Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet Maroon Weekly's editor, Chris Shepperd

Maroon Weekly is a tab-sized publication that comes out weekly, distributed free around the Texas A&M campus and in Bryan-College Station; it began in 2004 and focuses on entertainment, music and reviews. Several A&M students from Agricultural Communications and Journalism are among its writers, and AGCJ master's student Chris Shepperd recently took over as editor for the upcoming school year.

Shepperd has plans to strengthen the weekly's local coverage and its web site, www.maroonweekly.com, and Maroon Weekly offers students a chance to pick up some money and build up clips with feedback and coaching.

How many writers do you have, and how much will they be writing -- does everyone file a story for each issue, one per week, or is it more or less than that?

The current staff consists of three editors including myself (editor in chief, managing editor, sports) and 20 staff writers. Most of the writers will file one story per issue. Some are a little busier than others and only write once every few issues.

We are also working on creating a lot of web-exclusive content. We haven't really focused on that in the past. We normally simply put our stories online and leave it at that. But we want to drive traffic to the site. So we will have some blogs, stories, exclusives that will be only on the website.

Please tell me, because I'm out of town and don't see the Weekly itself much, what you normally cover. I'm told there's usually a good amount of content about music/entertainment around town? Also, what should students know if they'd like to work for you: What are you looking for in writers, and how much would they get paid?

Our main drive is definitely entertainment, music, and reviews. Books, CDs, bands, movies....etc. We also try to cover sports from more of a human interest standpoint.

This semester we are going to have some new columns I am excited about: "Cheap and Easy" will be a low-budget cooking column; "CheapSkate" will be a column about repurposing old stuff; "Sojourner" (perhaps my fave) will be a column on discovering B-CS. There are so many unique things in the valley that nobody knows about. Historical and otherwise.

As far as work is concerned ... I am always open to talking to people about writing for the paper. The pay is per word for printed stories. $.05 a word. And flat rate for online content. It is definitely geared towards those looking to build their resume and portfolio.

One thing I am actively looking for right now is one more sports writer. NOT someone that wants to write about football and basketball [exclusively -- that is, to cover games regularly]. But someone that wants to write feature stories on athletes. ... I need someone to write personality profiles and features on athletes from ALL the sports. Including football and basketball.

How long do you want stories to run -- what does that five cents per word usually work out to?
Basically the stories vary in length dependent on the topic. For the sports features it might run 800-1000 words ... maybe a little more. So we are talking $40-$50. For reviews we are looking more at the 400-500 word count. So $20-$25.

Do you work with people, edit them, help 'em learn a little?
Absolutely work with people. That is one of my favorite parts of the job. I want to teach journalism when I graduate.

The learning experience is the best part of working at MW. If someone wants to grow, then that is what I am here for. I was the editor in chief of my junior college paper, staff writer, sports editor, managing editor and now editor of MW. So I have seen lots of different sides. Have also been the editor for a magazine our department publishes. So it is always a bonus when someone is doing this to get better and wants to grow. I am not trying to say I am a know-it-all; I am NOT. But I love to help people discover.