Catherine McCormick’s application

1. Describe any academic, professional, and/or extracurricular experiences that qualify you to lead the University Press.

I have worked at the UP for just over 2 years now. When I first started out as a columnist, I never really imagined that I would be Editor-in-Chief, because it just didn’t seem like something I could do. Now that I’ve been Editor for a few months, I have gained an entirely different perspective on things. This job has meant a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours, and a lot of growing up. I haven’t gone a work day without learning something new since I started. I feel that I am highly qualified to continue being Editor – coming into this job, the UP had a lot of problems that I had to fix. I feel that I managed to hit the ground running and get these issues solved, and get the staff back into a consistent deadline schedule. Being the one to set rules and adjust pay back to our original budget was not easy, but I know that the staff understands that they were things that needed to be done. I am confident that, with a full term this time, I will be able to go the distance and keep things going.

2. Describe a major strength and a major weakness of the University Press this semester. Cite examples to support your claims.

The major strength is that we have a staff that is willing to learn and adapt to changes at the UP, whether it be changes in management, new systems and policies, or even just being receptive to the guest critiques I arranged. Hearing criticism is never easy, but what is harder is taking that criticism and turning it into a constructive change for the better is even harder. I know that this staff is willing to change the way they do things in the interest of the paper, and to look at it as a work in progress. We are all here to learn, and we are all learning every day.

The major weakness of the paper is still in what Koretzky calls “process.” While we’ve been good at keeping to deadlines and only breaking them in emergency cases with permission, I think that we still have many issues with internal communication. I told the staff this the other day – the reason we sign the budget together on Fridays is not because I felt like making a rule – it’s so that we can all see what is going into the issue, make suggestions and discuss what we’ve been doing. That isn’t happening, and while I can’t force the issue, I’m hoping that people come to staff meetings for more than just pizza. I invited Prof. Bailyn, Sonja and Dr. Tracy into the office so that the staff could get a real understanding of what a critique is, and gain a sense of perspective about the paper.

We need to be a staff that actively participates in meetings, rather than sit back and wait for someone else to say something.

3. Describe the most important goal you want to accomplish as editor, and detail exactly how you will do so.

I want the UP to be a resource to students. We can provide something to students something no other publication can – news tailored to them. Every student has a paid subscription, and while readership is not what it can be, we shouldn’t let that discourage us, but see it as a challenge. We need to show students that this is their paper, they pay for it, and if they don’t like it, they’d better speak up. No “real” newspaper covers FAU like we can and should – they don’t have the demand or the access that we have. I would much prefer that people know what the UP is, and don’t like what they see, than to just be apathetic to the whole thing. In order to gain readership, we need to increase visibility. We need to get out there and put the paper in students’ hands – our past few breezeway days have had poor staff attendance, something which should not happen. We can’t work in a bubble, where no one cares what happens after the paper goes to print. We need to be present at school events, with high visibility whether we are recruiting or covering the event.

4. As editor, what measures will you take to ensure the University Press covers every FAU campus?

This has been one of my major focuses this semester. We have been working at recruiting Broward writers in order to find a news editor for those campuses. The Broward representatives on the UWC have been very good to the UP in this regard – they have been sending us filled-out applications from students to help us find Broward coverage. On the Northern campuses, Heather has found several staff writers who cover MacArthur and Treasure Coast news. Also, we have covered many stories that were university-wide issues, which are of interest to students on any campus. When I give the UP’UPs monthly report at the UWC, we provide a content analysis with breakdown of coverage by campus – from this I have noticed that we are doing better than in the past but still have a ways to go.

5. As editor, what measures will you take to improve the University Press in the following areas: cover stories, copyediting, and design? Be specific.

Cover stories: Aside from requesting all section editors to write at least one, which I have already done, I think that all staff members should have a shot at writing one. Writing a cover is a daunting task to new writers or staff members who don’t usually write much. I think that we need to be willing to walk staff writers through the process the first time, and share the byline. It wouldn’t be as convenient for Vanessa or myself, but I think the end result would be worth it. This semester we took a few gambles with cover stories and they didn’t come out the way we hoped, but the risk is worth giving new people a chance to write a cover. I also hope to use winter break to get some evergreen cover stories written and designed, so that should we take a risk on a cover in the future, we have a “plan B.”

Copyediting: I would like to work with Tehmina in having a few copyediting workshops, where we can go over AP style and our own stylebook. Eventually, I would like to and make sure that everyone on staff is familiar with it – after all, the copyeditors’ jobs become much harder when the copy and cutlines put into the issue are from different people who all follow their own styles. This winter break, we are looking into revising the UP stylebook.

Design: One goal of mine is to hire more people for the design team. While it may seem easier to have a very small team, we should always have designers we can call when we need something done, so that the issue isn’t done last minute. When Stefanie and Leslie graduate in the spring, Andy will be the sole designer here. We need to hire new designers now so that we can train them and have them doing the basics, so that Leslie and Stef can focus on getting jobs.

Making sure that all deadlines for copy and design are enforced will also help with improving the design of the paper.