Tag Archives: editor in chief

It Takes a Village to… Run a Paper

While the beginning of this semester was filled with unexpected changes, there was one major change that I had all summer to prepare for — no longer being editor-in-chief of my university’s newspaper. Now, when I say that I “prepared for” leaving this position, I really mean I had a lot of time to reflect over my experience.

Little did I know that when I joined The Collegian, I would not only gain journalistic experience, but I would also learn many life lessons along the way. And to keep it exciting and interesting, a majority of these lessons came out of the most peculiar sources, from rotten pumpkins to secret menus and everything in between.

Of all the lessons that I’ve learned from my time at The Collegian, there is one lesson that surpasses them all: You can’t do it alone. Both in life, and definitely in a newspaper or magazine or whatever you’re trying to produce, it all won’t happen without a team.The moments I tried to do everything on my own, I found myself burnt out and stressed. Thankfully, I was blessed with a loyal team, or rather, family, who kept me sane and made the stressful times a little more enjoyable by either lightening the mood with some random outburst of song and Russian accents or lightening my load by being so ready and willing to help wherever needed.

(Most of) the people behind the paper. This was taken in Austin when we took a staff trip to attend the 2014 ISOJ conference.

(Most of) the people behind the paper. This was taken in Austin when we took a staff trip to attend the 2014 ISOJ conference.

Looking back, I know that, without a doubt, the biggest take away I got out of my time as editor-in-chief was realizing that I can’t produce a paper by myself. I know, that sounds like it should’ve been obvious, but in the midst of all that is deadlines and breaking news, it is easy to forget how much I needed and relied on my fellow editors and writers. I don’t think I expressed my gratitude enough while I was editor-in-chief, but these people really made my experience what it was.

Thank you, Collegian family!


My First ‘Almost Law Suit’

Alright, so I didn’t technically almost get sued, but I finally had my first “stepping on the wrong people’s toes” moment in my journey to journalism (yikes!).

It all started with a normal feature page idea for my school’s newspaper – coming up with our own secret menu for our on-campus coffee spot, Java City. One of the editors had halfheartedly suggested it and somehow, we decided to run with it and see where it took us. Everyone in the office had a lot of fun looking at all the syrups, flavor shots, and add-ins, creating their own unique drink, naming it, and taste-testing their new concoction. By the time the feature was finished, we had created six Houston Baptist University/Collegian themed drinks.

Then, publication day came, and well, to put it lightly, the head of food services at my university was a little surprised. Although we intended to notify him ahead of time, there was some miscommunication and, long story short, he had no idea we were making these new drinks until he saw it in the paper. Not to mention, he was not too happy about our use of the Java City logo on the front page. Thankfully, when it all came down to it, he just was caught off guard and understandably wished we had filled him in ahead of time.

The infamous "secret menu" feature.

The infamous “secret menu” feature.

All in all, it wasn’t really bad; I wouldn’t even say it was a “close call,” but it definitely had the potential to turn into a big mess. What started as a fun project could have ended up as a huge problem for the newspaper. I’m glad we at least took the precautions to make sure that all our “secret menu” drinks wouldn’t interfere with the way Java City normally charges for drinks and flavor shots. In fact, it might have increased their revenue here on campus.

In the end, the workers at our Java City have the feature page behind their counter and even refer to the new drinks by the names we came up with! It was kind of cool to see journalism, even on a small scale, having an impact like that and actually creating something that became adopted and implemented (that’s the power of the media for you). So, two lessons learned, or rather, relearned.

  1. It is terrifyingly easy to get into trouble that could have been prevented by better communication or verification. Although it can be tedious and time-consuming, being extra careful in ensuring you have permission and rights before publishing something can be the very thing that prevents your fun, innovative idea from becoming a legal issue.
  2. Media is powerful. There’s somewhat of an adrenaline rush that comes from the realization that through something like a student newspaper, one can create (or destroy) something. *insert evil laugh here* Which is why, going back to the first lesson, it can not be emphasized enough how important it is to be careful. Whether publishing on a personal blog or a renown publication, you never know what will be the one thing that makes an impact on the world you live in, for better or for worse.


What is the Purpose of a Journalist? pt. 2

unnamedIn part 1, I talked about the challenges that come with journalism being both a business and a service. However, in this post, I want to key in on the service aspect of journalism. Something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is who do I serve? Yes, the news media should exist to inform the public, but when you really think about it, there at least two different ways to approach this “service” aspect of journalism.

Currently, as the editor in chief of my university’s newspaper, I’ve been faced with the challenge of determining who the school’s publication exists to serve – the students or the administration? As a newspaper, especially of a school, you represent something whether it be your organization, cause or country. However, you also have a responsibility to keep your audience informed whether the news about what you represent is positive or negative; otherwise, you walk the fine line of being biased. The dilemma I have found myself facing quite frequently is wanting to keep students informed while at the same time respecting my school’s reputation.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I really love my school and I believe it has so much to offer. There is definitely a lot of good news to cover, but when things come up that concern students, I would like to be able to give them the information they want to know. After all, isn’t that what a newspaper is for? Even if the article addresses a “problem” in the school, I believe being transparent and maintaining open communication with students is more advantageous than only covering the great victories, improvements and on-campus conferences. If there is nothing being released from the administration or people who are involved in the issue, students will eventually start filling in the gaps on their own whether it’s with facts or with rumors. That’s why I think there are definitely pros to publishing “bad news” (by “bad” I’m referring to the topic, not the quality… just wanted to clarify that).

As a student and an editor in chief, I definitely want to respect my school and highlight all our accomplishes. I want our newspaper to be a great representation of the university, but does that mean we can’t publish stories that address areas of improvement or weaknesses in our school as well? Isn’t it biased to only publish good news? How do you respectfully publish “bad news”? Thoughts?

Roadblock: InDesign, Stress, and Anticipation – Oh My!

Yesterday was the day before the publication of my first issue as editor-in-chief of The Collegian (my university’s newspaper), and I basically spent all my time in the office working with InDesign to reformat everything before emailing the pages to the printer. Let me just say that my experience with InDesign so far has not been a positive one and even though our paper probably wouldn’t exist without it, I’ll be honest, there are times when I loathe the person who invented it – okay, maybe not loathe, but you get the point.

The scary part of looking at a paper right before you email it in is that you could mess up weeks worth of work with one click of a button. Also, you get really picky about the layout and begin zooming in on the pages to make sure every little line and box and column fits in its place. The morning before I sent in the issue to be printed, I realized that something had happened to the format of the papers and they were a little outside of the lines, meaning that there might’ve been a chance that some of the pages would’ve been cut off when they were printed.

Anyway, needless to say, I was a bit stressed out but the paper was sent in on time and anxiety took the place of the stress. In fact, right now, I am sitting in the office waiting the arrival of the newspapers… not to mention the papers were supposed to be here 20 minutes ago and it looks like one of our page numbers were wrong (which was probably my fault). Oh, the life of a student journalist.

New Role. New Chapter.

For some reason, I feel like the changes in between each semester get bigger and more drastic as my time in college progresses. A week ago, I took my last final and said “goodbye” to my third semester at Houston Baptist University, and said “hello” to the biggest journalistic opportunity I’ve had since I went to WJMC. Starting next semester, I will take on my new position as editor-in-chief of The Collegian (my university’s newspaper)!

This was definitely something that came out of the blue. I can definitely say that going into this past semester, I had no idea or even intent on becoming the editor-in-chief any time soon.

While I’m definitely excited about this position, I’m also scared…to death. Now I will have to pay closer attention to the way pages are formatted and watch out for those minor, seemingly trivial errors. For example, whether or not the way I wrote “editor-in-chief” in this post is AP Style (it probably isn’t).

My first picture as a "contributing writer" for The Collegian, a year and a half ago. I was so excited just to have this notebook (it made me feel "official").

My first picture as a “contributing writer” for The Collegian, a year and a half ago. I was so excited just to have this notebook (it made me feel “official”).

As I begin to research and look at other top ranked college newspapers, I realize that there is so much one can do, but I can’t do it all. As with most big changes in life, I’ll just have to take a deep breath and take it one step at a time. I know this sounds like I’m completely terrified of this new role (and to some extent, I am) but I am also extremely grateful. Like I said earlier, this wasn’t even something that I’d dare to dream about, yet I’ve been blessed with this amazing experience of a lifetime. That said, I know some way, somehow, I will survive (oh, and it definitely helps that my fellow editors are really supportive and fun to work with!) So, buckle in cause, next year, this journey to journalism is going to get bumpy.