open forum for the community to talk about issues related to The Tartan, and our Ombudsman took an active role in soliciting input from the community. Finally, we met with Commission members at the end of the semester to talk about some of the changes we had made and our plans to continue this work in the future.
The Tartan has changed a lot in one semester, and I truly believe it?s one of the most exciting places to work on campus. While we focused on the commission?s second charge, I personally hope that the campus community will eventually perform a similar reflection with regard to the third. Just as The Tartan benefited from a serious look at its faults, so too would the community grow from a serious approach to its problems. The Tartan has come a long way and still has a long way to go. It is time for the campus as a whole to look at Charge 3 and begin to discuss it seriously.