Letter from the editor: How the Life and Arts editor comes up with stories
As Life and Arts editor, I always aim to bring a wide variety of content to my section. Since Life and Arts covers such a wide range of topics, it can be hard sometimes to choose what gets covered, but here is a rundown of how it normally goes.
The first thing I do when looking for a story idea is check my email. Everyday I get countless emails from on- and off-campus organizations that would like to have their events covered. I prioritize by looking for emails that come directly from the Moores School of Music, the School of Theatre and Dance and the Blaffer Art Museum. These have priority because they are the art departments on campus, and if I do not cover them constantly, no one else will. This is The Daily Cougar after all.
Once I have covered that ground and assigned them to writers, I check emails regarding off-campus events such as music concerts, festivals and things of the like. Since I have a set number of staff writers, I prioritize these events by how much I think students want to read or know about it. Finally, I send these assignments out to my writers with specific instructions.
Besides the event-driven stories, it is essential for the life and arts section to have lifestyle and enterprise pieces. These usually range from tips to getting a summer body, the benefits of yoga or how get the most benefit from the library and how to use its services to the maximum.
These types of stories can often be the hardest to pursue because they require more research than event driven stories. Writers have to find experts on campus that can speak with authority about the topic they are writing about. Lifestyle pieces also require that writers talk to as many students than they would when writing an event-driven story. These pieces also tend to be longer, so as an editor, I usually extend the word count from the standard 400 to 500 words.
Before sending writers out to the field to work on their enterprise or lifestyle pieces, I usually have a meeting with him or her to make sure that they know all the bases that must be covered like what the focus of the piece will be, the progression of it, who will be the sources, how many student quotes will be needed, the deadline and word count.
Another important part of of coming up with stories is figuring out what type of visual element is the best complement for it. For this I meet with the photo editors and production staff. I explain what the piece is about and what I have in mind as a visual element. Sometimes I will show them a picture I found in another publication or a page layout or graphic. From there, the photo editors and production staff make suggestions about what they think would look best. After that we brainstorm for a few more minutes and make a final decision.
A few days later the final product gets to readers online or the print product.
— Paulina Rojas, Life and Arts editor