Alumni Newsletter

Mattingly: A farewell from the editor’s desk

Courtesy of Justin Mattingly

Justin Mattingly ('17), top left, poses with the rest of The Daily Orange Class of 2017 on the steps of 744 Ostrom the morning of commencement on May 14.

In March 2016, I attended the annual Society of American Baseball Research Analytics Conference, where a who’s who in baseball experts and executives had gathered . I was right in my element, but there was a void I couldn’t overcome — being away from The D.O.

I sat in my Phoenix hotel refreshing The Daily Orange’s ISSUU page. Every few seconds I’d highlight the URL and hit enter on my keyboard. I was managing editor and away from the paper on a production night. I couldn’t stand it.

That night, I realized I couldn’t imagine myself without The D.O. More than 2,000 miles away from 744 Ostrom Ave., I decided to apply for editor in chief. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

I approached the position with the goal of making The D.O. stable on both the financial and editorial side of the paper. To do that, it meant working closely with new general manager Mike Dooling and spending more time on the business side of the paper. Alexa Díaz, my successor, ran the editorial operations, allowing me to focus more on business projects.

That goal gained an unexpected urgency in June when Syracuse University released the draft of its Campus Framework, an infrastructure plan meant to guide the university for the next 20 years. A key part of the plan is increasing student housing on main campus, including a proposed dormitory on Ostrom Avenue where The D.O. resides. The demolition of The D.O. is not imminent, but we’ve begun looking into post-744 options after signing a three-year lease to stay at The D.O.’s beloved home.

Going into the fall semester, our goal was to increase advertising sales while making it more stable. We accomplished that goal — advertising increased by more than 15 percent year over year through improved client relations and a new bulk selling approach.

Fundraising still plays a major role in The D.O.’s financial success. We set an aggressive $19,100 fundraising goal after raising more than $20,000 last year. Thanks to 171 donors — including many who donated multiple times — we exceeded our goal 12 days early.

Included in the $19,245 we raised is the more than $700 alumni quickly put together to fund a D.O. Sports trip to Seattle for a one-on-one interview with former SU head coach designate Mike Hopkins, who abruptly left the university to take the head coaching job at the University of Washington.

But alumni involvement with The D.O. continues to go well beyond fundraising. More than 50 alumni serve as D.O. mentors, an important part of this learning institution. Alumni help give feedback and edit stories for staffers. This year’s D.O. Palooza had 51 attendees, which helped energize the staff to continue to pursue excellence.

Much of the alumni work is now done through The Daily Orange Alumni Association, which underwent a revamp last year and now The D.O.A.A. Board of Directors is pursuing 501(c)(3) status to make the association a nonprofit. I encourage you to get involved with The D.O.A.A. by emailing alumni@dailyorange.com. It’s what I’ll still be doing as a member of The D.O.A.A. Board.

The alumni association is an important part of The D.O.’s future. It ensures a legitimate alumni presence, an alumni voice in important decisions and, ultimately, a new fundraising model. Paired with a newly created strategic plan to guide us into the next 10 years, The D.O.’s future is promising.

A six-person committee, with representation from The D.O.A.A., led the creation of the strategic planning process. Much is unknown about the future of newspapers. We didn’t try to craft a year-by-year plan. Instead we evaluated where The D.O. was and where it can go. From there, we created five central goals, which can be found here.

The plan, which was approved at The D.O. Board of Directors’ May meeting, was a year in the making and is intended as a compass for future management teams and major decisions. It touches on expanding our digital advertising sales and moving to a more digital-based workflow while still utilizing the print product.

An editor in chief’s job is to protect the longevity of the paper. And sitting in the management office on the last night of production, I thought back to that night in Phoenix and what had passed since then. We covered a historic election, broke news of a federal investigation into SU and covered Jim Boeheim’s 1,000th* win.

And now, with The D.O. in the hands of Alexa, I hope this strategic plan helps future staffs do the same and more.

Justin Mattingly (’17) was the editor in chief and former managing editor and news editor of The Daily Orange. He served as president of the Board of Directors. Please feel free to contact him at jmattingly306@gmail.com and on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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