Name: Laura Scudder
Position: Co-Editor-in-Chief, Fourth Estate
Laura Scudder is a rising senior at George Mason University, she has served as the president of GMU’s chapter for the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). She’s been a trailblazer within the journalism community within Mason over the past few years writing and serving in various positions for different organizations. This year, she’s adding Co-Editor-in-Chief of Mason’s Fourth Estate. For these amazing accomplishments, I felt Laura was the perfect person to highlight.
Jordan Lear (JL): Hi Laura, so first off, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself and why you chose to attend Mason?
Laura Scudder (LS): I am originally from Michigan, and I love it, but I knew I wanted to be farther away from home during college. I attended the Washington Journalism and Media Conference here in 2017, which is a summer conference Mason offers to high school students who are interested in pursuing careers or have interests in journalism. After attending, I looked more into Mason and now, here we are!
JL: When and why did you decide to join the Fourth Estate?
LS: I joined Fourth Estate in the fall semester of my freshman year. I knew I wanted to contribute to the newspaper in some way, and I ended up coming on as Social Media Editor. Then I became one of the copy editors, switched to News Editor, and here I am now.
JL: Do you see yourself pursuing a career in Journalism when you graduate?
LS: I do! Honestly, I am open to whatever paths in journalism I may be able to follow, but I know that I do want to be a reporter. If my reporting could also allow me to travel, that would be a huge plus. My minor is Sustainability Studies, and I would ideally like to combine my areas of study and do some reporting on different aspects of sustainability issues we’re facing currently.
JL: What made you decide to apply for the position of Editor-in-Chief?
LS: I knew that Fourth Estate’s previous co-editors, Hailey Bullis and Dana Nickel, would not be returning for the 2020-2021 year, and I have always loved my time editing and doing the legwork for the paper. So, when I knew that they were leaving, it was something I thought more seriously about doing. And when I knew that my co-editor, Peter Njoroge, was interested in the position, it was a no-brainer. I am really fortunate to get to work with Peter as my partner. There is no way I could do it without him, and there is no one I would rather do the job with.
JL: What do you hope to accomplish in your new position at the paper?
LS: I hope — and I know Peter wants this as well — to help build up our Fourth Estate community and really lay a solid foundation for the future staff that comes after us.
JL: What has been one of your biggest or proudest accomplishments since you started writing for the Fourth Estate?
LS: I certainly think I’ve become a stronger writer and reporter from my experience working on the paper. Seeing that progress within myself has been neat. I also think becoming Co-Editor-in-Chief with Peter has been a point of pride for me.
JL: What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face since taking on the position?
LS: Obviously it is not unique to me, but I think that the lack of in-person time we’re able to spend as a team is tough. Luckily everyone is really great at communicating and being available for things virtually, but there’s just something different about in-person connection. I try not to let that aspect get me down — as there is really nothing I can do about a global pandemic — but I hope people are able to recognize the sort of collective grief we’re dealing with as a society about all of the things that we’re losing.
JL: What do you feel is the most rewarding part of being the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Fourth Estate?
LS: The people. Getting to see our staff, from editors to writers, grow their skills is something that never gets old. It’s really great to be able to progress along with them. I am really proud of everyone I have worked with at Fourth Estate, especially this year. Despite everything that is going on, our staff continues to be open to different ideas and willing to do the work.
Laura Scudder is a powerhouse when it comes to journalism. She’s a student who works hard and puts forth the best in whatever she does. I have no doubts that she’ll go on to do amazing things in the future, so be sure to remember her name!