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A Q&A with Amanda Willis, the Editor-in-Chief of The Buzz

One of the publications on campus that really sticks out to me is The Buzz, the editorial and lifestyle magazine for students at Boston University, and spearheading it all this year is Amanda Willis, the Editor-in-Chief. She’s from Tallahassee, Florida and a senior majoring in sociology.

The Buzz publishes a physical magazine once a semester with photoshoots and articles. They also post other content throughout the semester on their website and social media. Check out their Instagram here (I love the aesthetic they’ve got going on).

Now, onto the Q&A with The Buzz’s Editor-in-Chief, Amanda Willis. Answers have been shortened for clarity.

Q: When did you join The Buzz?

A: I joined the magazine my freshman year as a photographer, and I just moved my way up through the photography positions and then from the photography department I became Editor-in-Chief.

Q: What was it like being in the photography department before?

A: It was really fun. You got to do a lot of different assignments so you were just adding to your repertoire of photos that you already had. It’s a career builder in a way to put a lot on your resume. At one point I had three different jobs; I was doing event planning, photography, and social media, which was really important.

Q: Why did you join The Buzz freshman year?

A: I was a freshman, so I wanted to get to know people and I thought The Buzz would be a really good idea for that. It didn’t have the kind of feel where it was intimidating, unlike a lot of clubs. I also like to do photography on the side, so that kind of lured me in.



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Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your role in the magazine?

A: I’m Editor-in-chief of The Buzz. What that entails is just making sure that all the moving parts are going in the right direction. Because there are so many different layers to making the magazine, you have to have somebody who's overseeing all of the layers to make sure that it comes together in a positive way.

Q: Over the past year, is there anything that has stood out to you as something you’ve learned about leadership and heading this magazine?

A: The thing that stood out to me is really watching different staff members grow, and you feel kind of like a proud mom when you watch them grow, which is kind of funny. The person who’s going to be Editor-in-Chief next year, just watching their trajectory and how they’ve gotten better at doing different jobs that aren’t just their own thing, seeing what I used to do replicated in them, it’s really interesting.

Q: What is a project that you’ve worked on for the magazine that you’re most proud of, either this year or in all four years?

A: It’s probably the fashion shoot that I did last year. It was when I was the photo director for print. And we did a fashion shoot, which is our main spread and is about 10 pages long. That was my favorite because you get to be the creative director. You see everything, work with fashion on the clothes, scout models, ... It’s just a giant affair. We did our shoot on the T and that was really fun.

Q: Have you been able to work on larger projects like that yourself or in other sections because of the pandemic and everyone being spread out?

A: It’s been difficult. I know that the Editor-in-Chief before me didn’t publish a magazine for one of the [semesters] — you publish two a year. They couldn’t actually publish one for the second half because of the pandemic — everybody went home. It was difficult because nobody was really on campus. But since people came to campus, the hardest part was the fashion shoot we do have. We had everybody get tested and it was kind of like the same protocol you have to go to go to a dorm, you had to do to come to the fashion shoot. You have to bring your badge and show that you got tested beforehand because we didn’t want anybody to get sick because of photos.

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Q: Is this semester’s print edition coming out really soon?

A: The next one’s coming out at the beginning of May so that our seniors can get a copy. I’m really excited that we were able to get two editions out during COVID. It’s been really, really nice because I don’t think anybody expected us to be able to do it. We even did a summer edition, which has been really exciting for this year’s team.

Q: Has the type of content or the way your approach projects changed because of the pandemic too?

A: No, not really. It’s something that I’ve realized that you can do pretty much remotely. Why have a meeting when it all could have been said over email? We realized that you could do everything remotely with The Buzz instead of having a million different meetings on Zoom.

Q: Are there any other clubs or internships that you’ve done where you’ve learned something that you use a lot with your role at The Buzz or vice versa, taking things you’ve learned from The Buzz to outside projects?

A: With photography and video, I’ve used a lot of what I've learned at The Buzz in my current internship at NOVA PBS. And so, right now, I’m in the middle of making my own video for them and a lot of that stuff I learned doing projects to people at The Buzz, so that’s really a good thing. And it may not necessarily be things that I worked on for The Buzz, but it was people that I met through The Buzz that I had video projects with that really helped me out. Doing social media for The Buzz also helped me work with other internships that I’ve done.

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Q: The aesthetic of the magazine seems to have changed, and I really like what’s going on now with the black and blue and orange on the Instagram feed. What has it been like working at a magazine that seems very free-flowing in the way that the aesthetics look where you have the same type of content but you’re able to change how it looks and feels?

A: The new aesthetic is something that I spearheaded when I came on. I wanted to completely change The Buzz — well not completely change it, but change its aesthetic. I wanted to make it a little bit more edgy and a little bit more editorial. Online, I found this template that I really liked. That’s the thing I like about The Buzz. It’s very free-flowing, and whoever’s editor-in-chief works with their team to create something that is reminiscent of their team and the leadership team of that year.

Q: What should newer readers expect when they read the content and see all of the photography and artwork on the site?

A: The tone is definitely more like a lifestyle magazine. We try to be visually appealing with every piece that comes out because we have a photo or graphic for every written piece. I think that sometimes we’ll put something kind of provocative in there, but it’s usually still a very kind, neutral read.

Q: Do you have any advice for incoming freshmen and transfers who are looking to join The Buzz or any other club on campus to build community?

A: I would say just do it. Because, honestly, it’s one of the best things that’s happened for me and you can definitely find your niche at The Buzz. There are so many different topics that you can work on. Send me an email and we can place you where the right fit is.

I want to say a huge thank you to Amanda for allowing me to interview her and ask about The Buzz. I hope you learned something new about this publication and what it takes to be the Editor-in-Chief!

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Madison is studying journalism and international relations at BU. She's from Washington state, loves drinking tea, and watching Marvel movies. Check out her portfolio and blog at https://dontmakelies.com
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