Application for Editor

Michele BoyetYear: Junior, GPA: 3.0 Major: Public CommunicationMinors: Political Science & Sociology

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

I have been with the University Press for three years now and have held just about every position from copy editing to business management. I understand what it’s like to be a new person in our chaotic newsroom and I am able to use my experience to recruit and keep new staff members. I have also spent most of the past two years at the UP in management, serving most recently as the online managing editor and currently as the interim editor in chief.

As the online editor, I compiled, assigned and edited daily stories and multimedia using UP resources to bring a greater presence to the Web. I have also implemented a redesign of the homepage and helped create jump sites for special coverage. Under my direction our online readership has nearly doubled and we now average 600 hits per day.

Outside of the UP I have worked as a member of the night Web team at the Palm Beach Post and recently landed a new job as an associate producer with the Sun-Sentinel. I have also freelanced for the Post’s Residences section and the Sentinel’s College View. I have also done freelance public relations writing with Pollack Communications for 13 area Forum Publishing publications since May 2006.

Unlike the other candidates, I do not just think I can lead the UP, for the past month I actually have. After the editor in chief stepped down in the end of February, I was appointed interim editor in chief. Although I spent much of my first two weeks as editor fixing errors and correcting problems, under my leadership the UP has shown significant improvement. During this time, I have improved the level of communication and collaboration and began to implement the foundation for a new structure. We still have a long way to go, but I feel I have the management skills and the vision to bring the UP through next semester.

2. Describe a major strength and major weakness of the University Press this semester (Spring 2008). Cite specific examples to support your claims.

In my time at the UP I have been very fortunate to work with a variety of talented editors and leaders but sadly, this past semester has been extremely rough. In fact, I can say without a doubt, this past semester has been the worst for the UP in quite some time. So in turn, it is hard to find a major strength in the paper itself. Our greatest strength this semester has been the staff’s willingness and ability to overcome our former editor’s incompetence while learning from his mistakes.

The UP has had its share of weaknesses this semester but our main major weakness has been a lack of news coverage – both breaking and investigative. Until this week (April 10 print issue) we have not covered real news in print at all. While we are getting increasingly better at covering campus events, we are still struggling to cover actual hard news. While feature stories and sports are fun and enjoyed by our readers, it is our duty as a student newspaper to cover the news.

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

I want the UP to be the first place students, faculty and staff turn to for news about everything FAU. In order to become that, we need to present every story to our readers with an FAU angle that they can only find from our paper or on our Web site.

I plan to, and have already started, recruiting and training new staff members and building a team of reporters and photojournalists. Right now we have a handful of writers and photographers but I plan to change the culture of the newsroom so that we have a direct focus. Because of our tabloid size and magazine design style, the UP has always been in between a magazine and a regular newspaper. I’d like for us to pick one consistent style and stick to it. Keeping in mind our audience, my goal is for us to resemble Time and Newsweek, presenting the facts with a unique edge.

To carry out this goal I plan to hold 30-minute weekly editors meetings and monthly brainstorming sessions, while maintaining an open-door creative environment.

4. What novel methods will you employ to ensure the University Press covers every FAU campus?

Covering all of FAU’s campuses has always been a struggle. Recently I promoted one or our staff writers to a new position called campus editor. Currently our campus editor compiles a weekly listing of campus-wide FAU events and activities, which we use to assign stories and photo assignments.

While this list currently includes the big events taking place on other campuses, my goal is to create a new position for an editor who will have the sole responsibility of compiling news and events on FAU’s partner campuses. The partner campus editor would be someone who works out of our office but communicates directly with partner campus Student Government and student representatives to ensure the UP is covering each FAU campus and reaching its students.

5. What original ideas do you have, and what specific resources will you commit, to covering FAU news – both breaking and investigative – in print and on the Web?

Because I believe our lack of real news coverage has been our greatest weakness this semester, it is very important to me that we set up a system for news coverage. My plans for creating a new structure for the UP are directly related to how we cover news – beginning with the culture of the newsroom and how we discuss stories. I think this process is also directly attached to the recruitment of new reporters and the process in which we train them. I plan to recruit heavily toward the end of this semester and use the summer months to train new staff writers by bringing in outside sources and guest speakers, holding weekly writers meetings and working closely with writers every step of the way.

As well as implementing a culture and attitude change among the staff, I plan to create and maintain a beat system. While it may not be my own “original” idea, creating a beat system for reporting is something that other professional papers use and an idea that has been discussed around the newsroom but never implemented. It is also very important to me, and several other editors, that we create and maintain a staff manual which outlines the details of how everything is run at the UP – including the beat process for stories. It is my goal that this staff manual will be completed by the end of the summer semesters as well as three cover stories for Fall.

I think it is also important to note the difference between print and Web, analyzing the effectiveness of each story in both locations. All breaking news should be covered on the Web as soon as possible and investigative pieces with more analysis are best suited for print. It is also important to me that the print and the Web utilize all of the UP’s resources – including photography, design and video – in order to create comprehensive packages for every story. Collaboration among every section and department is the key to the UP’s continued success.