Farmington Hills native Stephanie Steinberg has worked in newsrooms across the U.S. She joins SEEN, ready to edit with her signature purple pen.
By Chantel Jennings
The purple pen became synonymous with Stephanie Steinberg when she was editor-in-chief of The Michigan Daily in 2011. At the time, I was a senior sports editor and every night around midnight, we’d print off our final proof of the evening to have one last look from our editor-in-chief. In years prior, we’d have to say, “Did Jake see this? Did Gary see this?” But in 2011, it was pretty clear when Stephanie had already edited our page. There would be a few notes and check marks, and that was that. It was purple pen. Yep, Steph had seen it.
This is how I got to know Stephanie — in a newsroom, somewhere between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. during quick coffee breaks and chats, purple pen always in hand.
Shortly before I graduated from the University of Michigan, she asked if I wouldn’t mind helping out on a “small” project she had in mind. The project was a coffee table book chronicling the 120-plus-year history of The Daily covering the Michigan football team. And no, it wasn’t a small project, but Stephanie had a way of making a multi-year project seem not just feasible, but enjoyable. I signed on. If her purple stamp of approval was on something, I felt pretty confident putting mine on it, too.
A few years later, she sent me a text asking if I could contribute to another “side” project she was working on, a book of memoirs from former Daily writers. Again, this was no small task, but somehow Stephanie managed to work a full-time job and conduct a nationwide book tour for “In the Name of Editorial Freedom: 125 Years at the Michigan Daily.”
So, it comes as no surprise that seven years after I came to know both her and her purple pen, she called me and asked another favor: Could I write a column introducing her, as the new managing editor, to the readers of SEEN?
This was the easiest project for which to say yes. Not only because — like any good editor — she gave me a tight word count, but also because of my admiration for Stephanie and how I’ve been a witness to her passion for life and journalism (and sweets, we’ll get to that …) for almost a decade.
Stephanie is a Farmington Hills native, a 2012 Michigan graduate and a lover of “The Mitten.” She’s contributed to several publications, including The New York Times, Boston Globe, CNN.com and USA Today. Though she spent four years in Washington, D.C., as the online lifestyle editor for WTOP Radio and an assistant health and money editor for U.S. News & World Report, she eventually came back to Michigan in 2016. She returned for a job as a features reporter at The Detroit News, writing and exploring the stories of Detroit’s revitalization and transformation.
Through her last few job changes and the most recent move, there have been a few constants.
- Her fiancé Jake. The two were engaged last winter at Assemble Sound in Detroit, a recording studio that Stephanie had written about for The Detroit News. (His proposal involved tricking her into thinking she was covering a story about a musician. He ended up being the musician.) They met in Washington, D.C., despite lives that have been lived in relatively parallel fashions — he’s also a Detroit area native and Michigan grad who moved to D.C. after graduation. The two are looking forward to their May wedding in downtown Detroit.
- Her appreciation of good journalism and storytelling. She has a knack for finding stories that made me, even from my apartment 2,000 miles away in Portland, Oregon, feel invested in Detroit’s local shops and events.
- Her love of sweets, mostly, ice cream. If there were no health risks, I believe Stephanie would subsist on just chocolate ice cream for the rest of her life. Note: If there are any ice cream shops looking to open, consider somewhere on the block near SEEN’s office. You will have a daily customer in Stephanie.
I remember being at The Michigan Daily as a wide-eyed sophomore and having an alum tell me I would likely meet some of my best friends in that building because of collective ownership the students had with their love of the paper. There were unique relationships forged in the midnight conversations as student journalists gathered to debate headlines, story placement, photo usage and verbiage.
Though many of us have gone on to bigger and better jobs in the journalism community, I think we all look back at those days in The Michigan Daily newsroom with nostalgia. It is the place that gave most of us our foundation for curiosity, storytelling and a deep appreciation of the importance of journalism. But it is only because of the other people in the newsroom — people like Stephanie — that those conversations were had, pushing us all to make greater projects and products.
The SEEN community can be excited for a managing editor who has a passion for journalism, a vision for success and a love of the Detroit community. And somehow, I know, she will manage to do all of this with a purple pen in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other.
Chantel Jennings is a Dexter native and sports writer for The Athletic. She previously covered the Pac-12 and University of Michigan football for ESPN.com.