This is the first interview in Newsroom Leader’s Student Media series.
As editor-in-chief of the student newspaper at the University of Texas, the Daily Texan, Riley Brands is in charge of a staff of more than 200. It’s an awesome responsibility, but one that Brands seems to take in stride.
Brands, a senior majoring in linguistics, served internships with The Washington Post and Devex. He plans to move to New York after graduation, but is not certain what his future in the Big Apple will provide.
Brands reveals a few of his experiences and accomplishments as leader of the Daily Texan:
NL:What was the biggest issue your staff covered while you have been editor-in-chief?
RB: Without a doubt the Fiji fraternity party that was reported to be “border patrol-themed.” It got picked up by news outlets around the world and caused our site to crash several times.
NL:What have you accomplished since being named leader of your student paper?
RB: I've increased fundraising as a form of revenue, helping to establish an annual pledge drive for Texas Student Media, which oversees the Texan.
I've also made the paper more diverse in terms of the opinions and perspectives it represents. Our following on all social media platforms has grown. I helped ensure that promised transitional funding from the university president's office would come through. I've revived our editorial board's blog, which after years of disuse is now updated with blog posts and editorial cartoons every day.
I've increased the paper's visibility on campus by hosting more events. I'd like to think I've gotten people thinking about the importance of our website, even if it's not where we'd like it to be structurally, currently. And finally, I've stood up for the paper when it needed defending.
NL:What was the most difficult situation you came across while serving as editor-in-chief?
RB: It's hard to pick just one. Leading such a large group of young (and mostly very fiery) people presents all sorts of challenges. I've found the key is just always to remain calm but never let up when a point or decision needs to be made.