Every fall, the Minnesota Daily reinvents itself as a new group of leaders take over the paper's Office of the Publisher. This year, that group includes President Justin Scott, Business Manager Melissa Lappin, and Editor-in-Chief Britt Johnsen.
Johnson, Scott, and Lappin all come to the Daily from different paths. Johnsen, an English major, always knew she wanted to work at the paper. "One reason I came to the U was the Daily," says Johnsen, who was initially warned about the competitiveness of working at the paper. Now, as EIC, she thrives on that atmosphere. "The paper has become my main focus-it's truly a full time job. But I love it," she says.
Lappin, a student in the Carlson School, found the Daily through an ad...in the Daily. "I saw an ad in the paper for marketing intern when I was a freshman," she says. "I heard good things about the Daily so I applied. I gradually moved up through the marketing department, and the rest is history."
Scott, who originally wanted to study acting at the U, changed his mind once he got his first job at the paper. "After I started working at the Daily I decided to major in advertising," says Scott, whose first position was in the linage department. "I kept picking up positions when they opened to keep learning, and I ended up here."
The three are friends as well as colleagues, and spend a good deal of time in conversation about the paper's direction and overall strategy. A hot topic of conversation this year: diversity in the paper's coverage and staff. "Diversity is an organization-wide goal, and content is a specific part of that goal," Johnsen says. "Our content should accurately reflect the community and I think readers have noticed that this year." To help the paper reach its diversity goals, the Daily has launched a multicultural advisory council, made up of members of the community who give the staff specific feedback and story ideas.
For his part, Scott is working on improving internal communication and participation in Daily programs, events, and training. "We're working to build a stronger community within the organization, and making training a top priority," he says. "We want to ensure that working at the Daily provides a thorough and comprehensive experience for students before they enter the professional world."
On the business end, Lappin is working to maintain the paper's fiscal health "Documenting progress" at the Daily by expanding the Daily's online sales capability and implementing new advertising software, which will help the paper better forecast sales revenue for budgeting purposes. "I would also like to continually develop our expense models and projections," says Lappin. "This will help the business manager and controller respond to large-scale revenue and expense changes more rapidly."
The three are well aware of the challenges that face every Office of the Publisher. "We only have one year in these positions and a lot to get done in one year," Johnsen says. She's hoping that by carefully documenting the progress that the paper makes this year--particularly in areas of diversity, financial health, and circulation--that the leaders that come after her, Lappin, and Scott will have a clearer idea of where they'll need to take the paper.
"I hope all our work pays off, and that the paper keeps building on the past," she says. "Documenting our progress is important, because a huge part of this job is to see the Daily's future."
Minnesota Daily Alumni Association Update
MDAA joins the UMAA: The Minnesota Daily Alumni Association has become the eighth Alumni Interest Group affiliated with the University of Minnesota Alumni Association (UMAA). All of the MDAA's scholarship efforts, alumni-staff event planning and communications received a huge boost with this alliance. Alumni Interest Groups (AIGs) connect UMAA members to campus departments and organizations in which they have a special interest. They also support the goals and objectives of the UMAA and help increase membership in the group and in the association. The MDAA interest group will now appear on appropriate University alumni mailings. Watch for more news on this awesome new partnership!
MDAA Alumni Recognition Scholarships: This fall marks the second consecutive year the Minnesota Daily Alumni Association awarded two $1,000 Alumni Recognition Scholarships to outstanding Daily employees. The 2005 Alumni Recognition Scholarship winners for the fall are Brian Mann in the Business category and Elizabeth Cook in the Editorial category. Congratulations to Brian and Elizabeth!
The Alumni Recognition Scholarship program began in 2004, with funding coming entirely from the SJMC. This year, the SJMC will match gifts to the MDAA scholarship endowment fund up to $4,000. Fund-raising is off to a great start: Desktop Publishing pioneer Paul Brainerd and his wife Debbi deserve a special thanks for kicking off the 2005-2006 year with a generous gift. Thanks to all of you for helping enhance the student-employee experience. Please visit www.mndaily.com/alumni for more information on this exciting scholarship program.
Meet new MDAA president Joe McKenzie: Joe McKenzie, a 2004 graduate of the Carlson School, is the new president of the MDAA. Joe brings great enthusiasm and business savvy to the alumni board. While a student, he served as the Daily's business manager, president, and board chairman. Currently, he is an analyst in the circulation department of the Pioneer Press.
Joe hasn't wasted any time making an immediate impact as alumni board president. So far, he has rewritten the MDAA's bylaws and standing rules, and as a result, the board has increased from nine to 15 directors. He has also defined a clearer mission for the association and the ruling board, with project ownership a primary theme.
Joe is the successor to Nick Doty (B.A. '99), who stepped down after threeplus years as MDAA president. Nick will continue serving on the Daily's alumni board as secretary and liaison between the MDAA and the University alumni associations. Nick is now in his sixth year on the board.
"When I started as president, my goal was to expand on what Nick has accomplished and develop new ways to better serve the Daily staff, alumni, and board," says Joe. "My challenge to our board members this year is to increase fund-raising tenfold, increase involvement with staff through mentoring, scholarships and events, increase our active alumni, and find new and creative ways to preserve and promote the Daily's rich history."
If you are interested in becoming an active member of the MDAA or board of directors, or if you'd like to receive MDAA communications, please email alumni@ mndaily.com or call (612) 627-4070.