Semester reveals progress and challenges as editor-in-chief
Column by Taylor Soule
I’ve always loved birthdays. While the ready-made excuse to eat too much cake and ice cream plays a major part in my affinity for them, the appeal of a new phase and new beginning plays a major part, too. With my 21st birthday approaching on Sunday, I can’t help but reflect — on the fall, on my Drake University career so far and now, on (nearly) one-half of my tenure as Times-Delphic editor-in-chief.
When I originally planned the TD print agenda for 2013, one number mocked me from the page: 23. At eight pages an issue, approximately three stories per page, I faced a grand total of about 550 stories to edit. The number felt paralyzing and overwhelming.
Twenty-one issues later, that number feels neither paralyzing nor overwhelming, and I have my staff to thank for it.
At the beginning of my TD tenure, I clung to the naïve notion that I could handle nearly everything on my own. I’m a three-year TD editor, after all. It only took one too many cheery, “Yeah, I can do that,” promises to prove that I, in fact, can’t do it all.
Delegation has never been a preference of mine, but in one semester as EIC, I’ve learned to trust my staff. They’re a talented, creative and quirky bunch, and I’m doing the Drake community a favor when I let them showcase that flair.
I’m a lifelong planner and list aficionado, but I’ve learned that I can’t plan for everything. When I heard about the vandalism to six Greek street properties on Sept. 9, I had to set aside my original plans for the front page and my day to report on the incident.
As I step back from the whirlwind reporting, interviewing and writing of that day, a recent Society of Professional Journalists panel comes to mind. Brian Smith, the associate digital editor for social media at the Des Moines Register, said then-Editor and now-Publisher and President Rick Green routinely says, “Breaking news breaks the rules.”
While I’ve always adhered to my beloved to-do lists as a type of rulebook for each month, week and day, I’m working to embrace that idea.
Beyond a lifelong to-do list enthusiast, I’m a lifelong perfectionist. You know, that person who writes, erases and rewrites a letter when it doesn’t look quite right.
Since taking the helm at the TD, though, I’ve had to accept and embrace the chaotic and even calamity-laden layout process. Despite all my meticulous planning, list-making and organizing, not every layout can or will be flawless. It’s tough to admit, but to my surprise, I’ve come to love the nights in the office where everyone is talking (OK, it’s more like shouting), asking questions and listening to Justin Timberlake (maybe) a little too loud. When the newsroom is the craziest, loudest and most off-the-wall, it’s miraculously the most productive — and fun.
As another birthday approaches and as I enter another season of reflection (and copious amounts of Funfetti cake), I’m reminded again of how grateful I am for the opportunity to serve the Drake community and The Times-Delphic.
It’s not always orderly or perfect, and it rarely conforms to my latest to-do list, but working at the TD is undoubtedly the defining experience of my journalism career — so far.
Soule is a junior news-Internet and writing double major and can be reached at email@example.com