15 More Things I’ve Learned (so far) as Editor-in-Chief of the Student Newspaper

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Collaborations can be cluster!@#$s. Just as too many chefs spoil the stock, too many writers (not editors) can be confusing. It is better to give a cub (i.e. newbie) a small feature that requires little writing and have someone mentor them than have them share a bigger story that is perfectly capable of being done by one seasoned reporter. My job is to get the paper out, however I can make that happen.  Plus, who the hell wants to share a byline?

Create a mock layout for your layout editor. It serves the same purpose as the outline of a story and will make their job much easier.

Sticking to deadlines will help separate the wheat from the chaff.

If you love to create and tell your own story, you’re a writer; if you love to gather data and tell the stories of others, you’re a reporter.

Don’t contribute to “fake news” by giving people credit who did not contribute to the final product or service; contribution can be as small as editing a story, selling an ad, or even delivering newspapers. Coming to meetings does not count. (We don’t get paid for coming to them.)

AP (Associated Press) style needs to adopt the Oxford comma for clarity.

E-mail to set up a time to do interviews, not conduct them. Giving people too much time to think about what to say takes away from the immediacy.

The newspaper is not a newsletter (i.e. lists of names, calendar of events, et cetera). It should tell stories with words and pictures (which is why captions should accompany all photos).

In the Arts and Entertainment section, covering actual events on campus, like plays and concerts, are far preferable to reviews about random things. Reviews don’t require any legwork, and the Internet is flooded with them. A humor or opinion piece that ties in to the school is much preferred.

Group shots are unavoidable; action shots are preferable. The former says, “We were there”; the latter says, “We were there doing this.”

Steal from your competitors, then elevate what they have done. For example, a competitor that shall remain nameless has a page called “The Briefs.” We upgraded ours to “Pirate Briefs” (the pirate is our mascot)—a photo collage of unrelated events (with captions, of course).

Give your photos a name, so they’ll be easier to find (no IMG_2020).

A few of us conducted a poll/survey of at least 75 students (100 is optimal, but hey, we’re short-staffed) for an infographic. We could’ve just included boring statistics, but we decided to humanize our findings by including student comments. This is a fantastic way to get student names in the paper (btw, headshots NEVER belong in an infographic), because don’t many of us, when reading a controversial blog post, go straight to the comments section? (After reading the original post, of course.) What’s more, when we conducted these polls, many of us asked professors’ permission to use a few minutes of class time to get a bunch of these surveys filled out at once. That said, in the interest of a diverse pool of respondents, we only did this in classes where the course was a general requirement, or where all the majors weren’t just English or healthcare or cybersecurity. (In other words, don’t get a bulk of responses from a poetry or creative writing class.)

If your newspaper has a Facebook page (if it doesn’t, get it one), you probably won’t have enough content to post daily, but if you have archives that aren’t available online, repost covers, stories, et cetera, that tie in to current events (if possible). This is a great way to utilize content that is otherwise sitting in a storeroom. https://www.facebook.com/eCorsair/

Create a reference book (both physical and digital) for the next Editor-in-Chief, with the newspaper email and passcode, ad brochures and contracts, How-To’s (i.e. screenshot tutorials on how to upload PDFs to the site), et cetera. This will help with a smooth transition. 

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