Past staff shares stories of time with The Hurricane Natalia Rovira

Landing a piece in print for The Miami Hurricane is a big deal. Being able to open an issue and read the big, bold letters of your article is a wonderful feeling. During Isabella Cueto’s time with the paper, deciding who broke the big stories every week was often decided unconventionally.

“There were many games of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who got to cover a story,” Cueto said. From her freshman to her senior year, Cueto moved through many of The Hurricane positions and ranks. She began as an Edge writer in 2014, moved on to writing for the news section, eventually taking on the role of assistant news editor, then news editor and finally graduating as editor-in-chief.

Today, Cueto is a county reporter for The State, a daily newspaper published in Columbia, South Carolina. She looks back fondly on her years with The Hurricane.

The 2017 Hurricane staff poses for a selfie while working in the newsroom.

“My favorite nights were always deadline nights,” she said. Although stress levels are often high during the final hours before issues are sent to print, Cueto and her team found ways to manage their anxiety. Back then, The Miami Hurricane printed twice a week, doubling the pressure felt by the staff to perform.

“In the middle of deadline, when we felt like we were about to cry or scream, we’d roll our desk chairs out to the long hallway on the second floor of Shalala Student Center” she said.

From dance parties in the newsroom to staff Thanksgiving dinners, Cueto’s memories of The Hurricane were filled with wholesome, heartfelt moments. “I had a difficult time finding my niche, my people and my purpose on campus. Once I got more involved with The Hurricane, I could tell that’s where I belonged,” she said.

Over the years, The Hurricane has fostered a sense of community among its staff while providing them with invaluable experience in the field of journalism.

Demi Rafuls works today as the senior financial assistant for student media at UM. Her office is in the Shalala Student Center, which, during her time at The Hurricane ten years ago, was just a concept. Her journey with The Hurricane started as a graphic designer before becoming managing editor for a year and graduating with the editor in chief position.

The comradery aspect of working for The Hurricane was particularly meaningful to Rafuls.

“You learn to work with your friends, and you have to be able to say ‘this is wrong’ to your friends. It was an interesting dynamic, but it was fun,” she said.

Alexandra Leon (News Editor, left) and Laura Edwins (Managing Editor, right) representing the Hurricane at a student journalism conference at the University of Minnesota in summer 2010

She recalled moments when the whole staff would be working on a time crunch on the Sunday night deadline. “We had a lot of couches because people would be sleeping there,” she said. “We would send pictures of people sleeping in our private Facebook group. I don’t think I had a single Sunday to myself throughout my time here.”

Patricia Mazzei is another who can share unique stories from her experience with the university’s paper. She currently serves as the New York Times Miami bureau chief. Working for The Hurricane between 2003 and 2006, she began writing for the news section, moving on to working as the copy editor, opinion editor and eventually taking over the position of editor-in-chief.

She associates many early 2000s British pop and rock songs with late nights copy editing and sending off the pages to press. “The art director and designers used to lay out the paper while playing Virgin Radio UK on a Mac,” she said. “When I hear the songs now, I am immediately transported back to that dark, tiny room with the big desktop screens.”

For years, The Hurricane has provided its staff with a distinctive approach to life as a student at the University of Miami. The relationships forged in the newsroom and beyond have greatly impacted past generations of student journalists. One can only hope that the same applies for those to come.

Anna Timmons, Jacqueline Bajric and Shawn Fortune contributed to reporting for this article.