Our guest post this week is from Jacob Ellerbee, executive editor at The UALR Forum.
My name is Jacob Ellerbee and I’m the Executive Editor of The UALR Forum, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s student newspaper. I am a senior student majoring in mass communication with a minor in psychology.
I’ve been working at The Forum for about a year now and what a whirlwind experience it has been!
Just recently, I was named the Executive Editor, but it didn’t happen overnight. I worked hard, experienced a lot, and wrote countless stories. I saw things and did things no ordinary college student would get to experience as a member of The Forum –
- I’ve been 10 feet away from Buzz Aldrin, one of only 12 men to ever step foot on another world.
- I covered a game in which Tony Mitchell, a men’s basketball player from North Texas, was playing against UALR. At the end of the season, he was drafted 37 by the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association.
- I’ve talked to Jack Russell of the band Great White. Their 1989 album, “…Twice Shy,” sold more than 2 million copies in the United States.
- I’ve gotten to meet several people with incredible stories, right on our campus at UALR: everything from a student finishing the Little Rock Marathon to a woman detailing her life as a non-traditional college student.
- I’ve been to some really neat places, with special access as a reporter. I got to sit courtside at the Sun Belt Conference basketball tournament in Hot Springs. I’ve wandered the historic Ole Miss campus on a trip as a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. And I’ve been on a smelly tour bus of a Swedish heavy metal band to learn about their first tour in the United States. Some glamorous, some not so glamorous.
As Executive Editor, I continue to be a reporter and manage our social media accounts. But now, I have to do it with much more responsibility and with a wider scope.
I oversee a staff of about 20 students. I make sure the paper is constructed correctly and edited well. I have to make sure it’s sent off to the Saline Courier on time and that it’s available to the more than 12,000 students at UALR in a timely manner (Wednesday mornings, to be more specific). I also have to be a teacher, a mentor, a consultant, enforcer and advisor to my staff as they work on their stories.
Not only do I do all of this, but I do it while taking 15 hours worth of classes.
I am also doing this in the middle of a time in which journalism – the very industry I’m learning about and working in – is at a corssroads: adapt or die. You don’t have to look too far to see that much of the industry is changing. And it’s changing quickly.
Our publication is printed on 12 pages of paper, but I have to keep in mind that we are living in the Digital Age. Long gone are the days of printing the newspaper, letting the reader digest it and thinking that’s enough. You have to fight for every reader’s attention now.
So, to adapt, we promote our stories where readers are spending the majority of their time: on their phones using apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine. We post all of our stories on our website. We publish our newspaper in a digital and tablet-friendly format, in order for readers to access the same newspaper that’s on newsstands on campus, from anywhere in the world.
We have to work harder to find more interesting stories, which will appeal to an extremely diverse audience. I’m learning how to manage and push my staff in such a way that will help them go out and find those stories that will entertain, inform and move our readers.
Hopefully, if we do a good enough job, readers will come back and read our product again and again.
I invite any student at UALR to get in touch with me to become a member of our growing team. We pay our staff for every story, photo, video, graphic and design.