Student Newspaper Goes High Profile

  • young woman in blue and gold shirt putting up a ponytail, facing right
    “At 5 p.m. in her Tower A dorm, Monica Henderson begins her familiar routine — right sock, left sock, right shoe, left shoe — and ties her turquoise and grey running sneakers. ... Henderson’s rigorous training process is preparing her to run coast-to-coast with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults through their 4K for Cancer program. She and her team of 25 other college runners from across the country will run a total of 4,000 miles over the course of the summer.” (Story by Hannah Schneider; photo by Theo Schwarz)
  • a man in an orange turtleneck with a gold chain necklace and a black hat with a round brim
    “Driving around Allegheny County on a brisk mid-March afternoon, [assistant professor of public health and director of the Violence Prevention Initiative in the Center for Health Equity] Richard Garland refuses to use the GPS in the dashboard of his black Chevy Tahoe. Instead, the car’s screen displayed a zoomed out map and XM Radio’s Soul Town station as Garland made right turns, left turns, wrong turns and U-turns on his way back to Pitt from McKeesport Area High School. ‘I guess we’re taking the scenic route,’ he said.” (Story and photo by John Hamilton)
  • young man in a backwards hat covering his nose and mouth with one hand and raising a peace sign with the other
    “Pittsburgh’s most-wanted graffiti artist, Gems, otherwise known as Max Emiliano Gonzales, now refers to himself as the city’s ‘number one reformed bad boy.’ … Gonzales’ most recent legal graffiti mural can be found in a vacant lot on Penn Avenue, owned by Nicholas Hartkopf between Millvale Avenue and Winebiddle Street.” (Story and photos by Elise Lavallee)
  • woman in ballet outfit bending backwards next to a bar
    “When Annie Martin got out of bed at 5:30 one morning this past December, she could barely walk on her right ankle. This wasn’t completely abnormal — she often wakes up sore from the previous day’s eight hours of ballet training.” (Story by David Leftwich; photo by Thomas Yang)
  • young woman with bright red lipstick and a gold nose ring staring to the right, map of the world in the background
    “Krithika Pennathur set [Pitt club] Unmuted in motion with a Facebook post last summer. … The focus would be wide — sexual assault, relationship abuse, issues in the judicial system and other current events — and the club would allow for discussion and education on these topics as well as offer an online platform for both male and female assault survivors to share their stories.” (Story by Sarah Shearer; photo by Sarah Cutshall)
  • dark skyscape that looks like night but is dim from the eclipse, shadows of people holding cameras
    “The last total solar eclipse in the United States was in 1979, 17 years before Sinjon Bartel was born. So when a total eclipse was set to occur last year Aug. 21, he knew he wanted to experience history. … When he isn’t riding around campus or to various destinations in Pittsburgh, he can often be found in the Bike cave — a small outdoor bike shop where he provides free bike repair training and welcomes anybody to hang out.” (Story by Brian Salvato; photo by John Hamilton)

A runner and cancer survivor. A legal graffiti artist. A political science assistant professor who predicted the result of the 2016 presidential election. These campus community members and more are featured in the fourth edition of Silhouettes — an all-profile, magazine-style special edition of the daily student newspaper, The Pitt News.

cover of Silhouettes, a bright pink background with an outline of a personIn a first, this year’s magazine also features a grand piano called Baldwin and a favorite neighborhood cat, Matisse — such non-human subjects had never been profiled before.

But equally impressive to the stories told and photographs captured is the team who put it all together, said news adviser and Department of English instructor Harry Kloman.

“It’s an enormous amount of work, along with daily publication and all of their classes — plus the occasional social life,” Kloman said. “It never occurs to them that Silhouettes isn’t a part of the newspaper now.” For its regular coverage, the newspaper’s staff has won many state and national awards this year.

Natalie Daher (A&S ’15), the 2014-15 Pitt News editor-in-chief who started Silhouettes, said the special issue was designed to be “an opportunity to illuminate the lives of people across campus who didn’t maybe fit the ‘typical college student’ mold. The people who might not have appeared in a promotional pamphlet for the University” but who all help to shape the place we know as Pitt, she said.

Creating Silhouettes

Fourth-year student and this year’s editor-in-chief, Ashwini Sivaganesh, said Silhouettes continues to be one of the most highly anticipated issues of the year, both for Pitt News staffers and for the University at large. Sivaganesh is expected to graduate with a degree in nonfiction writing and minors in political science and legal studies this April.

She estimated that a team of well over 100 people — from secondary sources to the printers — had a hand in publishing the 24 stories and photographs that made up the edition. Planning for this year’s issue began before winter break.

“The students really do this all on their own, turning to me when they need some advice,” said Kloman. “But this year, Ash and her team just flew with it. They hardly needed anything from me.”

Sivaganesh said it was a labor of love. “The group effort always shocks me. It’s amazing to see that many people so passionate about the work that they’re doing,” she said.

Last year, thanks to funding from the Office of the Provost's Year of Diversity initiative and support from the Student Government Board (SGB), The Pitt News was able to publish Silhouettes as a glossy magazine, rather than just online and in newsprint-style special editions. That presentation continued this year.

“We wanted to showcase the diversity of thoughts, backgrounds and stories that are part of the Pitt community by turning the annual Silhouettes into a nicer magazine,” said current SGB President Max Kneis, who is also set to graduate in April with a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting. “SGB was excited to fund once again due to the great reception.”

Kloman said he hopes the whole University community gives the issue a read. “The chancellor, the provost and the top deans need to see what our students do all on their own.”

“We’re lucky to be situated on an urban campus with so many different types of people. To see a profile-driven project continue to thrive editorially and financially is really remarkable,” said Daher. “I can’t wait to keep watching how future generations of students bring their own ideas for improvement, which is exactly how a project like Silhouettes should go,” she added.

Said Sivaganesh, “It’s definitely stories worth telling, and that’s kind of the whole point.”