Executive editor bids farewell to the NI


Executive Editor Gabrielle Leitner bids farewell to The Northern Iowan.

Gabrielle Leitner, Art Director | [email protected]

During my time at UNI, few experiences hold as much value or importance to me than my employment at the Northern Iowan.

I began as a staff photographer, taking any and every event I possibly could. My first event was a 2016 Presidential Debate watch party held at the Octopus. During my time at the NI, I’ve made over 200 contributions to the paper between photos and the occasional article or opinion piece. I’ve found my joy in layout and design, having designed seemingly countless pages of the paper in my 2 and a half years as an editor.

It has honestly been such a joy to work with such wonderful people. The NI has connected me to some of my favorite people and allowed me to cover big moments throughout my time here. 

It should not come as a shock that my most fond memories out of my time at UNI are often those associated with the NI. Highlights include UNI’s win against Lamar in 2018, covering the UNI/Iowa State season opener, any homecoming event, countless musicians and TheatreUNI shows, just to name a few.

I’ve worked at the NI all while UNI saw a new university president in Mark Nook (as well as him single-handedly bringing spring to campus year after year), changes on College Hill, visits from prominent figures, many accomplishments in academics and athletics and a global pandemic that caused an unprecedented shutdown of campus. You could say that I’ve seen a thing or two during these 4 years. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help and companionship from a lot of people, however.

Quite a few thank-you’s are in order in lieu of my graduation.

To Michele Smith, thank you for your constant support and confidence. I could always count on you for advice, a funny story and a great lunch (chicken ladies for life!). It has been a pleasure to work with THE Michele Smith.

To Sierra Steen, thank you for your friendship and help throughout my time as an editor. I will never forget our online bowling class. You are a living meme and I miss your meme histories (that will forever live on my Snapchat Memories). I know you will be an excellent and compassionate teacher and our friendship has truly been a highlight.

To Chris Martin, thank you for your help and guidance throughout my time as executive editor. You will never know the extent of my appreciation for all that you have done for me and the NI staff.

To Karina Valdivia, thank you for all of your hard work in the office. I loved coming down and seeing you, hanging out, having lunch together and just talking. You are a rockstar and a great friend.

To Elizabeth Kelsey and Sofia Legaspi, thank you for everything you have done for the paper. Having people like you on my staff make work so much more enjoyable.

To Gabi Cummings, thank you for all that you have done as art director. You have been great to work with and talk to. I know it sucks that this year got cut short, but you did a lot of great work and it has been fun working with you.

To Cece Mitchell and Colin Horning, I appreciate all of the work that you all have put in during the time that I’ve gotten to work with you. Again, it sucks that the paper got cut short this year, but you’ve done a lot of great work and it has been great to work with you.

To all of the former editors that I’ve worked with, thank you for setting a great example of what a good leader, manager, writer, photographer and editor looked like. We’ve had a lot of great times, we’ve covered a lot of events on campus. I’m glad I got to do those things with people who share the same passion for news as I do.

To all of the past and present staff writers and staff photographers that I have worked with, without you, we would not have a Northern Iowan to publish. You are an important part of the NI, don’t forget that.

To all of my professors, friends and family who supported me throughout my time at the NI, thank you for taking interest in my activities. It has been so fun working at the NI and I’m glad I got to share that with you.

Lastly, to Emma’le Maas, my successor, you will do great. Remember that you have a lot of resources and everyone wants you to succeed. Take advantage of the help. I’m also a phone call or text away.

It’s easy to get in the headspace of thinking the work I am doing is insignificant. A professor once reminded me how important campus publications are as a service for the present and an artifact for the future. When it was announced that campus would be closed for the rest of the semester and the NI would not have any more print editions, I was devastated. It would have been easy for me to brush off all of my responsibilities at the NI, but thinking about future students, faculty and community members possibly searching through university archives for information on what it was like at UNI during the COVID-19 pandemic makes it worth it to me.

Working during the pandemic hasn’t been easy and this doesn’t feel like a proper ending to my college career and time at the NI. However, the memories and experiences I got to have during these past four years will be cherished forever. To anyone who might be interested in getting involved with the NI, I can’t recommend this experience enough. Thanks, UNI, and thanks, Northern Iowan, for a great four years. Go Cats!