First digital director learns tools of trade

Hayley Fick

Editor’s Note: Hayley Fick was appointed as The Daily Texan’s first digital director, a new position created to guide The Daily Texan in reaching beyond the range of its news boxes and creating an interactive, supplemental and share-worthy experience for readers online through our website and various social media outlets. Fick is a sophomore public relations major and has previously held the positions of senior web staff and associate web editor.

In digital media there are more questions than answers. There are no maps or compasses and very few precedents. I have to rely heavily on my own judgment and often times write the rule book as I go.

It’s very much like the feeling I get when I’m driving in the middle of the night. When the city streets are desolate and the steady stream of traffic I’m used to floating along in disappears, paranoia creeps up on me. No matter how familiar I am with the road or how well I am following the posted signs, with no cars to trail behind I get this anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’m in the wrong lane or I turned the wrong direction.

As digital director this uncertainty is hardly irrational. At any given time there are nearly 20,000 cops (read: Twitter followers) watching my every move and tricky intersections that seem nothing like the ones I learned about in driver’s ed. Luckily I’ve had plenty of kind streetlights in my life to guide me along the way.

There is also a certain freedom to the open road. The roadblocks of funding and convention that exist in print are removed from the digital highway.

This semester, the web department has gotten a few tickets for excessive speed (read: retweets), failure to yield right of way (read: not knowing when to stop live tweeting) and broken tail lights (read: minor malfunctions with our new website.) We should probably have a sign on our car that says “Student Driver,” but even though we’re still learning we will never use that as an excuse.

Since 1900, The Daily Texan has never used the age of its staff as an excuse for being anything less than excellent, and this philosophy extends beyond the rich history of the printed pages. Hold us to the same standards you would hold any other driver to and feel free to honk at us when we cut you off.

It has been such a privilege to test out the wheels on our new website that has been redesigned in a responsive format to allow readers to get their news seamlessly on a variety of devices. I can’t wait to get back on the road next semester when I return as digital director, but everyday I’m logging the quirks our car has because I know my position is more than just a product of the times. I may be the first, but I surely will not be the last digital director of The Daily Texan.

Thank you for being patient with us. I hope you buckle up and come along for the ride.