Though I started as a news reporter and had a few years of experience under my belt when I became Editor-in-Chief, being an editor has improved my reporting and writing significantly. I’m good at playing with feature ledes, alternative story structure and clarifying complex issues. Below are a few stories that I directed, sourced and edited as Editor-in-Chief.
Reporting in Courts and Requesting Public Records
- Former UVM employee says she brought gun to student party
- No damages awarded after trial
- Ex-staffer viewed porn on job
We’d received a press release from a local law firm saying that a gender discrimination lawsuit the paper had covered years before was finally going to trial. A former IT employee was suing the University. She claimed she worked in a hostile environment, was paid less than male co-workers and was unfairly terminated. No other news outlets were covering the case. I went down to the courthouse early the next morning, requested all of the court’s documents on the trial, and prepared to sift through binders worth of motions, evidence and bland court proceedings.
We covered the lawsuit, but because I encouraged our news team to get excited about the case and use it as a learning experience about public records, trial coverage and court documents, we ended up getting six, solid stories about the issue. We found that another IT worker had been accused of pointing a gun at a party of UVM students; we found that a supervisor in the IT office had admitted to watching porn at work; we found two charges of DUIs among the office staff.
The more we looked, the more stories we found. To me, this was a lesson in developing sidebar stories, digging deeper and filing public records requests. By teaching a team of editors and reporters when, where and how to find this sort of information, I learned how to myself.
Covering Racial Justice Protests in Real Time
In the spring semester, a racial justice group that formed a year before began organizing protests and rallies calling for change. They called for top UVM administrators to resign, for courses to be restructured, for radical changes in the way that the University handled bias incidents. I directed multimedia coverage of the protests as they unfolded over the course of two weeks, giving the campus and larger community a clear picture of what was happening on campus.
Beyond that, I directed the coverage of a number of racially charged incidents that happened on campus through the year: we reported when posters reflecting a white nationalist movement went up around campus, when a student was overheard making racial threats in the library and when an employee went on a hunger strike for racial justice. Throughout the semester, our coverage or escalating racial tensions on campus earned us attention from diversity groups, alumni, readers and administrators. We remained unbiased and thorough in our reporting, and sought to accurately and completely cover the range of experiences on campus.