To be a leader, shamelessly wear the overalls

Editor-in-Chief Fallon Roth writes about learning to embrace her leadership style during her time at The Temple News, starting with wearing her favorite pair of overalls.


I’m always the person who picks out her outfit before a big event, like a concert or highly-awaited day in the city. This time, I was preparing for the first day of orientation for The Temple News, thus embarking on what would be a fulfilling tenure as Editor in Chief. 

I landed on a pair of dark blue overalls and a white top. I was especially excited about these overalls, a gift from my friend while we were staying in Ventnor City. They fit perfectly, had lots of pockets and reminded me of carefree summer days. 

While the outfit boosted my confidence, I was apprehensive of how my brand-new staff would perceive me. I’m known among my friends for being sweet, approachable, overtly friendly and the person to call for reservations for dinner or copies of the newest book we love. 

The positive fruits of my personality were quashed in high school while student-directing our theatre company’s production of Mary Poppins. A male teacher I looked up to at the time said my cast members would only listen to me if I yelled. It was then that I started associating more “masculine” traits with toughness.

Back in my bedroom in Newtown, Pennsylvania, I kept pondering if wearing the overalls would make the more serious impression. In the kind of mulling young women are accustomed to, I enlisted several friends’ opinions on how I would be perceived. 

I had leadership positions each year at The Temple News, but Editor in Chief has been my most important responsibility. I wanted to send the right message about the kind of authoritative leader I thought I needed to be. I felt a need to prove myself. 

As they do quite frequently (and lovingly), my friends reassured me the overalls would be a proper choice for a hot August day and I was reading too much into the situation. I ended up wearing the overalls, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. 

I ushered in a new era at The Temple News — shifting to more digital content and monthly print editions. This hadn’t been done before, and navigating this unfamiliar territory made me nervous but extremely excited. With the heavy responsibility of creating this turning point in The Temple News’ content, I thought about giving my leadership style a high school-adjacent makeover. 

I overanalyzed my decisions and clothing choices and paid attention to negative and unproductive opinions, performing the wondrous balancing act that only women in leadership can perform.

I started thinking I should be more stern — but not too stern — in staff meetings as opposed to my usually bubbly self. While I ultimately never let these thoughts get the best of me, erasing them was exhausting and required many listens of Taylor Swift’s “The Man.”

In these stormy clouds of anxiety, I somehow forgot all the reasons I deserved to be Editor in Chief and how the traits I was self-conscious of still make me a great leader. 

I’ve been on staff since my freshman year as a News Staff Writer during the COVID-19 pandemic. At 18, I learned to cover public health crises, gun violence, politics and university admin. My friendly and approachable attitude helped me talk to sources and establish long-lasting relationships with individuals in the Temple community. 

While serving as News Editor the following year and Digital Managing Editor the year after that, I continued to build on those skills to connect with staff and the institutional knowledge of the place I love dearly. 

I realized it would be a long time until I could experience this extent of journalistic freedom again, and that’s when the reality of our successes this year became clear to me. The increased emphasis on watchdog longform and investigative work, the creativity and experimentation in our print covers, exploring new ways to engage readers online, winning many awards and tackling subjects our publication had never covered. 

More than anything, I love the sense of community and friendship we fostered in the newsroom.

My overalls did not hinder these triumphs, and neither did my bubbly personality or my all-lowercase typing style on Slack. The Temple News and I made these accomplishments because we are composed of talented, passionate, empathetic journalists who I am so lucky to have spent the past four years with. 

Serving as Editor in Chief will forever be one of the most transformative moments of my journalism career. The stories, the people, the memories, the laughs, the lessons. I now know that it’s where I was supposed to be all along.

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