In the loop
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Beatrice Shlansky / Senior Staff Photographer

As we approach the spring 2020 recruitment season for Spectator, Spectrum brings you a snapshot of each section’s mission statement and upcoming projects. We also asked representatives from each section for a few characteristics they’d like to see in applicants.

The following quotations are excerpts from interviews with Spectrum, slightly edited for content and clarity.


News: News Editor Valeria Escobar, CC ’22

- Its mission: “Institutions like Columbia are difficult to understand, but our news team is driven by what seems impossible. Hidden behind paper trails, email chains, and untold stories are the keys to explaining who/what is accountable for the inequalities that surround us. As investigative reporters, we have a commitment to the community to make sure their truth can be read, seen, or heard. In increasing the accessibility to our journalism, we have worked across sections to make sure people want to read our stories. ”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “For the reasons above, Columbia’s Manhattanville expansion has been at the forefront of our news coverage this semester. For the past few months, our team has been walking back and forth between West Harlem and Columbia administrators to report against the grain of what this community was promised—something that will remain a priority. We ask ourselves ‘What is the difference between what Columbia said it was going to do and what it is actually doing?’ The newsroom is a place where you are challenged to commit to the investigation while thinking creatively to ensure that we know what it means to occupy Harlem, which for years has been segregated from the resources Columbia boasts.”

- Characteristics News looks for in applicants: “We look for self-starters who can think critically about the university they attend and its relationship with the surrounding community.”

Want to see more? Check out the News homepage here!

Opinion: Editorial Page Editor Tamarah Wallace, CC ’22

- Its mission: “Opinion’s mission is to reflect and direct discourse. By reflecting we mean publishing the voices and views of people in the wider Columbia community, and we have the fortunate ability to directly present lesser-known issues to our readers. We’re also focused on the personal growth of our staffers. We not only make sure that whoever joins the team is getting the journalism skills they came to seek, but also how to think critically and speak to other people.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “Our video project is something that’s going to be super exciting! We’ve started an election series, we have our columnists set up, and we also have a new series called ‘A Hundred Words’ coming out. We’re flirting with a lot of different types of multimedia this season.”

- Characteristics Opinion looks for in applicants: “We’re looking for people who care about other people and care about having a fair discourse, people who really want to understand all sides of an issue and to make sure words are never obscured.”

Want to see more? Click here to see Opinion’s article on the “Sophomore year starter pack.”

Sports: Sports Editor Lizzie Karpen, BC ’22

- Its mission: “To hold accountable the Columbia athletics administration, which impacts so much of what happens at the University—ranging from admissions practices to fundraising strategies. We also strive to provide up-to-date athletics news to the greater Columbia community, highlighting the individual. We want to capture who one becomes in the act of trying.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “We have a Decade edition coming up that gives an in-depth look at the past 10 years of Columbia athletics. I’m looking forward to really expanding Spec Sports’ multimedia work, utilizing graphics, photo, video, and the written word to really capture the changes in the athletics department over the past decade.

- Characteristics Sports looks for in applicants: “We’re looking for someone who is passionate about sports, has a positive attitude, and wants to join our family”

Want to see more? Click here to read a feature about the men’s club ice hockey team’s fight for recognition.

Arts & Entertainment: Arts & Entertainment Editor Abby Rooney, CC ’22

- Its mission: “The mission of A&E is to hold the Columbia arts scene accountable for being the best it can be and inform the community about the resources that the University provides—or fails to provide—regarding the arts. We also show people why the arts matter on campus, even if they are not people who usually partake in the arts.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “We have a lot of profiles coming up that shine the spotlight on particular artists and groups. We are also looking to dive into analysis pieces and follow up on interesting storylines such as sustainability in fashion and covering the move of Bacchanal from Low to Terminal 5.”

- Characteristics A&E looks for in applicants: “We look for a passion for the arts, whatever that may be. It will help if you have some experience working in that area. We are also looking for people who are willing to chase down stories to get the necessary perspective, dig deep into the issue, and people who have a strong conviction for why the arts are super important.”

Want to see more? Click here to see A&E’s article on the death of fast fashion on Columbia’s campus.

The Eye: Managing Editor of the Eye Eve Washington, CC ’22

- Its mission: “To use narrative journalism and long-form storytelling to create human, nuanced stories, ones that reflect news and discourse on campus in an engaging way. We strive to contextualize news topics that discuss what it means to live and learn at Columbia and in West Harlem by using our reporting to slow down the fast-paced lifestyle of students on campus and to tell stories that will have an impact.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “We have an Arts Issue collaboration with A&E coming up that will combine our narrative journalism with comics, animations, and arts topics. The Ear, our podcast, also has a lot going on this semester with some cool archival reporting.”

- Characteristics The Eye looks for in applicants: “Some people say we are really quirky, but you don’t have to be! We’re all pretty nerdy, but generally, we look for people who like to talk about what’s happening and who are willing and excited to put in the effort to interview 20 different sources and write a 2,000-word essay for the sake of telling a critical and nuanced story.”

Want to see more? Click here to see The Eye’s story on Columbia’s Minecraft community.

Copy: Head Copy Editor Sarah Braka, SEAS ’22

- Its mission: “Our work is inherently tied to the mission of Spectator as a whole. We ensure the truthfulness, clarity, and eloquence of Spectator’s articles. We enhance Spec’s credibility and readability through three rounds of thorough reading and fact-checking. We are also invested in the growth of our staff; we try to work with every single copy editor to help each of them become a better writer and a better editor and to build a community in which they are supported.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “We’re working on expanding the range of pieces we edit, from articles to all written work under Spectator Publishing Company, especially social media posts.”

- Characteristics Copy looks for in applicants: “Passion and a firm belief in our mission. People who believe in the power of truth and facts, and who believe that accessibility is a priority of our newspaper. We especially like people with a careful eye and attention to detail, who not only see an individual component but how it plays a part in the big picture. Of equal importance is teamwork and community, so we’re looking for someone who will sit at the copy desk and put in a collaborative effort because what you put in is what you get out of the experience.”

Graphics: Graphics Editor Raeedah Wahid, BC ’22

- Its mission: “Our mission is to show, rather than just tell. We present stories through a combination of visuals and words that ultimately creates a powerful piece by engaging with people in a new way. We do so by designing creative stories that come from accessible data.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “Our News and Graphics collaborations, particularly stories like athletic recruitment—exploring the socioeconomic diversity of athletes—where there’s a lot of room and power in how we choose to visualize it. Our power lies in how we paint a picture of residents, businesses, and our students through those visuals and data.”

- Characteristics Graphics looks for in applicants: “We look for someone who cares about journalism, has an interest in data and its visualization (especially in making that data interactive), and has an excitement to tell stories.”

Want to see more? Click here to see Graphics’ analysis of student debt and earnings across several fields of study.

Illustrations: Illustrations Editor Helen Yang, CC ’22

- Its mission: “Our mission is to add a sense of personality in bringing out the motion of a piece beyond words on a page. We focus not only on beautiful or eye-catching artwork but also on pieces that convey a message.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “We are excited to produce more visual-heavy pieces with News and Sports, sections we have yet to work with frequently in the past.”

- Characteristics Illustrations looks for in applicants: “A big part of the job is working with writers from all different sections—so definitely empathy and good communication skills—and of course, a sense of curiosity and a willingness to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be imaginative and passionate about the issues and stories you care about.”

Want to see more? Click here to see an illustration.

Photo: Deputy Photo Editor for the Eye Amelia Milne, BC ’21

- Its mission: “To tell visual stories and to capture current moments on campus. We support written journalism in making Columbia’s memories long-lasting.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “The Bacchanal photo essay! We have front-row press passes, granting our photographers solid access and the opportunity to shoot some pretty big people. We are also planning some long-form photo projects.”

- Characteristics Photo looks for in applicants: “People who are dedicated to the power of visual journalism. Someone who is active and enthusiastic about getting more involved with events. Someone who is reliable, a self-starter; someone who thinks creatively.”

Want to see more? Click here to see the photo essay for climate justice.

Spectrum: Deputy Spectrum Editor Jazilah Salam, BC ’21

- Its mission: “We aim to serve as the “older sibling” or guide for students by producing coverage that ranges from informative advice for student life to comedic content that will bring readers a good laugh to make their experience in Columbia both more fun and easy. As we expand the work that we do, this semester we’re trying to focus on more engaging content by collaborating with Illustrations and our Business and Innovations division to make our articles unique and valuable.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “Some of our most exciting and far-reaching projects include the Shaft, which covers housing registration, and Required Reading, which reaches thousands of prospective and incoming students. We’re trying to expand on the breadth of our media, so we’re coming up with video content, including a series about the upcoming Democratic primaries and election periods, as well as producing more quizzes and interactive content.”

- Characteristics Spectrum looks for in staff members: “Someone empathetic who understands the needs of the Columbia community, and someone who is curious and is eager to produce collaborative content.”

Want to see more? Click here to see Spectrum’s love letter to Koronet’s!

Business and Innovations

Revenue: Revenue Director Sarah Peters, BC ’22

- Its mission: “The first part of our mission is to maintain Spectator’s financial independence and fund our work-study program through connecting our clients to the broader Columbia and Morningside Heights communities, providing mutually beneficial advertising to our clients and our reads. The second part is to develop our staff pre-professionally, as students and as people in general.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “The Food Expo is coming up soon! We will also be brainstorming and developing ways to diversify our revenue streams through events like career fairs and consulting case competitions.”

- Characteristics Revenue looks for in applicants: “A strong belief in Spectator’s mission, a desire to help our community and MoHi, a strong drive, and hustle.”

Product: Head of Product David Wang, CC ’22

- Its mission: “At Product, we create web and mobile apps—such as Vergil+ and the Shaft—to improve our audience’s Columbia and Barnard experience. We ask ourselves questions that a real-world product team would answer in ideating and brainstorming around the pressing needs of our community. This semester, the Product team is embarking on active user research and creating brand new products and services that will directly improve the pain points our audiences face.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “Making and updating the Shaft to better meet student needs and to make the journey of housing exploration easier for our students. Our goal is to give people up-to-date, minute-by-minute insider housing information.”

- Characteristics Product looks for in applicants: “People who are creative, innovative, and who are invested in helping our target audience and how to understand them better.”

Engineering: Head of Engineering Carl Dobrović, CC ’21

- Its mission: “Our goal is to enable the community to stay better informed through our engineering and design skillsets. For our staff, we utilize management structures in a way that lets them experience more projects and take ownership of their work. We enable engineers to create for Spectator, for our community, and for themselves, and we integrate everyone into an engineering culture.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “We’re looking forward to the launch of our updated website with new tech that gives a solid platform for current and future teams, and to make sure that our website competes with those of leading news publications.”

- Characteristics Engineering looks for in applicants: “We look for a willingness to learn, an eagerness to be a member of a team, and a proclivity to build and think about how things are put together.”

Engagement: Engagement Manager Maya Merchant, CC ’22

- Its mission: “We aim to understand and connect with Spec’s audience, either through marketing materials, like events or articles, or to understand how people are responding to our content. We have the opportunity to learn and exercise a lot of different organizational and analytical skills, and it is a great place to get a well-rounded sense of how Spectator works and be at the forefront of understanding what we do as a News publication.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “Two cool events are happening soon: the Seniors Explain event about study abroad and the Food Expo, which reach thousands of students annually.”

- Characteristics Engagement looks for in applicants: “Curiosity, organization, a willingness to step outside their comfort zone (since we train our staff in programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Google Analytics), and a sense of humor.”

Spectator Brand Studios: Spectator Brand Studios Manager Maria Avila-Franklin, CC ’21

- Its mission: “I’d say we’re versatile, a jack of all trades. We aim to produce creative content for our clients, functioning as the creative design medium between the Columbia community and local businesses. We do everything from marketing and producing content to product design.”

- Upcoming priorities/projects: “We’re trying to grow our clientele, as we’re the newest section of Spectator, and collaborate more with other Spectator sections, like Design and Revenue. We’re also currently redesigning our landing page!”

- Characteristics SBS looks for in applicants: “Creativity, collaborative mindset, marketing sense, and advertising skills.”

Want to see more? Check out SBS’s article “Bringing Your Own Flavors” here!

If you read something that resonated with you, don’t hesitate to RSVP to our open houses at! Open houses will be at Riverside Church (located at the intersection of 120th Street and Claremont Avenue) on Feb. 8 and 9.

Feb. 8: Journalism: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Business & Innovations: 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 9: Spec Tech: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Visual Journalism: 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Staff writer Jane Mok can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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