Park Scholar Megan Devlin '14 will be next year's editor-in-chief
Megan Devlin '16 was chosen to be the Editor-in-Chief of Ithaca's award-winning weekly newspaper, The Ithacan.
Q: Why did you choose to apply to be the Editor-in-Chief?
A: The idea of Editor in Chief first came up my freshmen year when I was Assistant Accent Editor for The Ithacan. Michael Serino actually mentioned that it was something he could envision me taking on in a few years. After a summer in D.C. working as an intern through the Park Center for Independent Media, I came back to The Ithacan as Opinion Editor. There, I found more of my voice and began editorializing about critical issues we covered and finding commentaries to discuss more justice-oriented issues. The following semester, I studied abroad in Morocco and came back after a summer in San Francisco feeling refreshed yet unsure of what I wanted to do this year. I took up different leadership opportunities, like Senior Week and Colleges Against Cancer, and served only as a writer for The Ithacan. While my time away gave me the chance to explore my curiosity about event planning and work on some other communication consulting projects, there was a bit of a void. When I was approached about applying for Editor in Chief, I spent most of March thinking about the opportunity. Ultimately, I decided to apply for the position because of 1) my passion for journalism and its ability to be an agent of change in communities, 2) the leadership and management experience I would gain from overseeing a staff of nearly 100 writers, editors, designers and photographers, 3) the continual learning I would be part of with each new story, project, design, relationship and situation encountered, and 4) the potential to change the perception of The Ithacan on campus. I decided that this would be the most rewarding, challenging and fitting way to spend my senior year, give back to the college, and help provide the campus community with the public service that is journalism.
Q: Why did you decide to switch to CMD from journalism? How will this prepare you for your role?
A: While I came in as a Journalism major, I switched to CMD because of the broad range of skills and experience I could gain in a field of study that is applicable to every organization. Journalism is my passion, and something I view as a civic duty and responsibility. However, I was learning more on the paper than I was in some of my courses at the time in terms of practical application. Thus, I wanted to take the opportunity to expand my understanding of "communications," specifically the interpersonal and internal organizational aspects. My focus and growing interest in crisis management, conflict resolution, organizational cultures, leadership development and management are strengths that I hope to bring to my new roles as EIC. As the "chief" leader of the newspaper, I have to help manage the moving parts a production cycle, guide my editors in their development of story and design ideas, provide ways to boost morale and team-building, launch community engagement initiatives that will reach the wider campus community, along with other interpersonal and organizational components that make a group of people with a purpose and passion operate effectively. Reading stories, critiquing design and editing copy are the minor aspects of the job. All the other components are integral to helping us attain our goals and take steps to achieve the vision we have as a editorial team for the upcoming year.
My CMD courses, experiences working on communications and human rights campaigns, and communications consulting work have prepared me for the core aspects of this job. However, if it were not for my experiences interning in new cities, traveling and studying in different countries, and taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded to me at IC in my past three years, I would not have the confidence or drive to lead this newspaper.
Q: What do you think will be your biggest challenge next year?
A: Some of the biggest challenges I foresee next year start at the personal level. My lack of News editing experience makes me a bit nervous, considering that I have not written many stories for this section, nor interned at a "hard news" outlet. However, I will strive to overcome this obstacle by bringing on board a former News editor who will work closely with the News team to do investigative reporting. This will be almost a fourth editor position, though solely dedicated to the research and important news we need to feature in our pages. I also believe my experience working for a political news magazine and on political and justice-oriented campaigns will aide in my ability to ask the larger questions, keep the bigger picture in mind, and address some of the global issues implicit in the news we report, all while making it relevant to our campus audience. As a newspaper, our biggest challenge is pushing for stronger 24-hour news coverage and online engagement through our web presence. Through collaboration with section editors, and by bringing on board new assistant editors to our web and multimedia roles, we hope to expand our coverage and build more interaction with readers. The more brains we have contributing ideas and creating content, the more time we can dedicate and opportunities we can seize to push our content in new directions, integrate interactive media, and build a community and spark dialogue around our news.
Q: What advice do you have for underclassmen that want to become the editor?
A: For any underclassmen eager to follow this path, I would impart a few pieces of advice:
1) Take advantage of opportunities presented to you. Sometimes we don't understand or can't explain why things happen, but when we go with what's in front of us and take risks, sometimes we find ourselves. I have learned from every experience, whether good or bad, and become more self-aware in doing so. This has helped me better understand my strengths, weaknesses, passions and interests.
2) Get involved early. By spring of freshmen year, I was already an editor for the paper. By summer, I had two internships lined up in D.C. and was eager to return as an editor in the fall. Over the years, I have stayed involved in a variety of campus organizations that resonate with my interests in and passions for service, advocacy, human rights, journalism, communications consulting and event planning. Through these involvements, I have a better understanding of myself, and my goals for next year and after graduation.
3) Don't over think things. I let myself get caught up in what I was "supposed to do" early on. Retrospectively, I wish I had taken more risks, been more spontaneous, and made mistakes so I could learn from each sooner. It wasn't until going abroad and meeting new people in a foreign country did I challenge the American push to do more, keep busy, plan ahead. Living in the moment was liberating: I wasn't thinking about my "four-year-and-after-college" plan. I didn't feel pressured to provide a concrete answer every time someone asked what my next steps were or what career I wanted to pursue. Rather, I decided to take the advice of my program advisor in Morocco, who said: "live where your feet are." Take each day as its own, appreciate the small things and people you're with, celebrate your daily achievement, acknowledge your feelings, work to overcome in defeat. While it sounds philosophical, I learned to take one day at a time. This helped me take more self-initiative, connect with others more deeply and begin defining my own success.
These are some reasons why I'm so eager to now step into a role that will be a yearlong challenge to help myself and my fellow staff grow and develop into strong and passionate journalists who produce investigative, creative and cutting edge work that engages our readers and truly makes a difference in our campus community.
Originally published in Park Scholar Program: Park Scholar Megan Devlin '14 will be next year's editor-in-chief.