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Audrey Miller reflects on time at the VanCougar’s helm

The VanCougar recently had the chance to speak with Audrey Anna Miller, former editor-in-chief of this publication.  Miller reflected on her time leading this publication and had some advice for potential new staff members.

Q:  Can you describe a normal day running the VanCougar?

AM:  I think the best thing about running the VanCougar is no day is the same. I never felt like I was falling into a monotonous routine. When I came into the office I could go from interviewing individuals for a story, editing, meeting with journalists and editors, working with the layout staff to build the paper, or a hundred different things. As the editor-in-chief, you are truly a jack-of-all-trades.

As soon as you step into work each day you are working on every aspect of the publication. Every day is new and exciting and as quickly as the news happens you are shifting gears and coordinating the whole staff to get out there and bring back the story.

Q: What are some accomplishments in your tenure that you would like to highlight?

AM: I started working with the paper at a difficult time. It had recently restructured and the very nature of its purpose was in question. I worked with the previous EIC extensively to ensure a smooth transition would support continued progress toward the overall improvement and accessibility of the publication. One of my first projects was working to launch the website that had been in production for almost a year. With that site we were able to reach an entirely new audience on campus. Not only was the website well received on campus but it also won one of the most prestigious awards a university news publication website could win, a Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press. This national award validated the excellent work of the staff and informed us of the standard of excellence we could reach together. Harvard and Berkeley’s university publication websites were also in that category.

Q: What skills have you gained from being EiC that have benefitted you after your tenure?

AM: As a graduate student, I thought I knew everything there was about writing and editing, but I was wrong. The most important skill I learned was to always be writing. In fact, that should be your new mantra, Always Be Writing. You can always be a better writer and a good writer is only as good as their editing and the work they do with an editing team. No matter who you are or how great you think your writing is, you can always improve.

I employ the Japanese business management philosophy of “kaizen” to all of my work. Kaizen tells us we can always improve. As a writer you can always improve every time you sit down to tell a new story.

Q:  Why should people get involved with the VanCougar?

AM: The reasons to get involved with the VanCougar are innumerable. Obviously you will meet new people and have an amazing new experience, that’s what everyone will tell you. But I think the most important reason you should get involved is you will learn more about yourself and what you are capable of than ever before. The job is demanding but it will push you to work harder than you thought possible. As a graduate student at the time I was not working to gain job experience in the field of journalism. In fact, most of the VanCougar staff is not working toward a career in journalism. However, I knew, as does the staff, that learning how to write and edit with deadlines as part of a team is invaluable work experience regardless of future career aspirations. You’ll never write as much, as fast, and in such a critical team environment as you would with the VanCougar. No classroom experience can match the skills and lessons you will learn from running the VanCougar.

Applications for the position of editor-in-chief, as well as many other posts in student media, are still open until Wednesday.

Applications, as well as more information on the position requirements, can be found on CougSync at https://orgsync.com/26827/news_posts/137142

Photo Credit: Kerold Layne Jeffrey

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