Letter from the Editor: The Cougar needs your help to rebuild
After two years with The Cougar, I had thought I was done with introductions. But, here we are. My name is Jasmine Davis, and I’ll be your editor-in-chief for the remainder of the 2018-2019 academic term.
The Cougar — much like many of our professional counterparts — has had a tough few years. Readership and revenue for traditional print journalism is down, and our audience has increasingly flocked to social media and other online mediums for their daily news digest.
This year, The Cougar is going to focus on rebuilding. We’re going to meet our audience where they are, regardless of the new skills we have to learn to do so. There exists an intersection of the interests and capabilities of our staff and the desires of our readership, and we intend to spend this year finding it.
As student leaders, we’re told to keep the conversation positive. I’m sure many of you are expecting me to use this page to tell you about all the things The Cougar does well. I’ll get there, but I feel it’s also important to acknowledge our shortcomings.
We don’t make it to every event. We know there are plenty of stories going untold in the University of Houston community. We even know there is at least a handful of people in this community who avoid talking to the newspaper because they don’t trust us to do a good job.
In addition to serving as one of the only news outlets covering UH exclusively, The Cougar is intended to serve as a learning laboratory. The Cougar, among the other organizations housed in the Center for Student Media, is supposed to be the starting place for any UH student interested in a career in journalism.
While we hope our audience learns more about their University with each passing issue of the newspaper, we learn as much — if not more — from your feedback.
We take each comment, criticism and share of our content into consideration. As much as it warms our hearts to hear we’ve done a good job with a story, it is the negative feedback that most prepares us to enter the journalism industry, and I’m not just talking about developing a tough skin.
The need to provide our audience with not just the news they need, but also the news they want to read, will not end with our time at The Cougar. Just because we’ve put a lot of effort into a story and think it’s important to the community doesn’t mean it’s something that community is interested in reading.
We’ve said it a million times, but I’m here to say it again: Please tell us what you want to see in The Cougar. Our emails are always open for tips, or anything else you have to say about the job we do.
Journalism comes with an inherent passion for the truth. We believe that no matter what you have to say, we can be only bettered by knowing.
Speaking for myself and every other member of our Editorial Board, thank you for this opportunity. Despite the constant looming stress that is print Tuesday, the day each week we finalize our layouts and send the paper to the printer, there is no place we would rather be.
Something I’m proud to say about this newspaper is that regardless the mistakes we make and learn from, members of The Cougar go on to do great things.
The former editor-in-chief, Emily Burleson, spent this summer working as part of the prestigious Dow Jones internship and is currently interning at the Houston Chronicle. Our former web editor, Marialuisa Rincon, is a reporter with the Houston Chronicle. Both executive leaders from the 2016-2017 term went on to attend graduate school at New York University.
These individuals represent only a fraction of those whose careers The Cougar has successfully helped launch. No breaking news story, feature or award could ever make me more proud than the success of these colleagues.
Speaking of awards, The Cougar is a finalist this year for the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Award — the highest honor in collegiate journalism. We are one of 37 newspapers in the county to be recognized, and one of five in Texas.
We won this award in 2011, again in 2016.
In the two years I’ve spent in this newsroom, I’ve experienced immeasurable growth both as a journalist and as a person. Some of the best friendships I’ve ever had began in this newsroom, and I can say, definitively, that being part of The Cougar has left me more prepared for whatever career I embark on after graduation, even if it isn’t in media, than I ever imagined.