Sarah-Mae McCullough will be the 2021-22 editor-in-chief of the Daily Emerald, starting in summer 2021.
McCullough is double majoring in journalism and planning, public policy and management. She began working for the Emerald her sophomore year as an arts and culture reporter, writing reviews on local artists and feature stories on mental health and social justice issues. This past year she was the editor of the arts and culture desk, where she implemented a peer editing program, restructured meetings for more community building time and established a clearer publication schedule.
“I've really loved being a desk editor more than I was expecting to. I love the process where you have all the information out, and it's just playing with language,” McCullough said. “But also, I'm getting to work with writers in a sort of mentoring role, and providing that guidance has been really enjoyable.”
The last woman editor in chief of the Emerald was Dahlia Bazzaz in 2015-16. McCullough said she did not even consider applying for the role until current Editor-in-Chief Ryan Nguyen encouraged her to go for it.
“I think that a lot of times when we don't consider opportunities, it's because we have some sort of unconscious bias about it,” McCullough said. “If we don't see people like us in a certain role, we aren't as likely to consider ourselves as viable options, even if we're just as qualified as anyone else who might go for the role.”
Nguyen said he is sad to leave his role as editor-in-chief, but he’s happy that he gets to leave it in the hands of someone as capable as McCullough.
“She's going to be really great as EiC — really reliable and able to push the newsroom into a new decade,” Nguyen said. “I'm really excited to see the work that she's going to be doing.”
McCullough’s current associate A&C editor Grace Murray said McCullough is the best person for the job because of her ability to approach everything in a calm nature.
“Sarah-Mae is one of the most reliable, organized and level-headed people I have ever met,” Murray said. “Every issue that has ever come up that I've had to deal with, I messaged her, and I know that it's going to a person who's going to approach it from an objective point of view.”
McCullough said she is looking forward to improving the student experience at the Emerald. She wants to increase staff training, develop a mentoring program between incoming and seasoned writers, hold open houses, expand multimedia content and incorporate editorial cartoons in the opinion section.
She also wants to continue to improve diversity at the Emerald by bringing a community and diversity reporter onto the news desk and building off of current managing editor Francis O’Leary’s idea of forming an ethics board.
“I'm really honored to take on the position and the Emerald provides such a unique source of coverage, telling stories that don't get covered anywhere else,” she said. “I'm very excited to be involved and continue contributing.”