Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Leadership Joins Driftwood

New leadership joins Driftwood, the student-run weekly at the University of New Orleans, with plans to transform the look, feel and content of the newspaper. This week, the woman at the helm unveiled her vision.

"There are going to be a lot of changes in the Driftwood," said the newspaper's new editor-in-chief Christy Lorio, 34. "It's going to be a completely different paper."

The Driftwood, a student newspaper supported by student fees, now falls under the direction of the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. The nearly 50-year-old newspaper has a new professional advisor and a new editor-in-chief, as well as new board members. And new leadership has recruited a wide variety of new talent to serve as editorial staff for the 2014-2015 academic year.

"I'm really excited about this. We've got a really great editor," said Vickie Kennedy, the Driftwood's new advisor. "And we're looking to make a lot of changes."

New Editor, Big Plans

Christy LorioChristy Lorio, 34 is the
Driftwood's new editor-in-chief.

Christy Lorio plans to bring this "in-the-field experience" to the UNO student newspaper, adding more investigative reporting, more coverage of local issues, more campus event coverage and more campus-wide news, she said.

For the past five years, the Driftwood's new editor-in-chief has worked as a freelance writer in New Orleans. In 2009, she founded Slow Southern Style.com, an online blog billed as "a love letter to Southern Style written by a native New Orleanian." Since then, Lorio has seen her work published in Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, Oxford American.org, Go NOLA.com, New Orleans Bride Magazine, Edible New Orleans and Uptown Messenger.com.

She learned a lot on the job, she said, detailing her vision.

Lorio said she is expanding this year's masthead to include more transfer students, international students and students from a wide range of academic backgrounds, including sciences and engineering.

"It's going to bring some much needed diversity to the paper," she said. "I think we're going to be able to really showcase the different backgrounds we have at UNO."

Lorio, a New Orleans native, attended UNO from 1999 to 2003 then returned as a senior in spring 2013. She expects to graduate in fall 2015 with two bachelor degrees—one in English and one in Film and Theater. After graduation, she aims to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at the University.

Readers can prepare for a new "professional, polished look" to the newspaper, she said. And she's still hiring.

"We're seeking out students with an interest in photography, students with an interest in design to use their talents — we're starting with pretty much all new writers as well," said Lorio.

New Advisor

Kennedy EditorVickie Kennedy is the new Driftwood's adviser.

Helping out and providing guidance is Driftwood's new advisor, Vickie Kennedy.

Kennedy is "an alumna of the University and veteran educator, who returns to UNO with years of experience coaching writers and advising publications," according to her Driftwood bio. For 26 of her 34 years teaching in Jefferson Parish classrooms, Kennedy advised publications and taught "every English course on the books."

Yet, it's as a journalism instructor and newspaper advisor that she says she made her mark.

Since 1974, Kennedy's students have won hundreds of individual writing awards, as well as awards for layout and design, photography, graphics and cartooning, she said in her bio. Kennedy created the curriculum used to teach three levels of journalism courses in Jefferson Parish high schools.

Under her direction, Grace King High School's student newspaper Irish Eyes won Best Newspaper Awards at the national, state, and local levels and consistently earned first-place ratings from the Quill and Scroll Journalism Honor Society, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and the Louisiana Scholastic Press Association, the Driftwood reported.

Kennedy, who matriculated from Loyola University New Orleans, earned a Master of Education degree at UNO. She retired from Jefferson Parish School System in 2008 and since then has mentored new teachers, coached writers and edited copy for a public relations firm, according to the Driftwood.

"She is really ambitious and she and I have a shared vision for the paper, and I'm really excited to be working with her," said Lorio. "We've had several meetings since we've both come on .... We'll definitely be prepared."

Coming Soon

New staff are currently working on a special "O-Fest" issue for New Student Orientation, which begins in mid-June, Lorio said.

"The orientation issue is going to be less of a newspaper, it's going to be more magazine-style," promised Driftwood's new editor-in-chief. "More of, like, a city guide for the students: places to go, late night eats, urgent care, medical clinics. It will really give them a way to get around the city, make them comfortable."

The O-Fest issue will be geared toward incoming freshmen, transfer students, international students and older continuing education students, Lorio said. She's also planning on putting out an issue of Driftwood the first week in August to welcome new and old students to school.

"We're definitely looking to up the quality of the photography, graphic design," said Lorio. "And just really trying to look at covering UNO as a community and the student body and (to) keep in mind that UNO is such a diverse community," she said.

"We'd like to see as many students as possible, versus a select few."


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