‘A crazy extended family’
Megan Valley | Thursday, November 3, 2016
In the 50 years since The Observer began, hundreds of students have written for the paper, forming friendships and — in some cases — relationships, which have led to marriages and children. We sat down with a few of our alumni for whom the Observer has become a family affair.
“Once you’re in it, The Observer is kind of like this crazy, extended family over a period of, now, 50 years,” former editor-in-chief and 1988 alumnus Kevin Becker said. “I think our little family is a nice metaphor for The Observer family that has gone on for 50 years now.”
Monica Yant Kinney, class of 1993, and Dave Kinney, class of 1994, were successive editors-in-chief during their respective senior years before eventually getting married.
Before joining The Observer, Dave Kinney said he had “never actually written any newspaper stories before.”
“I typed [my first story] up, and Monica was there. And she came in and decided to edit the thing by reading over my shoulder in sort of a mocking tone,” he said. “And that was the first newspaper story I had ever written.”
Monica Yant Kinney said that “sadly,” the couple’s children have heard that story many a time. Her entire Observer experience, she added, was a time for learning and growth.
“It later became clear to me that my professional path was being formed, in addition to meeting my dear friends and my now husband,” she said. “I just had no idea that I was going to get to have an experience like that when I was going to school.”
Two days after her graduation, Monica Yant moved to California to start working for the Los Angeles Times, leaving her future husband to be the editor-in-chief.
“A few years later, I was in Florida, and Dave and I start dating … and now we’re married with two kids, sitting 25 feet away from each other,” she said. “I think in that way, [The Observer] really was the center memory — other than living in Farley — of Notre Dame.”
Mike Connolly and Noreen Gillespie Connolly, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s classes of 2002, were sophomores when they took over as editor-in-chief and managing editor, respectively, in spring 2000. But they didn’t begin dating until senior week of their junior year.
“Noreen, my now wife, was my managing editor for two years,” Mike Connolly said. “We both took over as sophomores together.”
The duo kept the same roles into their senior year.
“We got a little bit of swagger since we had been doing it for two years,” he added.
While they were “pretty good about keeping [their] relationship out of The Observer,” Mike Connolly said there was one time the two were fighting about a story and were told by a fellow staff member to go figure out their problems before coming back.
Having been editor-in-chief and managing editor for two years, The Observer is “incredibly important” to their relationship, Mike Connelly said. That’s why they even had Observer-themed favors at their wedding.
Sophomore news writer Lucas Masin-Moyer is a second-generation Observer writer.
“My grandparents used to always get The Observer shipped to their house when my dad was in college,” Masin-Moyer said. “So whenever I was over there, I’d see old clippings from my dad when he wrote there.”
His father, Fran Masin-Moyer — a 1992 graduate — was a scene writer, and his mother also went to Notre Dame. Masin-Moyer said now, his parents read all of his articles.
“It’s a little bit weird — 30 years later, I’m doing the exact same thing,” he said. “But it was already kind of weird since both of my parents went here, and it’s like I’m just reliving their lives. I like it, though, because we have that to talk about and that shared experience.”
For sophomore news writer Courtney Becker, it was always “Notre Dame or bust.” Writing for The Observer came naturally — her parents Kevin and Mary Becker, both 1987 Notre Dame graduates, met working for the paper.
“In the end, I owe my life to The Observer,” she said. “You kind of have to give back at that point.”
Kevin and Mary Becker met when he was a sophomore viewpoint copy editor and she was junior assistant news editor.
“I was sitting there, laying out the Viewpoint section and in walks who I predetermined to be my new girlfriend — and future wife — the second she walked in,” he said.
While they knew their daughter was interested in journalism from working with the high school paper, Mary Becker said she and her husband were careful not to pressure her into joining The Observer.
“We actually had to make sure that it didn’t seem like we were influencing her,” she said. “We thought that was the worst way to get her to work at The Observer. But we were pretty confident she’d do it.”
While the Becker’s have three children, Courtney is the only one to attend Notre Dame.
“I’m serious when I say it’s my claim to fame in the Becker family,” Courtney Becker said. “My siblings are smarter than me, nicer than me, all around better than me. But at least I write for The Observer.
“I’m happy that I’m doing something so important to them and that it’s become so important to me.”