Synapse is approaching its third year of publication, and next fall’s leadership will be its first without a founding member. I am humbled to be named its next editor. It is my hope to see this magazine assume a stable and defined space in UNC’s media landscape without sacrificing its innovative start-up nature. To do so, I seek a new level of cohesion in Synapse’s content by embracing collective narratives and further incorporating multimedia.
There is never just one voice or one story. Every newsroom in the country is saying this, but we have barely begun to scratch the potential for multimedia packages. I envision Synapse staff working in teams to create articles, videos and graphics connected by a single issue. These collective projects will live side-by-side with the same stand-alone longform Synapse has excelled at the past two years.
There is always more room for quality content. I invite anyone with an interest in longform and digital journalism to apply for our staff. I personally learned more from one semester on Synapse’s staff than I did in my first two years of college reporting. It is through our freedom to constantly try new things that we at Synapse learn, grow and thrive.
To Synapse readers old and new, I welcome you to join us in our exploration.
As Synapse approaches its third year of publication, I envision Synapse assuming a stable and defined space in UNC’s media landscape. I will emphasize consistency in the publication’s content and schedule while prioritizing multimedia storytelling. My goal is to ensure the magazine’s sustainability without sacrificing its innovative, start-up nature.
Introduce interactive projects
Synapse will create at least one interactive project per semester, each with multiple articles, videos and graphics connected by a single theme. Projects may investigate campus-related issues such as academic reform, as well as delve into city, state or national experiences.
Improve ratio of reporters to visual staff
Longform pieces are most engaging as story packages with a variety of multimedia content. I will focus on recruiting a greater number of designers, producers and photographers. Ideally, there should be equal numbers of all staff positions to facilitate teamwork — and no one position will be more valued than another.
Train junior staff who lack prior journalism experience
Reporters working on longform pieces should ideally have two years of prior reporting experience. However, I believe Synapse can also function a training ground for underclassmen interested in digital media. I will introduce a limited number of junior staff positions, specifically tailored for first-years and sophomores without any prior experience. Junior staff will develop their skills with shorter feature pieces, and they will be paired with more experienced mentors to facilitate staff bonding.
Host a fall staff retreat
As Synapse staff members, we are some of each other’s greatest resources, and the staff should have every opportunity to befriend each other. That will start with a fall retreat, potentially at Lake Jordan or another off-campus site. Returning staff members will be invited to share their tips and experiences. Yes, there will be icebreakers.
In addition to Synapse’s next managing editor, I will be looking to fill the following positions for the magazine’s 2015-16 leadership team:
Art Director – Responsible for maintaining the magazine’s aesthetic consistency and editing content by designers, producers and photographers
Publicity Director – Responsible for managing Synapse’s social media accounts, monitoring website traffic, planning promotional events and recruiting new staff
Business Manager – Responsible for leading fundraising efforts and brainstorming new ways to ensure the magazine’s financial future
Head Programmer – Responsible for coordinating interactive projects and troubleshooting the website
Reach audiences outside the Journalism School
Synapse has established itself within Carroll Hall, but the aspiration of digital platform is to transcend physical boundaries. Synapse will continue to publicize upcoming issues with flyers and social media, but greater effort will be directed towards the larger UNC community. Flyers should be posted in all high-traffic areas on campus. Professors, departments and organizations relevant to upcoming stories should be directly contacted through email or Twitter.
Seek audience feedback
Readers’ opinions are of upmost importance to me. A reader survey will be included at the end of every monthly issue, and greater feedback will be sought on social media.
Finish migration to Creativist
Last year, Synapse debuted a new website on the publishing platform Creativist. Not all of Synapse’s pieces published during its first year have been transferred to the Creativist website. Next year, Synapse will complete this migration and incorporate old articles into its present-day social media.
Follow a consistent publication schedule
Readers deserve to have a reasonable idea of what to expect in each month’s issue of Synapse and when. Next year, Synapse will prioritize its release at the same time every month. Each issue will continue to have three to five longform pieces and at least one graphic or photo story.
Encourage staff interaction — in person and online
Synapse should offer a community for students passionate about storytelling and digital media. First and foremost, I hope staff members will support each other in activities outside of Synapse and in their private lives. However, staff will also be encouraged to interact with both each other and the main Synapse accounts on social media.
Enforce rough draft, first draft and final draft deadlines
Reporters will submit a total of three drafts to the editors. The rough draft can be an incomplete story missing sources or interviews. The first draft should be treated as a finished product, and all of the sources originally brainstormed should have been interviewed. Between the first draft and final draft, follow-up interviews or additional sources may be encouraged.
If you're interested in applying to be on next year's staff, contact Amy Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.