By Duane Paul Murphy
The Tower student newspaper at the Catholic University of America held editorial elections on February 25th to select the next editor-in-chief for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Staff writer Liz Friden, a junior politics major, was announced as the 124th editor-in-chief of the student-run publication.
“My initial reaction was shocked excitement,” Friden said. “This position is a dream come true. When I re-read the email that I got it, all of my ideas and goals I have written down came rushing through my head. They were no longer ideas and goals, they are plans.”
Before becoming editor-in-chief of the paper, Friden, who hails from upstate New York, was already involved a variety of extracurricular activities and internships on and off campus. These particular opportunities have included interning for Republican New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik on Capitol Hill, being a Fox News Channel associate in Washington, D.C., and becoming a member of Catholic’s Program Board organization and Student Philanthropy Council. She has indicated that she is willing to give up these responsibilities to dedicate herself to the time and effort that running a university publication demands.
In terms of her experience with The Tower, Friden began contributing as a staff writer her freshman year. She became much more involved with the publication’s operations during this academic year as a junior, writing more articles and helping with editing efforts. Friden has covered a variety of issues and events, including the Women’s March in D.C., Title IX policy changes at the university, and a speech that former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina gave last fall.
Something the excites Friden the most about the new position is the chance to hear different perspectives from all parts of the university community.
“I love listening to people,” Friden said. “I love hearing their side of the story because it is what they really believe and I think that is fascinating.”
As the next editor-in-chief of the paper, Friden wants to further enhance the publication more towards a digital platform.
“I want the future of the student newspaper to be online,” Friden said. “I want the news to show up in people’s inboxes. I want the news to be new, meaning I want it to be relevant. I want people to learn from it.”
Friden also wants the publication and its staff to be very detail-oriented in its work.
“I want us to be trained student journalists and to take pride in our work. When I was a freshman, I would read the paper and cringe when I saw grammar mistakes,” Friden said. “If one small detail is off in a story, how are you supposed to trust the accuracy of it?”
Many of Friden’s colleagues and coworkers on campus have shown strong support for her new position.
“I’m super proud to see that Liz is becoming the editor-in-chief,” said junior politics major Katie Hodgdon, a coworker of Friden’s at the university’s Office of Events and Conferences Services. “I have known her since our freshman year, and as her current co-worker, I am so proud and I know she will represent The Tower with grace and poise, carrying the legacy of strong editors.”
The publication’s editor-in-chief for the 2017-2018 academic school year, senior media and communication studies major Jimmy Cassidy, expressed optimism for Friden’s vision for the organization.
“I think Liz is a very driven person with a great passion to succeed in whatever she takes on,” Cassidy said. “With the right amount of dedication, she will do a great job as editor-in-chief.”
When asked about the year in charge, Cassidy noted some satisfaction, but a need for continued effort.
“Overall, I will take pride in the work our staff did this year. The analytics show the reader traffic has increased, and I feel that we had a slightly larger presence on campus with our work in print and digitally online,” Cassidy said. “It was a tight-knit group we had reporting on the news of the university, but there are still many ways we can improve to properly inform the readers in the community.”
The current editorial staff will round out the academic year with twenty-five editions published for the university community. Some notable stories that the publication has reported on include a mumps disease flare-up on campus, notable school curriculum changes, Puerto Rican students affected by Hurricane Maria, faculty layoffs, and the new dining hall.
As for the rest of the editors, junior Duane Paul Murphy will continue as op-ed editor for a second year, junior Alexander Santana will serve as news editor for a second year, Jared Prenda will also return as sports editor, and junior Katarina Ivancik will take over as arts and entertainment editor for the next school year. Current arts editor Daniela Sol and Cassidy will graduate in May, finishing their time at Catholic after a few years of work with The Tower. The managing editor, copy editor, and business manager positions still need to be filled. The student newspaper is in its 95th year of publication since 1923 after 36 years of the university’s founding in 1887.