By Mahira Dayal and Roy Kamineni, Development Staff
Anita Seline ’84 worked at the Daily Cal during all four years of her undergraduate career at Cal, majoring in English. She was editor in chief of the Daily Californian during her senior year. After graduating, she received a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Anita worked at the Hartford Courant for eight years, where she met her husband, Michael Remez. She then moved to Washington, D.C., where she recently hosted one of the Daily Cal’s 2017 East Coast alumni reunions in her home. Anita still does some writing and editing, but has channelled her time into volunteer work in the last several years. We caught up with her about her time at the Daily Cal and experiences through her career.
What was your favorite part of working for the Daily Cal?
“It was so real — not goofing around and playing with journalism, it was real. Having been in the Daily Cal newsroom and then going to other newsrooms, it didn’t seem different at all . It was not amateur hour, people took their work seriously and that was inspirational! People were so careful, and so meticulous and took such pride in their work. There were so many smart people and everyone was so put together, which made an impression on me.”
What were the most exciting articles you worked on at the Daily Cal?
“When UC President David Saxon resigned, there was a big job search for who was going to be the new president. We broke the story about finalists for his successor. We scooped everyone, as I recall.
“Martin Luther King Jr. Day was not a state holiday or federal holiday when I was at the Daily Cal, and there was a movement to make it a campus holiday. I covered the activism pretty fiercely and the group prevailed and got the campus to recognize it as a campus holiday. Back in the ’80s this was considered a pretty big deal, certainly before Dr. King’s birthday became a federal holiday.
“Another great memory was the 1982 Big Game, which Cal won in the final seconds when the Stanford Band came on the field thinking the game was over. A few days later, the Stanford Daily replaced all the Daily Cal newspapers and put out a spoof Daily Cal that said that the play had been reversed and Stanford had actually won the game! That was something I’d never forget, I remember my friend Dan Woo, who was my predecessor as editor in chief, just looking at the newspapers like “oh no!” Hats off to the Stanford Daily for doing it, and for the fact that they could pull that off — it was quite impressive! We also grabbed of bunch of the fake papers and sold them.”
If you were to make a return to journalism, are there any subjects or themes you’d be interested in covering?
“It’s a tough world right now, and journalists are such reviled people — which shouldn’t be, because they do such important work. The work I see in the New York Times and Washington Post and different newspapers has such good stuff — it’s so impressive, I don’t know what I would cover if I went back right now, or if I’d fit into that world anymore. There’s definitely good work to be done in other ways!”
Can you talk a bit about your experience at the Hartford Courant?
“I started off in the bureau system and then worked my way up to cover City Hall. I was there a good eight years. Thinking about covering City Hall in Hartford and all the different characters, politicians and shenanigans that I’d seen all before at Berkeley and the Daily Cal — it was definitely familiar territory for me, which was good preparation.
Berkeley was, and still is, left-leaning. Hartford had a similar political makeup. There were very similar types of issues, so covering those were definitely interesting!”
Do you have any advice for current Daily Cal staffers?
“I’m struck by how things have changed. It used to be ‘go out, report the story, come back, type it up and give it to your editor.’ These days it’s ‘go out, report the story, write a couple of emails, tweet something, post something on Instagram, make sure the YouTube channel is updated’ — I think you have to be really, really flexible and be ready to take on new things. You have to be ready to try different modes of communication, and I’ve am reminded how much more complicated things have become, even though we have so many different ways of reaching people. Everyone wants to be reached in a different way and having to do it all is challenging, but also seems to be the thing that will give you the edge.
“The thing about the Daily Cal was that you can get really really wrapped up in it, to the point where people stopped focusing on school or dropped down to one class. That was actually never my goal, so I was a bit unusual in that respect! It’s important for the young adults working in the paper to strive for balance and not lose sight of getting a degree. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the feel of the place, the work and the camaraderie, but it’s important to remain balanced.”
After eight years in Hartford, Anita moved to Washington with her husband, Mike, who had been promoted to the Courant’s Washington bureau. Anita freelanced for numerous publications — including the San Francisco Chronicle — until their first child was born in 1994. Anita was an avid ballet dancer, and all three of her children followed in her slippers. Her older daughter, Marisa Remez, is a recent Princeton grad with a certificate in dance who hopes to go into arts and dance management and development.Her son, Nathaniel, is a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. Her younger daughter, Elena, dances and is the visual content editor for her high school newspaper, the Wilson Beacon
These days, Anita is focused on an underlying mission of social action and social justice. She is active in her church, working on building relationships with different parts of Washington DC. She is a part of her local high school’s Diversity Task force, which introduced an Honors for All program for freshmen to close the achievement gap. She also fundraises for her local PTA and the Maryland Youth Ballet. She was also recently co-chaired the 50th anniversary gala for her local nursery school, raising $50,000 for a new playground and sending the existing one to Haiti. Anita says that she applies many of the skills she developed as a journalist — starting at the Daily Cal — to the work she does for causes.