Ursula Muñoz Schaefer/Assistant Opinion Director
As this semester comes to an end, we at PantherNOW bid adieu to many of the talented staff who have shaped our student newspaper into what it is today. As her assistant, it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to our Opinion Director, Gabriella Pinos.
As is well-known amongst us, Gaby has always been one of the quieter people in our newsroom. But when it comes to her writing, her voice is always loud and clear, and when it came to overseeing the Opinion section, she led with strong footing.
The most recent Gaby moment I can think of happened during the exit interviews that took place over last week’s Zoom conference. As we all sat there staring at each other in grid-view, one of our E-board members asked Gaby what it was that led to her opening up at PantherNOW, and whether or not she agreed that she had come out of her shell during her time here.
Gaby’s answer was a single, dry “yes.”
It wasn’t that she hadn’t actually come out of her shell enough to talk about it and give a more portentous answer. It was that she didn’t need to.
Being Opinion Director put Gaby in charge of PantherNOW’s loudest section, and the one most representative of our university’s student voices. She’d spent the last year holding meetings with our writers, increasing communication within the section and leading with an authoritative voice necessary to make Opinion thrive. Through her leadership and dedication, Opinion was transformed into one of the paper’s best sections. Being soft-spoken had nothing to do with it.
“At first it was sort of weird, but then as it went on it got better,” Gaby said about taking the leadership role and dealing with the more complicated parts of being a director, like reaching a middle ground with writers who gave a lot of pushback. “I think it was very seamless? I have a way of organizing myself and I like structure and I like having things sorted in order, and I try to put that on my writers so that they know what to expect.”
And she did. Opinion wasn’t always PantherNOW’s proudest division. But while we all credit Gaby with the turn it’s taken in the past year, she stays modest.
“I know it was called the worst section, [but] I still had a soft spot for it because I think opinion writing is fun and I think it’s entertaining,” she explained. “I already knew what was missing in previous iterations of the section, and it was basically just a lack of communication and leadership.”
Sending emails and creating a group chat for writers to pitch ideas in was part of it. But I think what made Gaby one of the best directors the section has ever had, has a lot to do with her fundamental understanding of what opinion writing is.
“A lot of times people will just write, like, a summary of what they saw on the news and a line telling me what they feel, and that’s not what an opinion piece is,” she said. “If something feels emotional and feels like it has a point to it, then I usually consider it to be good… It’s surprising how many people outside and inside of the newsroom don’t understand.”
This shines through her own writing as well. Gaby credits her dueling column on abortion as one of her proudest moments as a writer, because of how passionate she felt about the issue. Her sardonic sense of humor makes itself heard in her pieces as well—something I’m sure anyone familiar with our editorials from the past year can tell.
But despite the sarcasm, there are still things our Opinion Director will unironically look back on after she graduates; things like e-board meetings with the staff and trips to Vicky’s.
“When everyone would hang out on Fridays in the newsroom it was fun,” she said.
Also fun? Playing Guitar Hero with friends in empty GC classrooms—something she retracted soon after admitting.
“Actually, I shouldn’t say that,” she laughed. “I shouldn’t say that! Because I don’t know if that’s allowed!”
It’s fine, Gaby. No one’s going to come after you for that after you graduate. What we will do is bid you farewell and thank you for the impact you’ve had on our paper. The service you have provided by shining light on FIU’s student voices has been invaluable.