New Breeze and Breeze TV leaders look ahead to 2023-24

Media Arts and Design

by Meirra McChristian, staff writer


New leaders of the newspaper, online and TV staffs are Michael Russo, executive editor; Grant Johnson, editor-in-chief; Kayla Brown, TV news director; and Avery Goodstine, Breeze managing editor.  

The JMU Media Board announced the annual appointments of the executive editor, editor and news director after a competitive application and interview process. Russo, Brown and Johnson then hired Goodstine. All four are rising seniors.

Starting work before the end of the academic year allows the new leaders to transition while the outgoing leadership is available to assist. The new leaders also hire and train the incoming staffs for the 2023-24 academic year.

Brad Jenkins, The Breeze’s general manager, is a media board member, and when selecting the student media leaders each spring, he said he looks for students who have good leadership qualities and experience on The Breeze or Breeze TV staff.

Vision also matters, he said.

“I want to see how they want to build off the success of the past to be successful in the coming year,” Jenkins said. “And I think we got excellent and outstanding student leaders for next year.”

In the top leadership position, Russo will oversee both The Breeze and Breeze TV. He has been involved with the newspaper since his first year, when he wrote for the culture section.

“And now to be able to be executive editor and lead and grow with both parts of the organization I think is just a really exciting opportunity,” he said.

Johnson wants to increase the use of graphics and infographics and to increase readership of the print edition.

“At the end of my tenure, if more students are engaged with The Breeze content, then I will take that as a win,” he said.

As the new leader of Breeze TV, Brown said she was destined to apply for this position.

“From the moment I joined in September 2021, it’s been more than just a club for me,” she said. “The staff is my family, it’s my job, it’s my career. When the opportunity to apply for an editorial position arose, it was a no-brainer that this was what I was meant to do.”

As managing editor for The Breeze, Goodstine, a junior, wants to make the newspaper more interactive and to expand its coverage not only of Harrisonburg but also of nearby communities.

Effective media leaders also need interpersonal skills, Jenkins said.

“If you have a vision of where you want to go, your job as a leader is to get people there,” he said. “To get people there, you have to communicate with them where we are going and why we’re doing it.”

Russo agreed.

“When we're in the middle of production day and when we’re making the paper or making the (TV) show, communication is just so important and being kind to each other as well,” he said. “We want to make sure when the paper comes out, we have a great result that we are proud of.” 

Johnson said working on the student media is a big commitment, but empowering people means many members of the staff will contribute to its success.

Brown said she wants to open more TV staff positions for students in concentrations other than journalism. She also had advice for students who are thinking of applying to the editorial staff next year.

“Interviewing with the media board can be scary, but if you've worked hard and you’re passionate, it will show,” she said. “Come in with ideas and how you’ll implement those, and just share why you care about the organization you’re applying for.”

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Published: Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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