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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Search for Cool Fonts Leads to Love

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English MA, 1991

Through a room full of desks, past ping pong and pool tables, stepping over a small pile of 2’ by 4’s arranged neatly on the carpet, Sheri McLeish leads the way into a small work room. A collage of plans for revitalizing the website of a popular clothing retailer cover one wall, and scraps of paper from the same project litter a sturdy white table. She clears them to the side. 
“It’s a really laid back place,” McLeish says. “We basically help our clients develop their marketing strategy.” 
As a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, McLeish became the News Editor of the Mass Media. After graduation she worked as a journalist for several years before transitioning into marketing research.
She worked for a series of marketing companies on trademarks and new products for the internet, social media and apps. Now she works at SapientNitro, creating marketing campaigns in rooms like the one where she sits now, reminiscing on her time at UMass Boston. 
“It all gets back to the Mass Media,” McLeish says. “The opportunity to be the editor of the newspaper, and to manage it end-to-end, from coming up with story ideas, assignments, to the coordination of all the resources was the foundation of everything since.”
“There couldn’t have been a better education for me than to be the editor of the newspaper, because in some ways this is all I’m still doing. What are we writing about? What’s the issue or challenge we’re going to tackle? Who do we need to do it? What type of talent and skill set is most appropriate? Who do we need to talk to? I owe everything to the Mass Media, and UMass Boston.”
In the 80s and 90s the student newspaper was located in the back of Wheatley Hall on the 4th floor, in the midst of the student activities office, next to a few racquetball courts. 
“They had big windows, and you could watch,” she says. “I used to play racquetball. I actually had my own office, which is amazing to consider. Next to me were the copy editors. We had three folks in there. Then we had a big newsroom with enough space for about half a dozen desks, and a production room. So it was a much bigger space for the newspaper. I won’t go as far to say it was nice, but it was a good place to hang out, and when you commute it’s nice to have a place to just be on campus and have all your friends there. You couldn’t beat it.” 
The office was right above a student run cafe called Wits Ends, which was a popular hang out until the Campus Center opened in 2004. 
“I still have my Wits End mug at home. I use it, yes, frequently. We would often on production nights go down and get the last of their coffee.” 
“When I was the editor there was a lot more manual work involved in producing the paper. We were using Apple 2s. You’d print on a piece of paper, and you had an exacto knife. You actually had to cut out the article. That’s where your actual inches of story came from, and we would lay it out on flats. The printer would pick it up that night and deliver it the next day, and I would deliver the paper, and push it around. It was a great experience, and we would do that every week.” 
McLeish remembers buying a Smith Corona typewriter, state of the art for a few months, to help with her work on the paper. 
“It had a little window of digital where you could see your words first. It quickly became obsolete, and I was able to learn computer technology at UMass.” 
It was through computer technology at UMass Boston that McLeish found her husband. 
“Computers were very new, so we didn’t have a lot of fonts. We had our mailboxes outside and the Arts and Features Editor had his name in a funky font. I was like, ‘Where’d you get the font?’ He’s like, ‘Steve has them.’ So I met this guy Steve, and he had all these fonts because he was an early technophile. He had one of those brick cellphones.” 
They fell in love slowly. 
“We hung out all summer, and we got along well, and I kind of liked him. I’ll never forget because once school started he had school work to do, and he wasn’t really doing his job, and I remember coming and saying, ‘Yo Steve, I think I’m going to have to let you go.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, good. I’m glad, because I didn’t want to quit.’ Schoolwork came first. I understood that, so I basically fired him, but he didn’t stop coming around the Mass Media.”
“We never dated while I was at school there, but he would come around. He was a musician, so he’d play guitar in the newsroom. We just ended up keeping in touch, and eventually we started dating.” 
She worked at the paper for two years, becoming editor in her first year, and Editor-in-Chief in her second and final year at UMass Boston. 
“It was a fun time in my life. Some of the best memories were those late production nights. The folks you hang out with in those wee hours of the morning, those are bonds that can’t really be broken.” 
The Kinks played on campus the year that McLeish edited the Mass Media. 
“They set their dressing rooms up right next to where our offices were. I wasn’t paying much attention, and I came out of the newsroom and saw Ray Davies in his underwear. They played outside in the back where there was a grassy field. So we had lots of great times.” 
Though she loved her classes, and learned a ton from professors like Mary Shaner, John Brereton and Meg Mansfield, she found her career working for the student newspaper.
“I could sit and take classes all day and be content, but my education was really at the newspaper. My coursework was a required effort in order to do that.”

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010