Reporters will get through any barrier as long as it means getting the story. However, it’s the editor-in-chief who is always one step ahead of the game in order to keep the attention of multi-tasking readers.
Being ready for anything would be the one necessity all past editors-in-chief of the Courier can agree on. Since its inception, the purpose of the Courier has been to deliver news to students written by PCC’s next generation of young journalists.
Like any clique in college, the journalism bunch can be found in the Courier office, on deadline or not.
Nicholas Saul, EIC back in 2012, said a normal day consists of “checking emails, editing stories, making fun of each other, going on smoke breaks and prowling the campus for some scoops.”
Yet it’s not all fun and games, especially when section editors and writers are looking to you to make quick decisions, keep everyone in check with deadlines, and find new and exciting ways to draw readers to pick up a newspaper in a digital age. Rest assured, the pressure is on.
“Being editor-in-chief requires a lot of patience, both with yourself and with your staff,” said Sara Medina, the EIC preceding Saul. “Some people take the paper very seriously but you also have to remember that it is a class, and it is a place to learn your craft.”
Having experienced objections from “multiple parties across campus” regarding her work, Medina abides by having thick skin.
“One of the biggest drawbacks of being a journalist is definitely the criticism you will receive at some point in your professional career, so being able to learn from your mistakes and not taking it personal is a characteristic that is absolutely imperative.”
Not all past EIC’s went into that leadership role with confidence. Saul, for instance, didn’t feel ready and found it difficult “being a boss.” Yet he faced his biggest challenge when then-adviser Warren Swil was put on administrative leave during an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior.
“The paper survived because everyone stepped up,” he said. “All the editors and staff writers really showed that we could produce and publish a genuine student newspaper.”
Soon enough, the Courier found itself with a fresh set of eyes and younger blood with Nathan McIntire as the new adviser in 2013. After Saul departed, Christine Michaels was elevated to the EIC position.
“I was ready when I started. It was a dream,” Michaels said.
Neil Protacio faced a similar situation to Saul’s and stepped in during the spring of 2012, a difficult and controversial time in PCC politics. Protacio recalls sources or unsatisfied staff “yelling over the phone or to his face, no matter how fair and balanced a reporter tries to be.” Cases like this are just another part of job.
“My semester was marred with controversy. Rumors and allegations were flying. Protests were taking place on the first day of school. I remember a Board of Trustees meeting practically going down in flames,” Protacio said.
What is certain is that every editor-in-chief brought his or her flair and style and left a legacy behind that they will be able to use in the professional journalism field. As a student assistant for the marketing department at Cal State Northridge, Michaels still finds herself using a lot of the skills she learned with the Courier. In order to reach a wider audience, Michaels is one of many saddened to see the dying tradition of newspapers and the need for incessant digital content.
“I find it’s vital to go into the new world of digital media, because that’s really where it lives,” she said.