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Union Weekly editor talks bad press, leadership

Q: To start off, can you tell me your year and major?

A: I’m a junior here at Cal State and I’m double majoring in music and creative writing.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being editor-in-chief at The Union Weekly?

A: My favorite part is definitely being able to work with these really talented people that come in. Most of the people who come into The Union are really self-driven and they’re really active and they really want to be there. So it’s great to just deal with people that like what they’re doing and can contribute so much to our paper.

Q: How long have you been on staff with The Union Weekly for?

A: This is my third year. I came in as a freshman. I was a staff writer my freshman year and I was opinions editor last year and then I applied for the editor-in-chief position and I got it.

Q: How would you describe The Union Weekly to someone who’s never read it in ten words or less?

A: The Union is a fun way to get your news on campus and laugh at the same time.

Q: I understand that the Student Media Advisory Board has made some changes for The Union and the other ASI-funded media outlets?

A: Basically a lot of the operating procedures were- the language was just a little muddled. So we just really simple went in and changed all the language so it’s very straight, forward so everyone understands exactly how the media outlets work. And we also added in some basic first amendment language just to make it clear what is and isn’t illegal according to the first amendment. So it’s just very straight, forward in case there are any conflicts or anyone’s confused about anything; it’s very easy to say this is what’s right and this isn’t. And it’s become very straight, forward and it’s a lot easier to use.

Q: Are there any new regulations for the way you guys do things at The Union?

A: There actually aren’t, the language was just, as I said, made straight, forward. If anything, it became more clear that The Union is protected by first amendment rights, which has always been the case. Just to make that very clear for everyone that The Union is a student publication and it’s students’ voice and that is completely protected by all of the constitutions’ amendments. So that’s pretty much all it did, we didn’t really change anything in particular.

Q: What are your thoughts on last semesters’ Pow Wow story by Noah Kelly and the reaction to it?

A: I would have to say it [the article] was insensitive. If anything my staff is going to and has been just steering away from that sort of attention grabbing. We don’t want negative attention and we never have been for that kind of thing. It was what it was and it’s over now and we’re not bringing that up in any way with this staff.

Q: Do you think either Noah Kelly or then editor-in-chief Kevin O’Brien could have done more in terms of editing and review before the story was printed?

A: I think it honestly was just something that he wrote and it was his opinion. I think it could have perhaps gone on the opinions page. But honestly it was just one of those, I mean you guys work in a newspaper too; it was one of those 200-word stories that went in the paper. The Union is known for being opinionated so it just went with the paper at the time. It was unfortunate that it was taken so seriously. And of course The Union should be taken seriously, but the things he said were definitely taken out of context.

Q: What did you think of the petition to remove Kevin O’Brien from his position as editor-in-chief?

A: I thought it was a little bit of an over reaction. I completely understand the sentiment behind all of the protestors, but for the most part I thought that Kevin was doing his job. There are three things in the new operating procedures of The Union that would allow an editor-in-chief to be removed and he wasn’t offending or crossing the line of any of those things. I understand the anger. I thought it was an over reaction, but I don’t think that he should have been removed and I’m glad he wasn’t.

Q: What are the three things in the new operating procedures that would allow an editor-in-chief to be removed?

A: Basically it’s a lot of law jargon. But basically it’s doing your job incorrectly, purposely doing your job wrong, like actively trying to do a bad job or just not doing your job. So those are three things that can pretty much get anyone in charge removed from their position.

Q: As the new editor-in-chief do you feel like you and The Union had anything to prove this semester?

A: I wouldn’t say we had anything to prove, I would just say that we are a smart and intelligent group of people that really just love what we do and I think if we do that, then that’s enough. That’s showing enough of who we are, just doing what we do and that we can do it well and that’s all we really need to prove.

Q: What struggles have you faced this semester as editor-in-chief?

A: I wouldn’t say it’s a struggle in The Union, I would say mostly that just personal scheduling with all of our staff. We have such a big staff and all of our staff are volunteers. So having them devote so much of their time is really just a blessing for them to do that. They have to clear their schedule for something that is really just all-volunteer work. So it’s hard scheduling things when you have so many people to work with. But that’s probably been the only difficult part of it so far. It’s just been really fun and a good experience.

Q: Is non-Union staff participation up or down from last semester?

A: I’d actually say it’s about equal so far. We always have dips in the semester just because midterms come around, but there’s always just a constant wave of people coming in. This semester it’s actually really cool because we technically have more non-Union staff just contributors just coming in because more people are just e-mailing me their article and more people are interested that just happen to not be able to make the staff meeting, but there’s people all over campus that really want to get their word out. So technically I guess we have more people interested than last year.

Q: What are your plans post graduation?

A: I guess my fall back plan is to be an English teacher. Otherwise I would love to work for some other publication like The OC Weekly or even a bigger national magazine. I’d really like to continue writing, just with the English language in general.

Q: What are your goals for The Union Weekly?

A: For The Union, in particular I would definitely like us to be the most professional publication we possibly can. I’d like to give something to the students that all the students are aware of and know about and know that we’re something they can enjoy and not something they can only get knowledge from and news from, but something that can make them laugh and something that pertains to their interests. So I just really want The Union to be something that’s very professional and that we who work so hard at it can be proud of at the end of the year.

Q: Jumping back to the Student Media Advisory Board, I understand that there’s a part they included about mandatory training? Can you tell me anything about that?

A: Yeah, the mandatory training was actually really awesome. We got Dr. Craig Smith from the first amendment studies here on campus, who is a nationally and internationally known professor and doctor on
the subject, and he just came in and talked to us. Really all it was, he just went over the first amendment with us and just laid out how protected we really are and how many things we can say that can’t get us in trouble. And of course the things that could get us in trouble, which we weren’t planning on crossing the line of anyway. But that’s pretty much all it was. We met before the school year started [the editing staff and I] and we just went over everything. We went over our goals for the year and just made everything really clear. Our staff was just so on board that it was really, it wasn’t anything hard, it wasn’t anything like dreary. We didn’t feel like we were in trouble. It was a learning experience and it was a really good one.

Q: Why should students get involved with The Union Weekly?

A: Students should definitely get involved because we are just a fun group of people. We love pretty much what everyone can do on campus. And the thing we really appreciate, as I said before, is people that love what they do. And people that are passionate about getting that out there and getting what they’re doing out there. And that’s all we are too, we’re just people that love what we do and want to tell everyone about it. So if you’re passionate about anything and you want anything that you’re doing covered in a place that almost anyone on campus can read, we’re definitely the place to go to. I would just love to more people who love what they do in our office.


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