Caitlyn Nelson

This year has not gone how any of us planned. 

I was super thankful to get an unconventional staff under my inexperienced leadership to run The Doane Owl this past year. I had no idea I would be Editor in Chief until a little over a year ago. I had no idea I would run a pretty successful newspaper, that COVID-19 would happen and that the newspaper would turn around into a successful online publication. 

As today is my last day as Editor in Chief, I wanted to share with the Doane community a few things about this staff that may have gotten overlooked as you read the paper, questioned our articles and silently, or not so silently, critiqued our work. 

This year’s staff was comprised of non-journalists who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. None had ever been editors, worked for the paper or had a clue what AP style was. Almost none had any journalism writing experience.

This staff typically worked from 4 p.m. on Tuesday nights until 3 or 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning. They put so many hours into writing, editing and design pages to put out each week. We also put out more papers than previous years in the time we were able to print. When I asked my staff to put out the first paper a week earlier than in past years, they were ready and eager to put it out. When I asked them to put out a paper following a break, they had stories in and ready to go. 

Some nights, we didn’t have enough stories to fill a paper so they had to find them on the fly. I think that’s one thing I respect so much about my staff. They were effective. Some of our best stories were stories written during Owl night, but were done timely and correct. 

This staff transitioned from Sunday night (sometimes Tuesday night) deadlines once a week during the normal school year to almost every day getting stories in when we went fully online after the announcement we could not go back to the “beloved” journalism lab to work. 

Up to date, we have posted 104 articles to Doaneline since the announcement of changes on March 12. To put this in perspective, our normal paper runs around 17 stories a week. We are almost keeping up with what we would a whole paper, but online. 

As a staff this year, we won 12 awards at the Golden Leaf Awards in Chadron, which were just sent to us due to COVID-19. We also won the ROAR Award for the organization that made the biggest impact on campus this past year, which we have never won before. 

I could not be more proud of this staff and the work they put in. While some nights they may have hated me for pushing them as hard as I did, they always worked hard to make sure their work was quality. 

I wanted to say thank you to the Doane community for working with us so well this year to cover all the stories we did. Thank you to Professor David Swartzlander, who is retiring this year, for being a great mentor to me and my staffers. Most of all thank you to my staffers for making The Doane Owl turn out so well this year. 

I am very confident in the Doane Student Media leadership in the upcoming year and am very excited to watch the growth from the staff and the news they report, but this time from the sidelines. 


Caitlyn Nelson

The Doane Owl 2019-20 Editor in Chief