Student Spotlight: TNL Executive Editor Ashley Snyder

by Kathleen McCoy  |   


TNL executive editor Ashley Snyder (Photo by Tim Brown/TNL)

B.A. JPC '15; Honors College Hometown: Adopted Anchorage Fun Fact: Kung fu artist; loves halibut fishing

Ashley Snyder wasn't even in college yet when she set her sights on UAA's The Northern Light.

Her Navy dad completed a tour of duty at Elmendorf Air Force Base, which introduced Ashley to Alaska while she was still in high school. She finished two and a half years at Bartlett before a transfer took the family to Maryland, where she joined her high school newspaper staff and finished up the last of her four years.

Although she was far away from Alaska, her heart was still here.

"Before I even came to college, I was on the TNL website," she said. "I was like, 'I am going to be on this staff. I can't even apply to college yet, I'm not even registered for classes yet, but I WILL BE on this staff!'"

Her family didn't share her affection for Alaska, but Ashley made the trek back happily. "It's such a beautiful place, winter and summer," she said. No, she doesn't like the cold, but yes, she likes to fish!

Building confidence

Despite all her high school writing experience and her determination to join the college news staff, she was still a little shy when the moment arrived. "I was too afraid to be an actual editor, so I applied to be the web editor. I really wanted to be a solid member of the staff."

One thing led to another, and before you know it, she was reporting and writing, then working as features editor, and even had a short stint as managing editor. All of which made her feel that when the executive editor position came open, she could say yes: "I know how it goes, I know what's going on, I feel confident enough to move up."

Her summer days right now are spent recruiting new staff. Ready for the line up?

"We're looking for a news editor, a web editor, a multimedia editor, an arts and entertainment editor".... Oh, a managing editor and a few assistant editors thrown in, too. But she's not worried. Lots of the popular columnists are returning, her fabulous features editor Nita Mauigoa is returning, and the paper is even adding a new column, local fashion updates by Ruddy Abam, "Something more girly and fun, but she'll also write about fashion for guys."

Big anniversary year

Ashley said she's especially proud to be executive editor the year that TNL celebrates 25 years of publication. The staff plans a special edition of the paper focusing on their own journalistic history, achievements and efforts, but also more on the changing state of journalism as it continues transitioning from legacy to new media. Watch for some special anniversary T-shirts and slick new promotional mugs that feature their logo re-do.

Mixing it up with KRUA

TNL plans to reach out to its kindred media brethren at KRUA. Already KRUA music manager Oliver Petraitis is writing music reviews for the paper. Ashley would like some TNL staff to head into KRUA studios and contribute to the station's Friday news report, and invite KRUA staffers into the newsroom to contribute and learn how a newspaper gets "put to bed."

While summer is a busy time for recruitment, it's also when Ashley hopes to do some of the traveling for her journalism capstone project - a look at how media transformations have affected reporters in television and newspaper newsrooms across Alaska. She was awarded research dollars from the Office of Undergraduate Research to finance some of her travels, and she'll be crunching her newsroom survey results and interviews this fall for a hoped-for December due date on her thesis.

Add 16 credits (she always has to make room for Kung Fu), up to 36 hours a week at the newspaper, and her own life, and you're talking one busy executive editor. But she's confident that with a full staff, she'll rarely need all those newsroom hours once she has a smoothly humming news machine.

Given her exposure to a tumultuous decade of ever-shrinking newsrooms, is she still considering journalism for a career?

Of course! Her favorite Journalism and Public Communications class was television news production, and she'd be thrilled with the chance to pursue that in Alaska. On the other hand, "If I get a call from a newspaper Outside, I'm going to take that job," she said. And, given her track record, that's a good bet.


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