The Student Publications Committee elected senior Ronnie Turner as the new editor in chief for The Daily Cougar at its meeting Thursday.
Turner became the interim editor in chief in early October after Matt Miller resigned for personal reasons.
Miller remains at The Daily Cougar as its Web editor.
‘He is still with the paper,’ Turner said. ‘He is our Web editor now, and he helps out with other things, like football. He is also a consultant. He is just in a slightly different role, and I am glad to have him around.’
Turner is a history and print journalism senior and brings a great deal of experience to the position.
He began writing for the sports section of the paper as a freshman and continues to help with coverage of the UH football team. He has also served as sports editor, a copy editor and managing editor for the newspaper.
‘I had enough experience in several different roles that qualify me for this position,’ he said. ‘I have done everything you can possibly do here.’
Turner also works at the Houston Chronicle as a Web producer and freelance sports writer.
‘It is the right time, and I am thoroughly prepared to lead a newspaper that is in the maturing state, a newspaper that is undergoing some changes and some struggles,’ he said. ‘You need somebody who’s been there and done that to lead it through. Otherwise, they might be overwhelmed because they have to deal with so many different things.’
Turner said he had big plans for the paper, particularly helping it become a more online-friendly news source.
‘My biggest thing is I want to take The Daily Cougar into its next phase, which at this point is improving its Web site and getting more online content and more videos, because that is (where) the future of the industry is going,’ he said. ‘Newspapers are having to adapt to an audience that is going increasingly more to the Internet.’
He also said he wants to focus on improving the quality of stories being put into the paper.
‘I don’t want to go away from the basic principles of journalism, (which are) accurate stories that are well-written, well-researched, fact checked and objective. Those things are still in place,’ Turner said.
Turner also hopes to get journalism students working for the paper during their first two years of college rather than just at the end.
‘I want to get more young people to come and write for The Daily Cougar,’ Turner said. ‘We have been relying a bit too much on juniors and seniors.’
He said having students work at The Daily Cougar as they begin their studies will make the newspaper more stable and will help students develop their writing skills sooner.
‘I would suggest that all freshman journalism majors write for the paper because you have to get experience if you want to get internships and entry-level jobs,’ Turner said. ‘Nobody is going to take you seriously if you don’t have any experience. And the college newspaper is where everyone can get that experience. If the opportunity exists here on campus, then why not take it?’
He also said improving the newspaper’s Web site involves making it more interactive and easier to navigate. This would happen, he said, once The Daily Cougar finishes its contract with College Publisher.
‘We are going to have more control over it, (and) we are going to be able to decide what it looks like,’ he said. ‘Right now, we have a contract with College Publisher, and there are a few restrictions. We are going to change that, and it should be launched by next semester.’
Turner said that some of the implementations will take time, he but is willing to spend his time as editor in chief to build the foundation for future Daily Cougar staff.
‘It is a slow process and is probably a process I won’t be around to see the end of, but my plan is to, more or less, build a foundation so (that) when the next person comes along, they won’t have to build from scratch in terms of our Web content and our personnel,’ Turner said. ‘Hopefully, they will have a nice, stable staff in place, and graduation won’t come to kill it like it has the past two semesters.’