Wellness Section Editor for The Daily

A mock-up of the Wellness section page from Autumn 2016 - this section included a feature on the UW Study Abroad Office and the bimonthly column "Common College," which focused on health conditions that commonly impacted college students.

I worked as the Wellness section editor of The Daily of the University of Washington from Autumn 2015 to Autumn 2016. When I took over, this section of the paper had only existed for one quarter, so I was tasked with determining a tone for the section and establishing it as a place that students could find relevant information about holistic well-being and quality of life.

the details:

Location: The Daily of the University of Washington, the school newspaper!

Duration: Sept. 2015 - Dec. 2016

Role: Wellness Section editor of The Daily

Skills developed: Editing content, setting a precedent for a new content section, providing feedback on writing

As a reporter:

  • Wrote 80+ articles focused on diversity, culture, and empowerment of underrepresented minorities and community groups. Conducted 150+ in-person interviews with students, faculty, and staff across departments and chose quotes for the final article.

  • Pitch and write multimedia features that are revised based on feedback from editors, sources, videographers and other writers.

As a section editor:

  • Created a tone and reputation for the Wellness section by establishing relationships with health-related registered student organizations, researchers, professors, and resources across the UW campus.

  • Delegated content to respective writers, collaborated on articles via Google Docs, conducted weekly meetings, and pitched articles for the weekly print paper and online version.

  • Communicated with section writers about relevant events and article pitches. Delegated content about UW research related to holistic health and well-being, recent research pertinent to health, and relevant and and useful resources for college students
  • Planned and edited content in a deadline-driven environment, and responded to email queries in a professional and timely manner.

Supporting holistic well-being: Working as an editor for the Wellness section

Working at The Daily as a reporter was definitely the launching point for my career as a writer, but transitioning to the role of the Wellness section editor taught me about how to take on the role of a creative problem solver, but also a leader that others could look up to.

When I started as editor, this section had only existed for one quarter, so I was tasked with curating and setting the tone for the content (plot twist, this was my chance to create something out of nothing!). I encouraged my writers to create content that focused on quality of life and holistic health behind physical health, and include source-based content that leveraged the knowledge of experts we have on campus ranging from researchers and clinicians to professors in psychology, environmental health, and bioengineering. I also strived the create personal connections with my writers so they would feel comfortable reaching out to me to get feedback.

My goal was to create a section that:

1. encouraged conversation about mental health, counseling resources, quality of life, particularly for college students.

2. leveraged the expertise of researchers, health professionals and other resources at the University of Washington

3. Offered specific resources at the University of Washington that students could use to follow-up or get more information about a wellness topic.

Leveraging the community:

To keep up with relevant topics in health and wellness, I consistently read the headlines from UW Today, Health Sciences Newsbeat, the New Yorker, the Whole U, and any other news source that celebrated recent research and findings at UW or in the wider community. I also attended meetings of other sections and spread the news far and wide about our section and managed to secure a list of loyal writers who responded to my pitches and came up with their own ideas that explored intersections of mental and emotional health with other areas of life like social media, nutrition, and education.

Seeing “Aleenah Ansari Wellness Editor” in the paper every week was one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career, and I was proud to be part of the movement to contribute to a campus-wide conversation about health and wellness that was informed by student input and research in the community.

Moments in Journalism when I knew I was in the right field:

These moments occurred in a variety of contexts, but they all come back to seeing people respond to my work.

  1. I turned the corner of the LSAMP Office and saw the back of a newspaper page with a photo of a girl in a red dress performing on stage articles – when I checked the other side, I realized that one of my articles was displayed on the wall of in an adviser’s office – I had covered the Filipino American Student Association’s Culture Night, and this article has been up in their office since 2015. It was a reminder that print journalism can serve as a reminder of people’s roots, and everyone deserves to be represented in the stories they read.
  2. Dr. Michael Gale, who was named one of the 25 most influential researchers at UW, told me that my article was the best coverage of his research in the last 15 years, and he had worked with a variety of publications from the Seattle Times to the New York Times. The last line of the email read, “The Daily is lucky to have you.”

  3. When I got my first front page article. I was covering the FIUTS CulturalFest Performance Showcase, which celebrated a diverse range of student performers on campus. This was my first event coverage ever and to check the print paper the next day and see “By Aleenah Ansari The Daily” and a familiar photo on the front page always sends a sense of elation through me. I’ve covered this event every single year since, and I work hard to earn front page every time while elevating the content with each iteration.

  4. When I walked into the newsroom for the first time and the editor-in-chief look at me and said, “You’re Aleenah? Great articles!” I swear, all of the self-doubt dissipated for a single moment, just knowing that the leader of our newspaper valued my work, especially as someone who was new to journalism at the time. It was a reminder that I could be confident in my skills and that people valued my work.

Working as an editor was an incredible confidence building experience that reminded me that I can lead from the front. I strived to be a peer who supported writers in navigating the challenges of finding sources, identifying an angle for their story, or looking for more interviews.