Meet Mikala Kane, a senior media studies, journalism and digital arts major with a psychology minor! This Massachusetts native works behind the scene as executive editor of The Defender and, if you go to basketball games, you’ll see her dancing on the court during half-time and timeouts as a member of the Saint Mike’s Dance Team!!
1) How did you become involved with The Defender and the dance team?
I’ve been dancing since I was three years old. I never did soccer as a little kid. You know how everyone does soccer at age five? I never did that, never. My mom originally put me in dance classes because there were no little girls living on my street. So I was always hanging out with my older brother and the guys, which is a good thing, but she was like, “You need little girlfriends.” So, she put in me in dance classes. And I was hooked, and I danced throughout high school. I started taking classes at three, started competing at age six, so when my mom, in high school, was complaining about how much it costs, I was like, “This is your fault because you put me in it in the first place.” So when I was looking at colleges, I actually looked at ones that had journalism programs first of all, but dance in some way, like a dance major or a dance minor or a dance club/team of some kind that I could partake in. And then St. Mike’s, I just fell in love with the community and, luckily enough, there was a dance team. So, I tried out freshman year, and I’ve just been part of it ever since. Defender, we have to take the classes for our journalism major, so I took the first class that everyone has to take, Writing for Media I, and enjoyed it enough that I was like, “I want to take the next two.” So I took Advanced, and then I was news editor last semester, which I enjoyed, so I decided to just keep going with it. I had room in my schedule and it’s something I enjoy doing and it looks good on my resume at the same time, so, why not do it? But I guess I’ve always liked newspapers because my dad works at a newspaper. So growing up I’d visit him at work. He used to be a copy editor for years. Now he’s an IT software analyst so he does computer stuff, but I’d visit him and I just loved it. And so when I was looking and trying to figure out what I’d like to major in, I’ve always been good at reading and writing but I didn’t want to do English, so I tried journalism and, luckily enough, I loved it.
2) How do you plan on using your experience as executive editor after college?
Besides my editorial each week, I don’t do as much writing as I used to. But it’s really taught me good management skills, like people management which is good to have especially because whatever position you’re in after college, you’re working with people. I guess in this position I’m more directing people and assigning stuff which I probably won’t get to until years after college. But it’s a good balance between the staff as my friends and my peers, and me being a leader at the same time. You have to know how to be a good leader, but also not to be a mean person. You can still be a good leader and still be friends with the people that you work with at the same time and I’m really learning how to do that really well. I plan to take that with me to whatever position I end up in after college.
3) What is the most rewarding aspect of being executive editor?
Seeing the staff grow. I select story assignments and I hand them out, but seeing the staff bring those ideas forward and they want to work and do more than even I thought possible. I love that when they come up with their own ideas and they really push for something. Like, “We should do this,” and I’m like, “Alright, let me facilitate that.” So, I think it’s really rewarding to see people that I’m leading do well. It’s not even about me. I’m kind of just a liaison between the school and the paper and the staff and stuff like that. And I do kind of tone the direction of the paper, but mostly I’m just a facilitator to what the staff wants to do. And it’s really nice to see them do great things.
4) What is the most challenging aspect of being executive editor?
Sometimes I kind of wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I guess everybody does at whatever position they’re in. I’ve never done this before – this is my first semester doing it, so I guess next semester maybe I’ll have a better grasp of things. Also, I’m a fairly confident person, but I’m not afraid to ask for help. So, if something comes along that I don’t know how to handle I’ll come up with my own solution but I’ll run it past the advisors. I’m not afraid to do that. And sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong, but it’s a learning process. We’re a student newspaper but we’re a class, we’re a learning experience. So I’d say second-guessing myself sometimes when it comes to more important decisions that I have to make, or just again the balance between the staff as friends that I’ve taken other classes with and the staff as my staff, like I am their leader, but at the same time I’m their friend. So it’s a good balance to have because you can still have fun and be open, but at the same time put your foot down if you need to.
5) What can you say about the importance of good journalism?
Good journalism is so important. Being informed is so important. So I feel like The Defender, it says right on our flag, The Defender is the student voice of St. Michael’s. We are the student voice, so we are, I guess in a way, telling students what is important on campus. But, we’re also informing them because, even take last issue where there were rumors of P-Day being changed, that’s something very important to students. Dispelling those rumors is even a very important thing to do. So, good journalism is important because it is important for people to be informed at any level, not just international/national news, but on campus news. Everyone needs to know what’s going on on campus, not just the students but the staff. It’s more than just a class, it’s more than just something we do for fun: it’s really informing the students, sometimes even stuff that the administration won’t address. We’re not public relations in any way, shape or form. We are news reporters and we report the news be it good or bad for the school, good or bad for the community – everyone needs to be informed of the truth and that’s what we strive for. Bob Woodward always said that journalism is about finding the best obtainable version of the truth. So finding the best version of the truth we can find via our sources and whatnot. So, our job is really to inform people.
6) What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to read. I’m always reading a novel of some kind, if not two, on top of my class reading. Right now I’m reading a novel, and I’m also reading a memoir of a psychologist who actually was manic-depressive herself, so that’s kind of interesting. So I always like to say, in my free time you’ll find me either in the dance studio or with my nose in a book.
7) Is there anything you’d like to add?
My favorite color is pink!