Q&A with The COMmunicator’s Managing Editor Elizabeth Gleason

Photo Credit Qinjing Liao

Hailee: Why don’t we start off with a brief background on yourself? You are a Massachusetts native, I see, and studied in New England for your undergrad, correct?

Elizabeth: Yes, that’s right.

Hailee: So what led you to BU’s graduate program? 

Elizabeth: I did my undergraduate degree in history and political science at Providence College, and during the first few years of my time there I didn’t really know what I wanted to pursue as a career. I thought for a little bit I might go to law school. Then during my junior year, I studied abroad through BU in the London Internship Program. My internship there was with a PR firm called Grayling, specifically in its public affairs sector. I didn’t know much about PR before, so having that internship just opened my eyes to a whole new industry. I love current events, writing, research, and politics, so I really saw working in public and government relations as a perfect way to meld it all together. So, having that great experience with BU, I became really interested in their graduate programs—specifically their media science program, which is what I’m in now. I saw the program as a great opportunity to get more experience in communications, since I didn’t necessarily have a background in the field. I have the history and political science background from my undergrad, and now I’m learning more about the communications aspect here at BU. 

Hailee: Let’s go back to the beginning: you earned your B.A. from PC in history and political science but found your passion for political comms when you studied abroad. Was there a time before then that you knew you enjoyed mass communications or was this the first experience that opened your eyes to it?

Elizabeth: Not necessarily mass communications, but definitely writing. I’ve loved writing my whole life—English and history have always been my favorite subjects. When I was little, I used to write plays for my friends and I, and we would put them on in front of the class. In undergrad, I was the head copyeditor of Providence College’s student newspaper, The Cowl, and I loved that experience too. While I wasn’t doing the writing per se, it was very similar to what I’m doing now in the managing editor role at the COMmunicator. While I’ve always loved writing, I struggled at first to figure out how to integrate it into my career path. It wasn’t really until the BU program in London that I saw communications as a field that I could apply my interests to in a really cool way. 

Hailee: That’s awesome! It sounds like you were able to find the perfect intersection of your passions. So you are the managing editor of the COMmunicator. How long have you been in this position? I know you touched on one of your previous roles, but could you speak on any of your other past experiences that were similar to this?

Elizabeth: I have actually only been working as the managing editor since January, so I’m going on about three months now. Professor Clark introduced the idea to me in the fall and asked if I would be interested. I had heard of the COMmunicator before, but I hadn‘t really thought about my own involvement in it. But, after talking with Professor Clark and Lenna, who was the previous managing editor, I felt like it would be a great fit for me. Especially having worked as the head copy editor of The Cowl at Providence, I definitely felt more confident, as both roles involve looking over others’ work and managing tasks while helping to grow the overall publication. This role has more of a leadership component to it though, so that has been a really cool experience to work alongside Savannah. It’s definitely a big responsibility but it is rewarding at the same time.

Hailee: So going off of that, what exactly do your duties entail? What does your working schedule look like for you?

Elizabeth: Every week starts off with a meeting with Professor Clark and Savannah, where we go over the schedule for the week and address any problems that arise. Savannah and I also meet with the E-Board every other week, which consists of the multimedia director, newsletter editor, senior editors, and social media editors. Other than that, my main work involves reviewing student articles after the senior editors have looked over them and then publishing them to the website using WordPress. I didn’t actually have experience with WordPress before I took on this role, so I have to give a huge shoutout to Lenna for making the learning process really seamless. I also support Savannah in anything that comes up, whether it be sending emails, getting photos from people, or thinking up new content ideas. She is really the “head” of the publication but I support her in any way I can.

Hailee: In relation to your own path, how do you feel this position supports your education in BU’s media science graduate program?

Elizabeth: I would say, as I touched on before, being in a leadership role is something that I will carry with me. This role has really helped me to learn how to juggle different tasks at the same time, which is something I wasn’t necessarily used to before. You really need to stay organized and always be looking ahead. As far as hard skills go, learning WordPress is something I’m really grateful for because I know having that skill will be really valuable as the working world continues to become more digital. I’ve also been a TA for CM180 this past fall and now spring, and it’s definitely helped me in the leadership role I’m in now as the managing editor, as I’ve gotten more experience in working with different types of people, reviewing student work, and making sure students are on-track to be successful.

Hailee: It sounds like it’s a really nice supplement to the education that you’re getting through COM. What has been your favorite part of working on The COMmunicator and what are you most looking forward to as the semester comes to an end?

Elizabeth: I’d say so far, I love being able to spotlight different voices within the COM community. I love helping to develop the content and pick who we want to do stories on, and there is so much going on in COM that I wasn’t as aware of before. From study abroad opportunities to student-run events, I love being able to play a role in making sure we spread the word about those things. With Professor Clark retiring and Savannah ending her time as Editor-in-Chief, I’m also really excited to be part of building the next stage of the COMmunicator. I’ll essentially be the only one staying on in the fall as far as leadership goes because we will have a new faculty advisor and EIC. Professor Clark has been here a long time and has really helped to grow the COMMunicator, transforming it from a print publication to an online publication, so it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Hailee: What are the biggest challenges working as the managing editor?

Elizabeth: I feel pretty comfortable with the editing side of the job, especially after working as the head copy editor of The Cowl at Providence. I am grateful for that experience, but I would say something new that is a challenge for me in the managing editor role at the COMmunicator is making sure that all for-credit writers are on track to get their credits. The semester goes by much faster than you would think, so it’s largely my responsibility to make sure everybody is on track to complete at least three pieces and earn their credits.

Hailee: That definitely sounds like that can be tough especially on top of all your other tasks as a graduate student in general. With that in mind, as you continue through this program, what do you see yourself doing once you finish your degree?

Elizabeth: Every experience I’ve had since my internship with Grayling has confirmed for me that public relations and government relations is where I want to be. I’m really hoping to work for a firm or in-house for a company and do a mix of the two. I see that as such an amazing way to be able to make real change. At the internships I’ve had in the past, I saw my coworkers and supervisors play a major role in helping to get pieces of legislation passed and advocacy coalitions off the ground. It’s really cool to see your work come to fruition. 

Hailee: Alright, I’m going to wrap up with a fun question. I read in your bio that you enjoy baking. Rapid-fire: what is your favorite dessert?

Elizabeth: I love cupcakes. In terms of eating, my favorite is probably cookies, but I love to bake cupcakes and do cupcake art!

Hailee Hopkins, Staff Writer

Hailee Hopkins is currently a junior in the College of Communication studying public relations. She was born and raised in Massachusetts and loves the city of Boston. Hailee is beginning her position as an intern at Live Boston 617, and is excited about her second semester with The COMmunicator. Aside from school, she enjoys reading, fitness, and spending time with her two cats.

Audrey Ritchie, Senior Editor

Audrey Ritchie is a second-semester graduate student earning her Master of Science in public relations at BU. Ritchie graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in public relations and a minor in business in 2021. A life-long writer, she is excited to join the COMmunicator this semester.  In her free time, she loves reading, exploring Boston, and playing with her dog, Bear.

Qinjing Liao, Staff Photographer and Videographer

Qinjing Liao is from Chengdu, China, and a second-semester graduate student studying Marketing Communication Research at the College of Communication. She has a BS in Gemstones and Material Technology from the China University of Geosciences. She is currently a videographer for The COMmunicator, and she is also a diamond grader. Qinjing enjoys traveling, cooking, and collecting minerals in her free time. 

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