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Sullivan poised to be next DI editor

BY MADISON BENNETT | MARCH 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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Adam B Sullivan has worked in nearly every area of The Daily Iowan newsroom — next year, he’ll get the chance to lead it.

Sullivan said that experience will help him bring together various sections of the newsroom when he takes over as the 2011-12 editor-in-chief in June.

“I think that it gives me a good idea how different sections in the newsroom work together,” the 21-year-old journalism major said. “It’s easier to manage people if I know what they’ve been through.

Since starting at the DI on a scholarship his freshman year, Sullivan has worked as a Metro reporter, video editor, Opinions editor, convergence editor, Metro editor, and Daily Iowan TV news director.
Sullivan was selected unanimously Monday by the board of Student Publications Inc., which oversees the DI.

As he prepares to start his 12-month term, Sullivan said his unique array of journalistic experiences will help him reach his goal of renewing the DI’s commitment to public-affairs reporting and its basic watchdog functions.

DI Publisher Bill Casey praised Sullivan’s dedication.

“I’ve worked with him for three years, and every job we’ve given him — even if they were jobs he really didn’t want — he’s thrown himself into it,” Casey said.

Vanessa Shelton, the head of the SPI board, said Sullivan’s experience with TV and multimedia made him an ideal candidate for the job.

And Casey said the selection committee hopes he will continue to improve those facets of the DI.

“Based on past experience, he’s going to do a great job for us,” Casey said.

Those experiences started early. The City High graduate fought a censorship battle as the editor of his high-school newspaper, The Little Hawk. The staff published a controversial story about racism that ultimately resulted in the edition being pulled from the school hallways.

“It really showed me that people do react to things you write in the newspaper,” Sullivan said. “It kind of taught me to be really careful about the responsibility you have to your readership.”

“Watchdog” journalism is also a responsibility to readers, he said, defining it as “anything that keeps the government and businesses honest.” Though the DI will still write feature stories, he said he will focus more on covering local and state governments as well as businesses.

“Not that it wasn’t already there,” Sullivan said. “But to expand and ensure that it’s a top priority.”

To accomplish this goal he aims to help editors and reporters understand why watchdog writing is so important, as well as the implications of the topics they cover. Sullivan also said he wants to make sure writers aren’t intimidated by certain issues.

“If you’re a journalist and you make a policymaker uncomfortable, you’re doing a pretty good job, I think,” he said.

In addition to being editor of his high-school newspaper and yearbook, Sullivan has worked for the Iowa Independent, an online news organization, and freelanced for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Quill and Scroll Magazine, Playboy U, Little Village, and the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism.

He is working for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and KCRG this semester.

Sullivan will replace the current editor, Brian Stewart, who has worked at the DI in various positions since 2007.

Sullivan was the only applicant for the position, making the discussion “short and sweet,” Shelton said.

“We always say if you only have one candidate, you might as well have a good one,” Casey said. “And we had a great one.”


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