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Behind the Scenes: The Michigan Daily

Six LSWA alumni share their experience in various roles working for The Michigan Daily.

Enjoy these Q&As.

Dana Pierangeli: Arts Community Culture Beat Editor

How long have you been connected with The Michigan DailyI applied for The Michigan Daily before I even arrived at school and was hired in August. Since then, I’ve taken on many different roles: I was first an opinion columnist, then I really found my stride in the arts section and moved from arts writer and then beat editor. I’ve been with the Daily ever since. 

What is your favorite aspect of being the Daily Arts Community Culture Beat Editor? I love being able to help my writers get across exactly what they want to say. Everyone I work with is intelligent and talented, and I love being able to hear what they have to say and help them get their words published. 

What is the most challenging aspect? Journalists have a lot of responsibility when writing. I am always thinking about how my words can affect the most positive change, which is sometimes difficult to do. I have to be careful and considerate with what I publish, and often have to deal with backlash from people who don’t agree with what I am writing. It’s rewarding but taxing at times. 

Did LSWA impact your involvement with The Michigan Daily? Being surrounded by artists, as you are in the LSWA community, influences the way you think and write, especially when you’re writing about the arts. My LSWA friends introduced me to new events and art forms that gave me more variety in the events I reported on. 

Did your involvement with The Michigan Daily impact your LSWA experience? My experiences at the Daily have made me a more knowledgeable and well-rounded person, and that has influenced every aspect of my life, including my LSWA experience. It gave me new viewpoints I brought to my classes and discussions with my friends. Being involved in the LSWA community and being surrounded by artists I knew I wanted to apply to the Daily when I chose Michigan. 

Since you already shared that you started working for The Michigan Daily before coming to campus, could you share how you got hired/connected before arriving as a freshman? At freshman orientation, I saw the Daily booth at one of the activities and added myself to an interest form. That’s how I got updates about applications and was able to apply the summer before school started. 

Do you have any advice for future Lloyd Scholars and deciding on what extracurriculars/communities/student orgs to join? Choose a few orgs you’re really passionate about and really dedicate yourself to them. In my experience, working with orgs are where I found a purpose. And don’t just choose orgs you think will advance your career, choose some that you just like to do. You won’t have another opportunity like this again, so take advantage of it.

Do you have advice on how to become part of The Michigan DailyReach out to us! Any student on the Daily is happy to give you advice, answer questions, and help you with your app. As far as the application, show us your passion in the questionnaire and show us your talent in the sample articles. Read some articles from the section you’re applying to so that you understand the nuances and types of articles. Each section is different and has its own format.

What is one question you think I should have asked you? And how would you answer it? What is the most valuable thing I’ve learned from the Daily? The arts are so important to enacting significant social change, and we need to use our gifts to create the change we want to see. Use your voice to speak out on what is important to you.

Sabriya Imami: Arts Writer for the Film Beat

How long have you been connected with The Michigan Daily? I’ve known about The Michigan Daily for a long time, so as soon as I became a U of M student, I knew that I had to apply. I’ve been writing for the Daily since about last November, so almost a full year now!

What is your official role/title? What is your favorite aspect of being in that position? My official title is a Daily Arts Writer for the Film beat. I love the creativity that comes with being a part of the Arts section. Just being around the other Arts writers always makes me feel so inspired.

What is the most challenging aspect? Since I’m a Film writer, the most challenging aspect recently has been finding films to review since movie theaters have been closed. However, that’s just required us to get creative once more when it comes to writing articles. A lot of the articles that we wrote at the end of last semester, during the summer, and at the beginning of this semester have been more personal responses to movies as opposed to reviews. That’s been really fun because it gives me the opportunity to reflect on movies in a way that means more to me.

Did LSWA impact your involvement with The Michigan Daily? LSWA did impact my involvement with The Michigan Daily because being around the creative minds in LSWA has really changed my perspective on a lot of things, movies included. Therefore, just being a member of the LSWA community has caused my thinking, and my writing, to evolve.

Did your involvement with The Michigan Daily impact your LSWA experience? My involvement with The Michigan Daily also affected my LSWA experience because it gave me the opportunity to bring new knowledge and perspectives to share with my fellow LSWA community members and classmates. I’ve learned so much with the Daily, and I’ve been doing my best to share what I’ve learned with those in LSWA.

Do you have any advice for future Lloyd Scholars and deciding on what extracurriculars/communities/student orgs to join? The best advice that I can give to future Lloyd Scholars regarding extracurriculars/student orgs is to find a good balance between things that you know you like and things that are new to you. You always want to keep your roots in mind, which is why it’s important to do things that you’re used to and like. That’s what the Daily is for me: I wrote for my high school paper and loved it, so I knew I had to write for the Daily. However, I also wanted to go out of my comfort zone a little too. College is the time to try new things. I joined a workout club last year just because it was something that was really out of my comfort zone. You need to find organizations that contribute to both of those aspects so that you can grow in the best way possible.

Do you have advice on how to become part of The Michigan DailyIf you want to become a part of The Michigan Daily, you can apply at almost any time! Applications are on the website, and you can always come to me with questions too! :)

What is one question you think I should have asked you? And how would you answer it? Another thing to ask: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while being a member of the Daily? Answer: The University of Michigan has so, so many people in it, and the Daily is a microcosm of that. And because there are so many different kinds of people (majors, races, religions, etc.), you’re inevitably going to learn something new from every single person you meet. The Daily is the place to go if you want to meet new, accepting people. Everyone’s so genuinely kind, and they want to help you.

Ray Ajemian: Opinion Columnist and Copy Editor

How long have you been connected with The Michigan DailyI’ve been at The Michigan Daily since my first semester at U-M (which, admittedly, isn’t that long ago). I started as a copy editor in Fall 2019 after going to a mass meeting for TMD. It was through the Copy section that I found out Opinion was hiring for Winter 2020, and I’m currently working as a columnist for Spring/Summer.

What is your favorite aspect of being an opinion columnist and a copy editor? What is the most challenging aspect? If I’m being honest, my favorite aspect of writing a column is being published. I’ve been writing all my life, but seeing something I wrote in newsprint was a first for me. I’m still not quite used to it. Writing for publication is a much different process than what I’m used to, and it involves a lot of feedback and careful thought, but that makes it even more gratifying. That is also the most challenging part; it can be really frustrating to toe the line between retaining your voice and making those changes. Nobody likes to be told they’re saying the “wrong thing” in their opinion column.The best part of copy editing is how it has helped me with my own writing. I’ve gotten good at noticing the little things in grammar and being deliberate in word choice. And I like to think that knowing what my fellow editors will be looking for while I write makes their job easier as well. The most challenging part is just how much you have to look for when editing. Copy fine-tunes articles according to a 66-page guide that tells us the exact way to format every building or title at the University, which common terms are capitalized, which forms or spelling of words to use when there are multiple (ex: among, never amongst) and so on. Fact-checking everything in news and opinion articles can also be time-consuming, even with sources provided by the author.

Did LSWA impact your involvement with The Michigan Daily? LSWA made me more confident sharing my writing because I was doing it so often. There was a lot of peer review in the LSWA first-year writing class I took with Carol, there was collaboration and sharing in Creative Writing Club, and the Arts & Literary Journal submissions and Caldwell poetry competition more or less forced me to offer up my writing to a critical eye. It’s possible I would not have applied to be a columnist if LSWA hadn’t been desensitizing me to others reading my work.

Did your involvement with The Michigan Daily impact your LSWA experience? It certainly helped me grow as a writer, and writing is why I joined LSWA. Even before I joined as a columnist, I was learning a lot from looking at so many others’ writing as an editor. Given all the peer review I’ve had to do in LSWA, formal or otherwise, I’d say being a copy editor at TMD has helped that.

Do you have any advice for future Lloyd Scholars and deciding on what extracurriculars/communities/student orgs to join? The first challenge is finding the organizations you’re interested in. I highly recommend looking through the Maize Pages as early as possible; once you’re on campus, go to Festifall and/or Northfest to learn more about those groups and when they’re meeting. The second challenge is picking which organizations to spend your limited time at. For LSWA students specifically, you may want to avoid extracurriculars that are similar to the LSWA activities you’ll be doing. If you’re in a poetry club here, for instance, you probably don’t need to join another poetry club. Other than that, I would suggest prioritizing groups related to your major and the parts of your identity or interests most important to you; this is the best way to find like-minded people and spend your free time somewhere you enjoy.

Do you have advice on how to become part of The Michigan DailyAbsolutely go to a mass meeting. They’re designed specifically for newcomers. So much goes on in the newsroom that it’s hard to keep track of it all, and the mass meetings are the best way to learn the ins and outs, both of the individual sections of The Michigan Daily and the paper as a whole.

What is one question you think I should have asked you? And how would you answer it? Are your membership to LSWA and your job at The Michigan Daily related to each other? Definitely. I joined both to make myself a better writer, and they’ve both helped me do that. I know the appeal of LSWA for a lot of students is that it keeps them in touch with interests outside their major, but for me it’s the exact opposite. I saw LSWA as a way to stay immersed in creative writing even when I might not be taking a writing class, as will be the case this fall. Similarly, The Michigan Daily was an opportunity to write and edit professionally for the first time. The main way to get better at writing, at least when you’re starting out, is to write often, so I take every chance I get to force myself to write regularly.

Reid Diamond: Opinion Columnist

How long have you been connected with The Michigan Daily? When I first came to Michigan I knew I wanted to join The Michigan Daily so I started just by going to weekly editboard meetings. Then in my first semester of sophomore year I joined the paper as a columnist.

What is your official role/title? What is your favorite aspect of being in that position? At The Michigan Daily, I work as an opinion columnist. I write bi-weekly opinion pieces about environmental policy from an economic perspective. I personally find this subject matter interesting and of extreme importance, so I enjoy researching and writing about it for the paper. I also really enjoy the weekly editboard meetings where all the opinion columnists get together and discuss a hot topic in the present political climate.  

What is the most challenging aspect? The most challenging aspect for me is infusing informative writing with genuine personality so the reader feels connected and interested in the topic. It's difficult to develop a consistent voice in writing, and I continue to always work at that.  

Did LSWA impact your involvement with The Michigan DailyLSWA didn't explicitly encourage me to join The Michigan Daily, but I learned to become a better writer which has undoubtedly helped me in all of my academic endeavors. My LSWA English class helped me to develop voice and personality in my writing (thanks Mr. McDaniel!) and that gave me a lot of confidence to put my writing out for others.

Do you have any advice for future Lloyd Scholars and deciding on what extracurriculars/communities/student orgs to join? Working for the opinion section of The Michigan Daily is a great avenue for showcasing, and further improving, your writing. For anyone who has any interest in politics, or if you have any unique personal insight on anything in your personal life or the world around you, the opinion section can be for you. There are also the other sections (news, sports and art) that are really great too.

Do you have advice on how to become part of The Michigan Daily? If you're not sure whether or not to join The Michigan Daily, you should look into the weekly editboard meetings. They're a very low commitment way of getting familiar with the paper and meeting some of the editors and opinion writers. You can test out the waters by writing, or helping to write, one of the weekly editorials for the paper (shameless plug for editboard).

Emma Mati: Assistant Photo Editor

How long have you been connected with The Michigan Daily? I joined The Michigan Daily as a staff photographer during the fall of my freshman year. I applied to be an assistant photo editor at the end of that semester, and I stepped into that role during the winter of my freshman year.

What is your favorite aspect of being an assistant photo editor? One of my favorite aspects of being an assistant photo editor, and being a part of photostaff in general, is venturing out into the field and photographing different types of events. Photographing for The Michigan Daily has allowed me to see U of M and Ann Arbor in a whole new light by engaging with a diverse array of people and learning about issues that would have never crossed my radar. Doing so has allowed me to appreciate all the university has to offer. I have sat courtside at the Crisler Center photographing basketball games; I have stood on the roof of Ann Arbor's Fire Station Six capturing the installation of solar panels; and I even found myself at the groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Michigan's $920-million-dollar hospital. In February, I photographed Vice President Mike Pence at a rally he held in Troy, Michigan. I would not have had these experiences if it weren't for The Michigan Daily.  

What is the most challenging aspect? The most challenging aspect of my job is choosing a photo that is both appealing to the eye and, at the same time, accurately depicting the event that is being reported. My job as an assistant photo editor is to assign the staff photographers who work on my dayside to cover different events happening on-and-off campus. And while I cover events myself, more often than not I am in the newsroom selecting and editing photos to run alongside news articles. Since I can't physically be at the event, I don't always know what exactly happened. Sometimes, the lens doesn't capture everything. In these sorts of cases, I have to work to find ways to compensate for that, whether by editing the photo itself or by writing an informative caption to accompany it. Photos have the ability to convey intense feelings and emotions. In other words, photos are the face of the newspaper. I try to do my part in reporting news that tells the truth.

Did LSWA impact your involvement with The Michigan Daily?/Did your involvement with The Michigan Daily impact your LSWA experience? LSWA taught me the importance of having a creative outlet in college. It is easy to get swept up in the grind of academics, and I decided early on in my college career that I wouldn't let grades define me. LSWA provided me with an environment to cultivate my ideas and allow me to develop both as a person and a student. I was inspired to find other communities on campus that would allow me to do the same, and I found that at The Michigan Daily

Do you have any advice for future Lloyd Scholars and deciding on what extracurriculars/communities/student orgs to join? My advice for future Lloyd Scholars is to not be afraid to try something new, and don't be afraid to try it a few times. Before joining photostaff, I didn't really have much in the way of photojournalism experience. I went to a small high school, and at the time, we didn't have a newspaper. I only took up photography relatively recently when I lived and travelled abroad during my post-high school gap-year. If you are interested in a student org, go to a mass meeting, meet some of the people who are involved, and apply to join. There are so many student orgs at Michigan, and it might take some time to discover the ones that really speak to you. Don't worry if you don't find your place right away. Take your time to explore all that the university has to offer. 

Do you have advice on how to become part of The Michigan Daily? At the beginning of each semester, The Michigan Daily holds a series of mass meetings where you can learn about the newspaper and different ways to get involved. I would definitely start there. That way you can get a feel for the different sections and learn what exactly each one is looking for.   

What is one question you think I should have asked you? And how would you answer it? What is the most underrated event you have covered for The Michigan Daily? So far, the most underrated event I have covered for The Michigan Daily was a lecture on the history of the University Hospital given by Professor of Medical History Dr. Joel Howell. According to Dr. Howell, the University of Michigan Hospital was the first university-owned and operated hospital in the U.S. Even though Alice Lloyd is located right next to the hospital, I never had a reason to go inside or interact with anyone who worked there. Dr. Howell's lecture was fascinating, and I actually learned a lot that day.

Eileen Kelly: Illustrator for Statement

How long have you been connected with The Michigan Daily? I started illustrating at the beginning of September, so for around a month.

What is your official role/title? What is your favorite aspect of being in that position? I'm an illustrator for Statement, which is the Wednesday magazine/insert section. I really enjoy illustrating for Statement because the pieces printed are very narrative, which lends itself well to illustration. There's also a very wide variety of topics being written on, which is fun when it comes to creating unique pieces to go along with them each week.

What is the most challenging aspect? There are tight deadlines for illustrations, which is challenging in a positive way, I think—it means that usually, I do a series of rough thumbnail sketches to send to the section editor and then create one finished piece. It also means that I need to be able to make edits to illustrations quickly if the originals aren't exactly what the editor wants, and I think this method of working has helped me (and will continue to help me) work more decisively and be able to communicate ideas clearly and quickly.

Did LSWA impact your involvement with The Michigan Daily? Yes! During my freshman year, I took Carol Tell's Children's Literature class, and as part of my final project for that class, I illustrated a children's book. While children's book illustration is a little different from editorial illustration, I realized while taking this class that I wanted to continue illustrating, and that led me to several personal projects over the summer and eventually to illustration for the Daily.

Did your involvement with The Michigan Daily impact your LSWA experience? Illustrating, in general, is what led me to co-lead Zine Club this year as a Student Assistant, and I think working on the Daily will continue to help me improve my illustration skills as well as give me an experience working on a team for a publication (something that I learned that I really enjoyed as a member of the Arts & Literary Journal Club in LSWA last year, actually!) 

Do you have any advice for future Lloyd Scholars and deciding on what extracurriculars/communities/student orgs to join? Be open to new opportunities! Think about the things you're interested in when you look for organizations to join, but also consider what skills you would like to learn. Even outside of class, college is all about learning new things!

Do you have advice on how to become part of The Michigan DailyThere are mass meetings for the Daily at the beginning of every semester, but you can check open job postings any time here: http://join.michigandaily.us/ For illustration specifically, you need to submit a portfolio, and before applying it might be a good idea to try your hand at editorial illustration to see how you like it if you haven't tried it before, maybe by experimenting by creating pieces that go along with essays or articles you've read or have found in magazines or the internet.

What is one question you think I should have asked you? And how would you answer it? Who/what are some of your inspirations as an illustrator? I really love simple illustrations that use a lot of color and imperfect lines to create a playful look. One of my favorite editorial illustrators is Julia Rothman, who does pieces for The New York Times and The New Yorker as well as other publications, and she also has illustrated several children's books. Other illustrators that I love are Sha'an d'Anthes, Kristen Barnhart, Maggie Cole, and Michaela Coffield—I really love how all of these illustrators use a hand-drawn look and a lot of texture in their work!

More information about The Michigan Daily can be found online. 

All photos courtesy of the students.

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Release Date: 10/09/2020
Tags: Lloyd Scholars for Writing and the Arts