Robert “Bobby” Melok is familiar with the stress of an impending deadline. As the digital content producer at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), his job required him to meet several deadlines. However, as a graduate of Montclair State University and former editor-in-chief of The Montclarion, Melok believed that both experiences prepared him to handle stressful situations and overall achieve his dream job.
“Montclair State helped to prepare me for my career in digital media,” Melok said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without everything that I did [here] in the broadcasting department and at The Montclarion. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today.”
As a young boy, Melok grew up watching wrestling and admits to being a fan for “all his life.” Still, the older that he got, he thought his dreams of working in the wrestling industry, especially WWE, might not be possible.
However, Melok worked hard during his college years as an intern at CBS News Productions and assistant sports editor for The Montclarion before being promoted to sports editor and eventually the editor-in-chief from 2008 to 2009.
“I started out my freshman year as the assistant sports editor covering all the Red Hawk sports,” Melok said. “I went on to become the sports editor for two years, and my senior year I was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.”
The same time Melok became editor-in-chief, The Montclarion was becoming independent.
“That was the year that The Montclarion became independent from the Student Government Association (SGA) and was an independent newspaper,” Melok said. “So, it was a very busy senior year.”
According to American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-New Jersey) website, The Montclarion became an independent student newspaper after its funds were frozen by the former SGA president because of rising tensions between the organizations.
The ACLU-New Jersey, which represented The Montclarion, sent a letter to the SGA and Montclair State’s attorneys and demanded that the funds be unfrozen – or it would file a lawsuit. Eventually, on June 1, 2008, President Susan Cole declared that the newspaper would become independent which followed an SGA vote of 8-7 to unfreeze The Montclarion’s funding.
Even though Melok became in charge of the newspaper after it became independent, he faced many hardships like the publication of a controversial comic strip regarding the then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that many found offensive.
Following the publication, Melok and the other editors issued a campus-wide apology to the student body. As well, after Melok was denied access to a closed-session meeting of the SGA under the Open Public Meetings Acts, The Montclarion filed a second lawsuit against the SGA with the help of the ACLU-New Jersey.
“Looking back on it, it prepared me more than I ever could have known,” Melok said. “It taught me how to be a good leader. I had my ups and downs. There probably were moments when I wasn’t the best editor-in-chief and the people that I worked with will tell you that, but it taught me how to be a leader, responsible, work with others and be a team player, and that is stuff that I deal with every day, and I look back on that and I think, ‘Okay, that helped me get here.’”
Eric Srickland, who worked with Melok as the production editor of the newspaper, credited Melok with moving the school newspaper into a new era.
“Bobby led us into a new frontier as I’ll call it because he was the first editor-in-chief to lead us after we were no longer an organization under the SGA,” Srickland wrote via a direct message. “That was the first semester [that] was full of firsts…it was his calm, cool and collected attitude that got us through that first year of being an independent organization.”
Recently Melok was selected to participate in a panel with five other alumni on their experience in the work field in the School of Communication and Media on April 11. Moderator Marc Rosenweig, a retired professor and former advisor of The Montclarion, was one of the professors that Melok credited with helping him forward his career.
“When he became editor-in-chief of The Montclarion, he asked me if I would be the facility advisor,” Rosenweig said after the event. “I was very happy to do that, having worked on my campus paper when I was in college.”
Rosenweig’s time as the faculty advisor was well-spent.
“I got to work very closely with Bobby, the other editors and students coming on board to try to steer them in the right direction, the best practices in journalism and making it a good experience for them,” Rosenweig said. “[Melok] and I spent a lot of time working together, so I knew that he would be a good role model for students.”