In a semester unlike any other, the Back Bay Publishing Company Board of Directors who govern The Daly Free Press met via Zoom every Monday night to discuss all things FreeP related. From weekly editorial board updates, to discussions of new ideas to passion projects that turned into Board-wide ventures, we want to inform our readers of everything the Board of Directors worked on this fall.
Meetings kicked off back in June, with our 13 student members embarking on what would be the Board’s first full semester on Zoom. We began with conversations around how we all wanted the Board to be a resource for editors and writers in this strange time, in addition to our normal duties of planning events and managing operations.
At a later meeting in August, we took our first step toward being this resource by forming five committees: career development, diversity and inclusion, recruitment, fundraising and style guides. Each committee was led by a Board member who was passionate and knowledgeable in that area of focus and work in each area continued throughout the semester.
We also talked in depth about what Boston University’s hybrid return to campus would mean for the paper’s operation. Foremost, we felt it was important to establish rules around the use of our office amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We agreed to limit capacity to no more than three people and work to make Zoom the main form of collaboration — for the Board of Directors and e-board alike. As such, the office was reserved for editors to use only in the case of extenuating circumstances, and was never used by more than one person at a time.
While the transition to Zoom wasn’t ideal for Board members and editors, the task of recruiting new writers was perhaps more challenging. With a committee of Board members tasked to handle recruitment efforts, we began thinking of new ways to draw in potential writers, photographers and columnists virtually. From participating in the University’s online Splash and holding our own open-house sessions, to posting open positions on our Instagram, we were able to recruit and retain a sizable staff for each section.
Additionally, we made changes to our style guide to ensure our writing better represents the community we cover. The guide now makes a distinction between referring to people as Latino/Latina/Latinx and Hispanic, capitalizes the “B” in “Black” in reference to race and, importantly, reminds writers that a person’s race and ethnicity should only be used when relevant.
In nearly every meeting, we made sure to discuss our ongoing efforts to prioritize diversity and inclusion within The Daily Free Press. We are looking forward to welcoming a new Diversity and Inclusion Chair onto our Board next semester, who will prioritize diversifying our newsroom and supporting editors and writers of all backgrounds and experiences.
Since the summer, we also have worked toward building a stipend program for our editors. We recognize that dedicating up to 50 hours per week at a student newspaper may not be feasible for BU students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, who may also have to work during the semester. This stipend, though still in discussions, will hopefully offer some financial relief to editors and make our newsroom more accessible.
We’re hopeful about the prospect of launching the project, and look forward to the continued support we have received from the BU and Daily Free Press communities.
One of Board’s most important and routine tasks is interviewing all prospective associate editors and editors. Throughout the month of November, we interviewed more than 30 candidates and made selections for next semester’s editorial board. We could not be more excited to see what these incoming editors will do during their time at the FreeP.
As we reflect on the work we have done this semester, we’re hopeful that we can continue thinking, reflecting and working to give our readers and contributors the best experience possible.