For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Zach Gilchriest. I am a junior journalism major, and this coming school year I will be serving as editor for the Vision.
As I’ve started preparing for the upcoming school year, I’ve thought a lot about how I can best serve the Vision, how I can best serve my staff and, consequently — how my staff and I can best serve the student body. The Vision is a unique organization in that it exists more for the benefit of the student body than for its staff. Recognizing and remembering that is going to be an important part of how we operate in the coming year.
The Vision is also a small organization. Our staff consists of maybe a dozen full-time contributors, and we write for a school with only 8,000 students, maybe 50 of whom are journalism majors.
So when we arrived at the Southeast Journalism Conference at the University of Mississippi in February, we were — to put it lightly — a very small fish in a very large pond.
Seeing the JAAC-sized building dedicated entirely to Ole Miss’ journalism program, and seeing some of the competition we were up against should have been enough to make us tuck tail and run. Instead, we left Mississippi that weekend with the award for Best College Website, another for ranking second overall in onsite competition and another 14 for our onsite competition entries and our work from the previous year. In April, we took another three from the Tennessee Associated Press Awards.
Schools with newspapers and programs twice or even three times our size could not say the same.
What I’ve come to realize is that we’ve never let our size get in the way of us telling the important stories, telling the right stories or serving the student body the best way we know how.
We didn’t let our size stop us from telling the stories of two Belmont students, both survivors of rape and sexual assault. We didn’t let our size stop us from following every step of the new residence hall construction, or figuring out why registration crashed for two days in a row. We didn’t let our size keep us from having the best possible sports coverage, or hosting our own weekly, in-house concert series. To be honest, it just doesn’t enter into our thinking.
That being said, we have a lot of standards to live up to and a lot of challenges that we will undoubtedly face in the coming year. But we also have an excellent staff that I’m confident will rise to those challenges and raise those standards even higher.
Melissa Kriz will become managing editor. Melissa is the perfect person to take on this huge task with me, and her passion for the Vision will be a giant asset to both me and the rest of the staff.
Sara Scannell will return as arts & entertainment editor. Sara has more ideas than I know what to do with, and will be undoubtedly be an invaluable resource for managing one of the Vision’s largest sections.
Shelby Vandenbergh, after eagerly becoming host of our Bruin Blitz show, will be sports editor. Shelby has a drive that constantly pushes her to excel. She’s done an impressive job with Bruin Blitz, and I can’t wait to see what she does with her section.
Jason Saitta stepped in as audio manager toward the end of last year and has already proven himself to be an irreplaceable part of our team. Jason has expressed interest in producing even more audio content this year — a weekly audio blog and a gear video series are just a few of his ideas Audio Engineering majors should get excited for.
Aggie Smith and Hunter Morgan will return as video manager and photo editor, respectively. Both Aggie and Hunter have worked tirelessly to deliver possibly the most content to the site out of anyone on staff, and I’m so happy to have them both back for another year.
Bronte Lebo, Harrison Baldwin and Paris Lawson will be joining the staff after hopping on board at the end of last year. Bronte will serve as associate copy editor, Harrison will take on an SGA beat and Paris will help boost our sports content even more. The three of them are all fantastic additions to the team, and I’m so excited to see what they bring to the table.
And finally, I’m excited to welcome any new additions that might join the team this year. My first Vision meeting was in January of 2016, when I was still just a freshman music business major. Walking through those big, glass doors on an exceptionally chilly Monday morning, I had no idea what to expect. I couldn’t have expected the strong friendships that would eventually ensue, the hours and hours I’d sometimes joyously and sometimes stressfully spend in the office, or even the pain of getting bitten by a certain professor’s dog at a Vision staff party. My point is, I didn’t know what the Vision would eventually mean to me, and you might not either. If you think you might be interested, come to a meeting, or just stop in to the office for a conversation. The door is always open.
Our first meeting is Monday, Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. in Johnson 108. See you there.