This semester, the Bagpipe is welcoming additions to its staff and publication. With Liz Simakoff as its new Editor-in-Chief, through more focused attention to its presence online, and by reaching out to new writers, the Bagpipe is finding better ways to keep the paper relevant to the student body.
One of the most noticeable additions to the Bagpipe is its new website, which is hosted by Squarespace and designed by Megan Walter. Walter worked with Layout Editor Gabby Powell to make the website feel like a natural extension of the printed edition of the paper. Simakoff describes the platform as “streamlined—attractive, but simple.”
Megan is a Junior History major who has studied graphic design in high school and at Covenant. She is filling a new position as the Bagpipe’s Web Designer, which includes responsibilities previously held by the Layout Editor. Megan is also in charge of the Bagpipe’s social media advertising, such as its Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
Publishing online in addition to print is intended to increase readership among faculty, off-campus students, and alumni, as well as create a more tangible and accessible record of the writers’ work with the paper. Alongside this is increased accountability to a high standard of quality. The project represents one of Simakoff’s major goals for the paper this semester: “that our writers would grow in confidence and relevancy in the ways their writing serves the Covenant community.”
Liz Simakoff is a Senior Economics major who has experience as a writer for the Bagpipe and served as Copy Editor last semester. Stephanie Taylor has been hired as the new Copy Editor of the Bagpipe, to fill in Simakoff’s previous position.
One of Simakoff’s first actions as Editor-in-Chief was to ask the staff themselves what they would like to see changed, in order to improve past frustrations and build on the paper’s pre-existing strengths. “Generic praise isn’t really praise… [and] critique isn’t always negative,” says Simakoff. “Since we had a staff who were enthusiastic…, who consistently did their work and did it well last semester… we can do a little more now.”
Simakoff sees a direct connection between the paper’s relevancy and its diversity of student voices. Overseen by a faculty advisor, but not managed by Covenant administration, the Bagpipe has always been a newspaper representative of and written for the student body.
“I want people to know that their ideas, and what they’re seeing, is legitimate,” says Simakoff.
To encourage this greater range of writers, the Bagpipe is hosting a Spring Writer’s Conference, slated for Jan. 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The seminar will feature a crash course in journalism, as well as the Bagpipe’s mission statement and a revamped weekly production schedule. It will include handouts for writing in a newspaper context and breakout groups led by each of the paper’s section editors. Simakoff hopes that this conference will not only build the rhetorical skills of the paper’s writers, but will make the Bagpipe more accessible as a whole for writers throughout the student body.
Simakoff admits that her plans for the new year are “ambitious,” but to her, the job is a matter of stewardship. She explains that this year’s staff follows in the footsteps of Bagpipe editors and writers from years past. With the hiring of Spring staff while retaining most of the staff from the Fall, Simakoff has taken the opportunity to reaffirm the Bagpipe’s purpose, increase transparency, and more clearly define the team’s day to day responsibilities.
“It’s much easier to rise above expectations if you know what they are,” says Simakoff.
“When I played basketball,” Simakoff says, comparing the transition to a halftime, “we would always do better in our second half.”
Interested writers may submit articles to the Bagpipe by emailing the Section editors, listed on Page 3. The new Bagpipe website can be visited at bagpipeonline.com.