Meet The New Co Editor-in-Chief of the Fourth Estate: Dana Nickel

Name: Dana Nickel

Position: Co-Editor-in-Chief, Fourth Estate

Instagram: @delizanickel

Twitter: @delizanickel

Dana Nickel is a rising junior at George Mason University who’s already making a name for herself in the world of journalism. She’s stepping up to the position of Co-Editor-in-Chief for the newspaper and writing articles that are receiving national attention such as her news-breaking article on Brett Kavanaugh. I wanted to bring a spotlight to Dana and some of the amazing work she’s already done in the industry.

Jordan Lear (JL): Hi Dana, so first off why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself and why you chose to attend Mason.

Dana Nickel (DN): I am finishing up my sophomore year here at Mason! I came to Mason because I really wanted to explore the opportunities that living near our nation’s capital would provide for me. I grew up in a relatively small town and Mason seemed like a perfect fit since it’s not directly in the middle of the chaos of Washington D.C.

JL: So what exactly is the Fourth Estate?

DN: The Fourth Estate is Mason’s student-run newspaper.

JL: When and why did you decide to join the Fourth Estate?

DN: I joined almost as soon as I moved into my freshman dorm almost two years ago. It honestly feels like it was closer to ten years ago now. But I joined because I wanted to get some hands-on experience for my desired career path: journalism. I was a staff writer originally and I worked on more longform, research-oriented projects. In August, I pitched an idea about covering Mason’s donations on a more in-depth, comprehensive level. About nine months down the line, I was leading a team of staff writers with the Assistant News Editor at the time, Alex Shedd. We ended up publishing a three-part series called Koch Uncovered. After freshman year, I decided to apply for an editorial position within Fourth Estate. I was hired on as the Co Longform Editor at the time but ended up being transferred into the News Section, where I worked as the News Editor with a great Assistant Editor, Abigail Adcox. I was News Editor for most of this academic year and it gave me a lot of great real-world experience in regards to writing, editing and management.

JL: You mentioned that you wanted to get into journalism. Do you see yourself pursuing a career in writing when you graduate?

DN: I do! I honestly spend most of my time thinking about pursuing a career in journalism once I graduate from Mason. I still have some time I think, but I would really like to work for an outlet that has a lot of focus on longform, investigative pieces. Several newspapers and magazines that I know of do work like this.

JL: What made you decide to apply for the position of Editor and Chief?

DN: I decided to apply as a Co-Editor-in-Chief with Hailey Bullis, the former Assistant Culture Editor towards the end of this fall semester. Hailey and I work really well together and have become close friends through our shared work experience. We spent a lot of time together inside and outside the office, and we just got to talking about our goals and hopes for our long term careers. We also had a lot of similar views on how we felt we could work to build up Fourth Estate as a trustworthy outlet for Mason’s student community. This year’s Editor-in-Chief, Alex Shedd, has done an excellent job and Hailey and I were super fortunate with the opportunity to work closely with him. He taught us a lot, and ultimately I think he played a role in our decision to apply for the position of Editors-in-Chief.

JL: What do you hope to accomplish in your new position at the paper?

DN: Hailey and I both have worked really hard as staff writers and editors over the last two years. We are definitely planning to bring our shared experience to the table in order to build up this newspaper. I think a lot of times people kind of write off college newspapers and don’t take student journalists as seriously as they probably should, Hailey and I want to change that narrative going forward. Past editors have definitely done a great job in covering hard-hitting stories and we do want to continue that in our work. We’re also looking towards expanding our media outreach as well. We will be working on reworking our current website as well as including videography along with some of our published stories.

JL: What has been one of your biggest or proudest accomplishments since you started writing for the Fourth Estate?

DN: I’m going back to talking about longform again! I definitely think it’s a toss-up between the Koch Uncovered pieces or when I worked with another editor, Lauren Sullivan, to break the news that Brett Kavanaugh was going to be teaching as a visiting professor at Mason’s law school for the next three years. For me, a big part of why I want to be a journalist is because I have always felt like so many problems can be addressed and resolved in a society if someone is there to just simply tell the truth. If I could spend the rest of my life just telling people the truth, I think I’d be really happy.

JL: What’s your favorite part of writing with the Fourth Estate?

DN: Hands down the best part of working for the paper is the people. I feel like this could be said in any career field, but it can be really comforting to know that when I walk into the newsroom every single person there is super passionate about putting together a newspaper every week. I think that’s a big deal, and it definitely makes all the hard work and long production hours we put in worth it.

Dana Nickel is a powerful young woman in the journalism industry who undoubtedly will continue to create groundbreaking content. Be sure to keep an eye out for Dana in the world of journalism as well as on campus here at George Mason.