Confessions of a student newspaper editor

Kerri Keefe is usually the one giving the interviews. But for once the Echo editor sits on the other side of the table and discusses her time at the student newspaper and what the future will hold.

Keefe has been a part of the Echo team since her freshman days as at UCA. ?From my first day here, I knew I wanted to do journalism. When I first started, there were a handful of people who got me involved. They were so excited, I got hooked from there,? Keefe said.

Keefe first started at the Echo as a reporter, then worked her way up to assistant news editor, news editor, co-associate editor and finally, this semester, editor-in-chief.

After eight semesters on staff, Keefe has figured out a thing or two about the news business. Keefe said, ?I know what every section needs to have in order to get an issue out, but at the same time, I am continually learning something new.?

She has instituted one big change this semester as the new editor?enforced deadlines. While Keefe is strict about getting stories in on time, it has saved the staff from a lot of sleepless nights.

In the past, the night before the new issue was due to the printer, staffers would at times work on the paper until five or six in the morning.

Making writers get stories in ahead of schedule is working. Keefe said, ?We have already completely made our first two deadlines. We have been out by midnight both times.?

?Other editors have attempted to do this before, but it has never worked this well,? Keefe said. What?s her secret? ?I guess I?m a little more strict.?

Actually, she gives a majority of the credit to her staff members. She said, ?We have a great group of dedicated people. I know I can count on them for anything. They are the reason why we are meeting our deadlines now.?

Although Keefe has spent a great deal of time working on the Echo in the past, she says that she had no idea how much harder it could be. ?It?s so different this semester. Our first week back, I worked 50 hours,? Keefe said.

Now Keefe?s schedule has evened out to about 20 to 30 hours a week, so it?s a little more manageable. She said, ?The semester has been really great so far. It?s nice to stay behind the paper instead of reporting all of the time. Now I get to see the big picture of the paper instead of just the individual parts I saw before.?

As editor-in-chief, Keefe aims to add more Focus sections, which look in depth at specific topics, to the Echo this semester. She also hopes to eventually put out a 20-page issue. ?The 16-page paper is pretty standard. I don?t know the last time a 20-page issue was done,? she said.

In addition to spending her time at the Echo, Keefe has also been busy thinking about her future because she graduates in May. ?I have no idea what kind of job I want to go get in May. It seems like there are so many options out there, I?m having a hard time deciding on one,? she said.

Keefe spent last summer getting more job experience as a marketing intern in the recruiting department at Axiom. ?The atmosphere was really different from the Echo. It?s nice to get a change in scenery,? she said.

Keefe also interned at Little Rock Monthly during the summer. ?I did a lot of writing, editing and a lot of the stuff I do at the Echo. Working there was a really great experience,? she said.

For now, she thinks she?ll stay in the area at whatever job she decides on after the semester is over. After a while, she may go out of state to pursue a master?s degree in writing, journalism or business.

One of the things she will miss the most after graduation will be her staff. ?They have been the best. They?re crazy about the paper,? she said.

Keefe says, ?The Echo has given me the best experience I could ever ask for. I can?t imagine not being here anymore.?

-Jessica Saylor