Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Devin Desjarlais

Devin Desjarlais

Junior, Multimedia Communications

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

Since becoming Editor in Chief (EIC) last June, I have learned what it means – and what it doesn’t mean – to be a leader. What it doesn’t mean is micro-managing your staff. Instead, being the EIC is about organizing a newspaper around the thoughts and ideas that spring from the creativity of its writers, editors, photographers, and copy editors.

In the last five months I’ve learned that being the EIC doesn’t mean directing. It means being able to encourage our team to explore their ideas while providing them with the resources and knowledge to make that happen. In walking this path, I’ve seen genius come from our UP staff.

Admittedly, when I started as EIC, I had little experience managing a staff. I’d been the News Editor for a semester, and from that had learned a bit about the inner-workings of a collegiate newspaper. I had managed a small team, but I had always had the former EIC, Michele Boyet, as my ally. Now I’m learning from Michael Koretzky, the University Press adviser, what it really means to encourage a team to grow in its ideas and ability to work cohesively, all the while making sure we follow the ethics of journalism.

In the short time I have been EIC, despite the fact that my staff is one of the newest, it’s also been called “one of the hardest working.” We’ve been commended for a cover story by a journalism professor, and I can only imagine that we’ll continue to grow and improve as a staff of dedicated young journalists.

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

Our News section has been a major strength this semester thanks to my News Editor, Monica Ruiz. I taught her how to edit and work with the writers. But since then, without much guidance from me, she has been able to lead the news section fairly flawlessly. She’s become adept at finding new stories by digging deeper into broader issues, which is something I struggled with as News Editor myself. Ultimately, her dedication has shown in the strength of our news section, which often controls a major portion of each week’s issue.

Our major weakness this semester is still communication between staff members. As the News Editor in the Spring semester, I found that communication among the different sections of the UP was haphazard at best. The design staff didn’t think to communicate with the news section, and the photographers were often left out of the loop altogether. One of my main goals as Editor in Chief was to improve that internal communication and get the different sections communicating freely without any prompting. I’m pleased to say we’ve achieved that to a large extent. But we have a lot of room to grow.

We have gotten much better at communicating electronically via email or text messaging; I’m no longer am forced to encourage communication on Thursday nights before final proof. That said, while the staff members have gotten better at internal communication, they’re often unsure about how to best express the needs of their sections. Because of this, they sometimes resist speaking up when it’s really needed.

I do my best to encourage our editors to open up when they have problems with staff members, and I often instruct them on constructive ways to do that. It’s a slow process, but lately I’ve noticed that our Editors have been kindly but firmly addressing the problems they’re having from week to week, and they’re often fixing those problems quickly.

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

As Editor in Chief, I want to continue to improve our online readership, which means improving the amount of traffic to our web site, as well as to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. I want to start using our newspaper to refer to online stories more than we do now, and ultimately I want each news story to have a web component linked to it.

In the last two semesters we’ve done a much better job providing web content, such as new photos and stories. Over the summer we made it a goal to change the “photo of the day” on our web site, upressonline.com, three days a week to gain more attention. This fall the photo editor, Stephanie Colaianni, and the multimedia editor, Jordan Blanchett, decided to increase that to five or more days a week. Now we not only upload photos regularly, we often make it a point to refer in print to an accompanying online story. Because of the attention we’ve paid to our web site, we’ve been receiving more attention from readers, including regular comments from a number of them.

To gain more web attention, I’m also aware that we have to appeal more to alumni and our students’ parents. They want to be part of the lives of their children and the activities of their alma mater. We have great potential to cultivate their readership and loyalty even more.

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

My recommendation for ensuring that the UP covers every FAU campus isn’t so much a novel method, but one that has proven to work for us in the past two semesters – networking. Since I began my job as Editor in Chief we have gained two staff members on the Jupiter campus and have made contacts with people on the Davie and Port St. Lucie campuses as well.

Because of the students we’ve networked with, we’ve been able to cover the Jupiter campus twice in print and three times on line, Davie once in print, Harbor Branch (Port St. Lucie) once in print, and we’ve published a few print stories that have covered several different campuses at once.

I realized since starting as EIC that it’s the students on the different campuses who are better able to give the UP a feel for what should be covered. After all, they’re the ones who live there, study there, and sometimes work there. While it would be nice for the UP to travel and cover other campuses, our heavy workload doesn’t make that an easy task. That’s why the staff members we’ve acquired on other campuses are such an asset to the paper, and why I’ll continue to work with them to gain even more staff members on more campuses.

5. What original ideas do you have, and what specific resources will you commit, to UP Online?

As Editor in Chief I made it a goal to increase our online readership. Because of that, I started the UP Facebook Fan Page (FAU University Press) and our Twitter account (upressonline). As I mentioned, I now realize our web site has to appeal to more alumni and parents. That’s why I plan on working with Jordan, our multimedia editor, to set up an RSS feed that would allow alumni and parents to subscribe to the UP’s news feed. This way they would be able to easily acquire all news that is FAU – but it would instantly come to them without their having to seek it out.

The job of this RSS feed would be to make it much easier for people to receive UP news stories without having to do more work than clicking a button to subscribe. I also realize that to get these alumni and parents to subscribe to our RSS feed, we need to have a way to reach them and attract them. I have been in contact with Paul Metcalf, adviser for the Student Alumni Association (SAA) who is interested in helping me reach FAU alumni. With his help I think the UP will be able to reach out farther than ever before.

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