Spring semester of 2021 has brought many challenges, but for The Gonzaga Bulletin editor-in-chief, Spencer Brown, it is an opportunity to lead the paper into the next chapter.
His journey to being editor-in-chief started in the biology department his freshman year and he quickly transitioned into his home of journalism, where he continues his learning.
The Gonzaga Bulletin (GB): Why did you choose journalism?
Spencer Brown (SB): Originally I came in as a biology major which a lot of people don't know. I watched a lot of "Grey’s Anatomy" and thought, ‘this would be so amazing to do.' I quickly realized within the first week, that I could not do that. We had a quiz the first week in our chemistry class and I had already missed four assignments, did not study for that quiz and then [the professor] said ‘we are going to take a quiz.' I left the class and went to my advisor and said I was going to have to drop the class.
My mom was a journalist. She worked for magazines and newspapers in Arizona. I grew up listening to all these cool stories of her and she would go to weird places and interview people and it was just really inspiring. I know I always liked writing and I wanted to do something with that.
GB: Why did you join the Bulletin and why did you want to be editor-in-chief?
SB: I joined the Bulletin fall freshman year and wanted to get experience. This is a great way to do that and the community of the Bulletin is really close so I really wanted to be a part of that.
I didn’t know I wanted to be editor-in-chief for a really long time because I loved writing. I was like, ‘I'll never be a section editor’ and then I loved being the arts & entertainment (A&E) editor. There was a lot of me resisting the next thing. I think it was watching Riley Utley, Morgan Scheerer, Arcelia Martin and all the other editors. They are all really great and inspiring in their own way and I want to do that for other people.
GB: What are your goals for the semester?
SB: I think one goal in itself is to keep it the way it has been last semester because Riley did such a good job and it was such a big task to make it all online and change the way we do everything. We had been resisting to go online and now I want to take it a step further and get even more online content.
I would love to get more podcasts, and add unique student voices. One thing I really want to add into the training is how writers can harness their own voices because it is easy to just talk about facts, but in A&E or opinion I’d love to see more individuality and for writers to have fun with it.
GB: What is the biggest challenge you've faced on the job?
SB: I think the biggest thing is trying to get everyone together and really make sure we are on the same page. I really want to make writers feel welcome and ready to take a story and feel energized to do it. That can be hard when we are all on Zoom.
GB: Most rewarding experience?
SB: There are two parts to this. It’s really a unique job to sit down with someone for 15 minutes and talk to them about something random and you get to learn about a lot of different things which is really cool. It’s never boring and you get to be the cool person in the friend group who’s like, ‘oh, actually we should go here for dinner because I interviewed the owner yesterday.'
Then it is kind of the vain thing when people come up to me like, ‘oh, I read this really cool article you wrote. I love what you had to say, it really stuck with me.' It’s really awesome to know people care what you think sometimes.
GB: What is your favorite story and section to write for?
SB: My favorite section is A&E or opinion. I have a hard time writing news because I have a lot to say about things and that’s not easy. My favorite story I think was about the night market in Kendall Yards. It was wild to just stand in the sun 6 feet away from people talking about their business. It is interesting to learn about how people innovate. I love local business stuff, so I am completely here for it.
GB: What is your dream job/goals after graduation?
SB: I am kind of a person who doesn't like to think ahead which is not great, but you know, I think that I did this in college and I am doing it now because it is a habit at this point. I try not to focus on ‘What will I do? Who will I be?’ because I think it is more fun to not to know and see where you end up. I would love to continue writing as a journalist. I would love to be an entertainment writer, just writing about shows and reviews. I’d like to go into publishing, a wild career space in general, but I'd love to help and pitch stories for people to write and help them write a novel.
GB: Where would you like to live?
SB: I would love to go to New York, it just seems like a fun place to live, especially in your 20s. I am really down for whoever wants me wherever. I could go to Seattle or San Francisco. I would love to live in a big city again.
GB: Can you give me a rundown of the process in which you write articles?
SB: First of all I need an aesthetic space. Gotta light a candle and play some music. I need a clean desk — no random notes or anything. The only thing I have is a giant document of quotes and I usually get a coffee and then I just copy and paste quotes in the order I want the story to flow. Then I fill in the gaps with whatever I have to say.
GB: Go-to music and song for writing?
SB: Changes all the time because I am always listening to new music, but I would say it’s always something fast paced for when I am trying to make a deadline. A lot of pop or electronic music. If I have more time then it is slow indie rock.
GB: What are some of your hobbies outside of the Bulletin?
SB: I love thrift shopping. I love buying clothes or furniture and then making stuff out of it. I also love a good record store or anything that is cool and artsy. Anything creative really. I write a lot in my off time. I write short stories and scripts for random movie ideas I have. I am so into them and my mind just works in dialogues which is why I think I do the quote thing when I write an article.
GB: What is your favorite movie?
SB: I love Rom-Coms. I think my favorite movie is anything by Nora Ephron, like "You’ve Got Mail" or "When Harry Met Sally," just because they are so well written and it is fun to just listen to the dialogue. Rom-Coms always just boost a mood.
GB: What advice do you have for future Bulletin staff?
SB: Don’t be afraid of it. When you are a freshman going into writing or interviewing don't be afraid to talk to people. People love to talk about themselves. Don’t be afraid to take a story that you are not comfortable with — see where it takes you. The things you don’t think you will like, you are going to love. Weird stories that I was forced to take, they are now my favorite stories. Be open to learning because that is what journalism is: learning forever.