Gina Santoro reflects on her time at The Anchor
Updated: Apr 18
Editor's note: For full disclosure -- Gina Santoro, the former editor in chief interviewed for this article, is also Isabella Santoro's mom.
The Anchor has been Rhode Island College’s student-run publication for nearly 100 years. During this time, the organization’s main goal has been to be the eyes and ears of RIC’s campus community. In that nearly 100 years, The Anchor has been under the leadership of many different editors in chief. Gina Santoro, who formerly went by Gina Sabetta, is a current professor of English at CCRI and was editor in chief of The Anchor during her time at RIC
Santoro, who wanted to become a journalist, served as editor in chief during 1985 and still remembers her time at the publication, telling The Anchor in a recent interview, “I can still remember the feeling of being there, nearly 40 years later.”
Throughout her time at The Anchor, Santoro was in different positions, first joining as a freshman, which she said “included assignment editor, [and] writing for arts and entertainment.”
“Then, I was editor in chief,” Santoro added. “Working for The Anchor was one of the major highlights of my educational career. I gained extremely valuable and real world experience while writing for The Anchor.”
Newspapers nowadays produce their content differently when compared to the 1980s. This is also the case for The Anchor, which is now predominantly a digital publication.
“We used typesetters,” Santoro said. “We didn’t have a fully computerized system yet. Using codes, this was very tedious. We had to print, cut, and paste the works on grids. We used X acto knives to make it more neat and tidy. I believe the Providence Journal may have typewritten them for us. Because we didn’t have a big computerized system, it took a very long time. We wouldn’t be putting the paper to bed until 2 a.m.”
The type of equipment utilized was just one of many differences when cranking out stories at The Anchor then compared to now. Other differences Santoro listed includes how the print copies were distributed and where their office was located.
“We actually didn’t distribute our own papers,” Santoro said. “The Providence Journal did it for us. Thursday or Friday was publishing day back then. We had a very dedicated crew and we didn’t stop until we were done. We were there late, until 1 or 2 in the morning. Our office used to be in the Student Union, on the second floor. Just one big room, nothing fancy. This was very labor intensive. We did a lot of work. AP style was difficult to follow too, but it was so much fun!”
Santoro also explained challenges she faced during her time at The Anchor such as finding stories that were relevant and fresh.
She said, “You always wanted a fresh take. Keep in mind that we didn’t have the internet then. So we had to go out and actually pay attention to what was happening in the world. It wasn’t easy to find stories.”
During her time writing for The Anchor, Santoro said she “began with arts and entertainment,” covering “a lot of activities on campus.”
“We were very campus focused during my time there,” Santoro said. “I went to the plays, music performances [and] musicals. I did human interest pieces. My favorite pieces to write were human interest and feature pieces. As assignment editor, it was fun to help people come up with their ideas for stories.”
Santoro also reflected on the many memories she has from working at The Anchor. Working with the late Don Asmussen, a longtime cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle, is one of those memories she shared.
“Working with Don Asmussen was amazing,” Santoro said. “He did our cartooning. One of my birthdays, in March, he gave me a hand drawn card and he later became a very famous cartoonist in San Francisco. I still have that card. It really brings back very fond memories of working with my friends.”
Being an editor of any college newspaper, let alone writing for said publication is a daunting task for some. Someone who may have not written in AP style before may take more time to adjust to writing for news. RIC students interested in joining The Anchor are encouraged to get started right away, which is a sentiment Santoro shared when asked what her advice is for future writers and editors.
“Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with trying different positions,” Santoro said. “That’s how you learn and gain experience. Challenge yourself to look for the stories that are unique and think about your own interests and talents. Don’t be afraid to just keep writing. Don’t second guess yourself with a piece of work. It takes a lot of courage to write for a newspaper. Sometimes people won’t always like what you say, but that’s okay. Have faith in yourself and your work.”