10 Questions With Onward State Managing Editor Joe Lister

RIP to the Lamm Era, there’s a new sheriff in town.

After Onward State’s 18th managing editor, Keeley Lamm, stepped down after a triumphant year at the helm of one of the largest student-run blogs in the country, we’ve entered a new era here at Onward State.

Former associate editor and football writer Joe Lister was named Onward State’s 19th managing editor at the final all-staff meeting of the semester. Lister sat down with us to discuss himself, Penn State, and more about what he hopes to accomplish with the blog in the coming year.

Onward State: Tell the folks at home a little bit about yourself.

Joe Lister: I’m a Print/Digital Journalism major hailing from West Chester, Pennsylvania. I’m a die-hard Philly sports fan — something my roommates don’t really get — with a special passion for the Eagles, Union, and a bit of the Phils. All Penn State sports and USC football also move me (yes, I was on the other side during the 2017 Rose Bowl. No regrets). I’ve got three roommates who make my life 10 times better and 10 times worse at the same time. Back home and around the East Coast, I have a family that always makes my life better.

Also, I don’t wear a shirt a lot. I’m not sure why. It’s just a thing.

OS: Why did you choose to attend Penn State?

JL: When I was looking at colleges, I really wanted to go to Ithaca. They have a solid program up there and I really like the town, but the journalism track wasn’t accredited. It came down to Penn State and Syracuse, and Penn State was a financial decision.

It ended up being the right one. I never wanted to come to this school, but it’s been one of my life’s best choices. I can’t say enough about the opportunities I’ve gotten here while staying close to my parents.

OS: How did you find out about Onward State?

JL: I actually have a really cool story for this. During my freshman year, College Gameday came to town. Two buddies and I decided we’d sleep outside the set and get in the front row (we did and ate a ton of lettuce on TV). Anyway, this guy in front of us in line was kicking around a soccer ball. As a huge soccer guy, I joined in and we started making conversation. He was Otis Lyons, a former staffer and a guy I somewhat worked with for a different site. I knew Onward State existed, but Otis convinced me it was the real deal. I applied to join in the spring and got in. It’s been a blast ever since.

OS: Do you have a favorite Onward State article?

JL: Ever? There are really too many to count. There’s Ryan Parsons asking James Franklin to have a beer with him. There’s Rico Gore doing a crazy deep dive into the Office of the Physical Plant. There’s Adam Babetski calling out secret societies. Jack Scott wrote a surprisingly handy look at campus bathrooms. Haylee Yocum wrote a great piece about THON.

That’s all stuff that’s happened in my era, but Onward State defined so much of the coverage from the Sandusky scandals and the Tim Piazza death. We’ve done it all, which is really what Onward State is really about.

OS: Do you have a favorite Onward State memory from your time on staff so far?

JL: This is tough. I think beating the Daily Collegian in dodgeball was pretty awesome. That whole day ended up pretty weird by 1 a.m., but that event and that win was electric. Beating them in football was cool, just not as satisfying. I also think that dodgeball game made so many of us really care about the blog and feel a group identity. It really meant something to all of us.

OS: What are some of your goals for the blog this year, and what do you hope to do differently than in years past?

JL: I’m the sports guy, but I’d honestly like us to write more non-sports stories during the fall. I’m also hoping to reinvent the newsletter — most people don’t even know we have one. Hopefully, we’ll be able to turn that around and make it an interesting product. I’ve been blessed with some really great managing editors in the past (Keeley Lamm killed it this year), so I don’t feel the blog needs any radical changes. Still, some tweaking is certainly in order. I want the blog to be in a better place when I leave than it is now.

OS: Why did you apply for the managing editor position, and what are your responsibilities?

JL: I’ve wanted to be managing editor since I joined staff. I had no idea what the role was or what it meant, I just wanted to do it because it was the hardest thing to do. I decided I’d try to take the role last April and pushed myself over the summer to set myself up for that process. Keeley and I reached an accord in October and the rest is history.

As far as responsibilities, I’m in charge of everything that goes on the site. I edit posts, I know everything that goes on around campus and State College, I break news when I’m needed, and I make sure the tweets and Instagram posts for the day are set. I make sure the blog is running smoothly while working to improve it along the way.

OS: What have you learned from former managing editor Keeley Lamm?

JL: What haven’t I learned from Keeley? Ironically, my first-ever experience covering something for Onward State was shadowing Keeley at a lacrosse game. I think it was a learning experience for both of us. She’s taught me how to edit, how to get credentials, how to tweet, how to not be an idiot (or at least try to not be an idiot), and, yes, how to spell. She was the best boss I’ve ever had and it’s great she’ll be around this year, too.

OS: When you aren’t busy blogging, what do you enjoy doing?

JL: Outside of Onward State, I also write for Philadelphia Soccer Now, which covers professional and amateur soccer in the Philadelphia area. I go to the gym (almost) every day. I watch Major League Soccer. I watch All The President’s Men way too much. I referee youth soccer. You can also find me at Cafe, my home away from home (feel free to get me a Cafe Original pitcher if when you see me there). A lot of the time, though, I’m doing other journalism. I (try to) freelance, I worked for the Penn State News Lab this last year, and I’ve got some ideas for enterprise projects coming up over the summer. I write the words.

OS: As per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which would you be
and why?

JL: Pterodactyl. I know it’s basic, but I just want to fly. Gravity was always lame.

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About the Author

Luke Pieczynski

Luke is a sophomore accounting major hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, and is one of Onward State's social media editors. He can often be found in the Starbucks line waiting for a nitro cold brew, or listening to one of Dua Lipa's latest releases. He's a fiercely loyal Sheetz Freak and will not settle for another Pennsylvania gas station. Please send your best political thriller to him on Twitter @lukepie11 or to his email [email protected].

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