Some people have such a passion for their craft that they strive to share their skills with others. This is the case for Gretchen Macchiarella, the new publisher for CSUN’s student newspaper The Sundial.
Macchiarella graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to pursue a career in journalism as a business reporter and editor.
The most recent position she held was as the managing editor for digital content at the Ventura County Star where her fondest memory was of her sneaking over to the printing press to, “watch the presses roll. You could just watch the papers come off the press and it smells like ink and grease, it’s awesome.”
Macchiarella first dabbled in digital journalism when she suggested the Ventura County Star should develop a newscast. The editor put her in charge of a project which required her to build a website, a task she was previously unfamiliar with.
As a result, she spent weeks in Barnes & Noble learning the basics of what is now her main focus.
“The real connections on a daily, hourly, answer-my-questions-right-now basis is coming digitally,” Macchiarella explains. “I’m not trying to drag The Sundial out of some prehistoric practices, my focus is helping everybody to think about digital storytelling and the creative ways that we can help our audience understand the world and meet their needs quickly, easily.”
Macchiarella arrived on campus as changes have already started with the work of former publisher and professor, Melissa Lalum, who is also involved in digital and mobile journalism. Lalum likewise anticipates the growth of The Sundial as a digital product with Macchiarella’s guidance.
“I’m really excited to see what she’s going to bring to The Sundial because I know it’ll be wonderful,” said Lalum.
Macchiarella believes digital tools can help enhance a story and guide readers.
“These tools can be used to build a completely different kind of story…and I think that is so freeing,” she said. “There’s so much creativity to it, and you need to know how to write a news story before you can know how to tell a story with a map, but you can tell a story with a map, and that’s really cool.”
Linda Bowen, CSUN Journalism Department Chair believes that due to Macchiarella’s experience, The Sundial will be able to move forward faster than what was anticipated.
“She is the perfect person to come to us at this moment in the history of The Sundial,” said Bowen. “In a university environment it’s where you’re supposed to try things out and fail if you will. She’s going to be able to roll with the punches and handle whatever challenges that come her way.”
Along with pushing for a digital transition at The Sundial, Macchiarella hopes to propel a creative and journalistic endeavor by the students for the students.
“I want to make sure that we are serving the community, not just the journalism students, not just the journalism department but that there’s that connection to the audience,” said Macchiarella. “I think that’s going to be a key way that journalists function in the future. We’ve been really insular, frequently writing stories for ourselves, but we can’t do that anymore. We’ll lose our audience and they’ll go somewhere else,” she said.
Andrew Martinez, the editor in chief for The Sundial, looks forward to working with Macchiarella and said her enthusiasm is contagious in the workplace.
“[She] helps everyone else get energized and motivated to work,” said Martinez.
Macchiarella hopes that working on campus will bring balance to her life. She would like to attain this by completing her masters in digital journalism design online at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and by spending more time with her husband and two daughters.
Despite having a life plan, Macchiarella quickly learned the importance of being flexible. As The Sundial’s digital guru, she encourages students to learn and adapt to the changing world with an open mind, something she has experience with as she transitions The Sundial into the digital realm.