I started working at the Independent Florida Alligator in January 2007 mainly because I didn’t want to get rusty during a semester with no journalism classes. I took the job I thought would allow me to spend the least time at work: copy editing once a week.
I laugh now when I think about wanting to spend less time in the newsroom. A year and a half and thousands of hours in the newsroom later, I’m managing editor for print of the Alligator.
When I explain my position to people, I say that I’m human resources, accounting, management and editorial rolled into one. I usually work about 50 hours a week. I’m also taking four classes.
All that said: I love my job.
I got the idea for this blog from a blog post I wrote about a month ago. I said that the managers of college newspapers faced decisions and failures to communicate that would baffle people who manage full-size newspapers.
In response to my post, Bryan Murley over at Innovation in College Media made the following point:
“I know of few campus activities that put inexperienced people in such high-level decision-making positions basically on their own (the football team has a coaching staff, the theatre department has directors, etc., but the newspaper staff – most of the time – has an ‘adviser,’ who doesn’t make editorial decisions).”
It’s scary doing my job because I know that the decisions that I make, along with the other top editors, affect our staff, the subjects of our stories and our entire readership. So I’m learning on the job about how to make those choices.
I plan to use this blog to express my joys, frustrations and exhaustion induced by managing one of the largest student-run papers in the country. Don’t expect any salacious newsroom gossip or detailed accounts of arguments with staff — I’m the soul of discretion.
But I do hope that any manager at college papers across the country can use this as a sort of manual. I want people to learn from my mistakes and experiences so that college news organizations can mature. Like a professor once told me: If your bakery (i.e. newsroom) can put out bread (i.e. a newspaper) daily, that’s fine. If you can run a bakery, that’s better.
If you blog about college media, please leave a link in the comments — I’d love to hear about other experiences and start a conversation.