Long before Stockton became an anchor of downtown Hammonton, the Stockton Bursar’s Office was a news hub for the town with a 9-year-old editor at its helm. Giana Milazzo, a senior Literature major, wrote and distributed her version of “the Hammonton News” from a typewriter in the office of her mother, Mimi Milazzo.
“I’ve been here [at Stockton] all my life,” said Milazzo, who smiled when she recalled memories of using highlighters, labels and pens to report the weather and latest happenings in her hometown on days she visited her mother at work.
“I passed [the paper] out to everyone in her office.”
Naturally, when Milazzo came to Stockton as a freshman, she wanted to write for the Argo, Stockton’s student-run newspaper—deemed the vessel of truth to the Stockton community since 1971.
She began as a copy editor and rose to assistant editor her sophomore year. While studying abroad in London, she wrote a column titled, “American Girl Abroad.” She became editor, her current position, upon returning from Europe in the spring semester of her junior year.
Under Milazzo’s leadership, the Argo has undergone a transformation to keep pace with the rapidly changing news and media industry. The Argo now has an online presence at www.stocktonargo.com, tweets as the @stocoargo, updates followers via its Facebook page and filters photos on Instagram.
The website, designed and launched last year, has an archive of past issues, a task that was “arduous” and is “still a work in progress” explained Milazzo.
“We digitized back issues starting from the beginning. You can go back and read an article from 1979 and see what [students] were saying [back then],” she explained.
“Alumni are looking. I’m really happy they can do that,” she added.
Milazzo knows people are reading past issues because she’s gotten emails from alumni looking for specific articles.
Social media brings a fun and interactive element to the paper Milazzo said. Readers are asked to mention @stocoargo in their Instagram photos of campus for a chance at having their image published in the newspaper as the Instagram winner of the week.
One of Milazzo’s goals as editor has been “to give students who are interested in journalism more opportunities to get that actual experience.” Integrating Associated Press (AP) style, offering workshops and having experts visit the Argo staff are steps she’s taken to raise the bar.
“A challenge has definitely been trying to make [the paper] exciting and readable, but also making it appropriate,” she said.
“It’s not the Onion,” she said, but added that “we have the RAGO, which is fun—that’s our April Fools issue that is a tradition.”
Having final say comes with responsibility and rewards. On snow days, being editor means turning around 20 or more pages in two days, and on the night of the Student Entertainment Team’s annual spring concert, it means backstage passes to interview the musicians.
“I got to interview Taking Back Sunday, which was like a lifelong dream last semester,” said Milazzo. “Being involved in the Argo has definitely opened up opportunities for me,” she said.
Milazzo enjoys an eclectic combination of coursework. Her schedule is packed tight with thought-provoking subject areas, research and writing. She was drawn to literature research after taking classes with Dr. Lisa Honaker, now interim dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, and then “fell into Philosophy classes” with Dr. Roger Jackson as a result of her interest in social justice topics. Literature and philosophy then led her to political science with Dr. Linda Wharton, where she found her minor.
When describing her interests, she says, “They all do tie in together.”
Reading, writing and critical thinking are her strengths and she said she hopes they will market her well to employers. She’s never regretted being a Literature major and is seeing its benefits now more than ever as she is writing graduate school essays.
As a Service Engagement Advocate (SEA) with the Office of Service-Learning, she serves as project leader and works to support faculty members teaching service-learning courses.
This summer, Milazzo will further blend her passions by joining the Washington Internship Program for an advocacy, engagement and arts internship. She hopes the opportunity will be “something that ties in all of my experiences.”
“To fill my creative writing need, I became involved with the StockPot, which is our literary magazine that has poetry, short stories, art and photography,” she said.
Students and alumni are invited to submit content for this year’s StockPot, but must email them to firstname.lastname@example.org before March 1. Please see www.facebook.com/RSCstockpot for more details on submitting.
Over the past year, Milazzo has watched Stockton expand into her hometown of Hammonton and got involved by interning at the Kramer Hall instructional site. In that position she was able to coordinate cultural events, attend planning meetings for Third Thursday programming and give tours of the building, which was once a shoe and clothing factory known as the Bertino/National Garment Factory.
“I’ve been able to grow a lot [at Stockton]. I’ve seen it transform. I can only see it growing from here,” she said.