A Farewell to Editor-in-Chief Ross Kiefer


PC: EILY/The Carolinian 

Ross Kiefer

In all honesty, I came to The Carolinian completely by accident. I applied to the position of Arts & Entertainment Editor on the whim of a friend after learning the paper was struggling to fill the position.

The only reason I was even thought of for A&E Editor was because I had a reputation of going to house shows and knowing almost too much about indie bands. The paper was so desperate for someone that I skipped the interview process and got offered the job less than 24 hours after applying.

I wasn’t very adamant about print media at the time, as I had come to the Media Studies Department to work on my radio minor. Frankly, I was more focused on landing a position at WUAG than the student newspaper.

There was never really a moment in my college career where I considered myself a news junkie, or even read the work of notable journalists. This changed as I was thrust into an environment that I had absolutely no experience in. I had never written in the AP style, never overseen a small staff of volunteers or edited anyone’s writing and had certainly never handed out assignments on a weekly basis.

I remember in my first week of editing thought I was the worst writer in my own section. So I started reading every article I could find, which kickstarted my love for the Washington Post, something my staff knows all too much about.

The A&E Editor position pushed me out of my comfort zone constantly. Learning how to write about modern art and dance performances, especially coming in as a music major, was somewhat of a forceful way to expand my knowledge of the arts.

A defining moment was when I wrote about Willem de Kooning’s “Woman” during an exhibit at the Weatherspoon. I distinctly recall after staring at the work for about 20 minutes, being drawn in by de Kooning’s melding of color and his intentional abstraction of the female form. That was when I realized my love for modern art, but that I also love writing about it.

After becoming more accustomed to the workflow of the section I began to take pride as I saw my writing staff grow in size. Seeing more stories filter into my section felt almost therapeutic, and the quality of work was rising. Being able to see someone enter my section as a decent writer and over a semester become a powerful and impassioned arts reporter was like a drug to me.

Guiding a person to a sense of routine accomplishment and witnessing the sheer dedication they gave to a volunteer, unpaid position was perhaps the most satisfying thing about my position. I felt more like an overzealous art fan the majority of the time, it never really felt like a job.

Getting promoted to Editor-in-Chief presented something I didn’t really want to deal with: my sense of maturity. It was a struggle leaving my beloved A&E Editor gig, but I did recognize that being EIC would force me to think both creatively and fiscally.

Working as the head of a student newspaper at college without a journalism program very much tested my commitment to studying journalism, especially with the Daily Tar Heel only an hour down the road.

With only a handful of journalism classes offered at UNCG, I looked towards the Greensboro community to find mentors. Getting a first-hand account of the important role community journalists play at the local level and being able to see they create stories from what most would consider mundane was thrilling. Learning how to view the world from a narrative perspective is something I value more every day.

Proving myself as a manager became a personal crusade. Finding moments where tenderness and understanding sufficed when I wanted to be stern took a while. I remember for the first print of the fall semester I had to, very angrily, explain why to a staffer as to why running an advertisement on the front page was not only inappropriate, but journalistically unethical.

Coaching section editors on how to better grow and individualize their sections taught how people will manage to impress you with just a little bit of trust. It also taught me how to work with a coworker who refuses to listen to criticism, but it was still a rush every Wednesday morning when I picked up the paper off the kiosk rack.

What will be most dear to me while leaving this paper is learning how to be both a leader to my fellow students and student leaders. Having come to a position almost completely unqualified and turn it into a career I think is pretty good for something I consider an accident. And even though my degree will read “Music” on it, I’m definitely going to think of myself as a storyteller.  


Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized

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