Then and Now: CW editors through the years

Hoke+Perkins+%28middle%29+was+the+Editor-in-Chief+of+the+Crimson+White+from+1975-1977.+He+received+a+Rhodes+scholarship+after+graduating.+CW+File
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Then and Now: CW editors through the years

Hoke Perkins (middle) was the Editor-in-Chief of the Crimson White from 1975-1977. He received a Rhodes scholarship after graduating. CW File

Hoke Perkins (middle) was the Editor-in-Chief of the Crimson White from 1975-1977. He received a Rhodes scholarship after graduating. CW File

Hoke Perkins (middle) was the Editor-in-Chief of the Crimson White from 1975-1977. He received a Rhodes scholarship after graduating. CW File

Hoke Perkins (middle) was the Editor-in-Chief of the Crimson White from 1975-1977. He received a Rhodes scholarship after graduating. CW File

CW News Staff

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An award-winning author, a Rhodes scholar and Stephen Spielberg’s attorney all met in one place: the Office of Student Media. To celebrate 125 years of our publication, we researched and talked to some of the CW’s past editors about their favorite memories in the newsroom.

Robert Rick McCammon, 1973-1974

Robert Rick McCammon became the Editor-in-Chief of the Crimson White during his senior year after spending his first three years as a staff writer and feature editor.  

“It’s funny because, in stressful situations, I still have dreams of putting together the paper at night,” McCammon said. 

After college, McCammon joined the copy desk of a local newspaper. After being denied from writing features for the paper because he was on the copy desk, McCammon began writing his first book, Baal, in 1977, which was published in 1978. By the time he wrote his third book, Bethany’s Sins, in 1980, he had decided to leave the newspaper and pursue a career in writing full time. 

“I never thought, when I first started out writing, that I would really be able to make a career out of it. It was just something I did because like I said I had this dead in job I had to do something, but it really worked out much better than I ever hoped that it was going to work out,” he said. 

McCammon went on to garner three New York Times best-selling titles for his novels, Swan Song, Stinger, and The Wolf’s Hour and 6 Bram Stoker Awards. In total, he published 23 books and two short story collections, Nightcrawlers and Blue World. 

“You have to feel that you have stories that people would enjoy reading, and also you have to feel that the stories you’re writing that nobody can write it like you can,” McCammon said. “Nobody’s going to be able to approach the story and write it as well as you can, and as a matter of fact, if you don’t write the story, it’s never going to be written.”

Currently, McCammon said he is working on the 8th book in a nine-book mystery series about a young man who’s a detective in the colonial era. 

“My best feeling about my work is that I’m not done. I still have a lot to do, and I’m probably never going to be finished with what I want to do, but I’ve got a lot ahead of me, and I’m excited about it,” said McCammon. 

Monde Murphy Donaldson, 1974-1975

Monde Murphy Donaldson became the Editor-In-Chief of the Crimson White during her senior year. Donaldson began her post-collegiate career at The Anniston Star and the Mobile Press-Register. Currently, Donaldson serves as the Vice President of the Better Business Bureau Educational Foundation.

Jan Crawford, 1985-1986

Jan Crawford, editor-in-chief from 1985-1986, currently serves as the chief legal and political correspondent for CBS. Her professional career began as a reporter at The Chicago Tribune in 1987; she received the Tribune’s highest reporting award. She was an authority voice on the Supreme Court through her work for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Face the Nation.

Maizie Bryant, 2013-2014

Maizie Bryant graduated from the University in 2014 and moved to New York to begin working for Esquire magazine. She moved back to Tuscaloosa to start law school in 2017, where she is currently the Editor-in-chief of the Alabama Law Review

“When I was editor of The Crimson White, we published ‘The Final Barrier,’ a Pulitzer Prize-nominated story on segregation in the sorority recruitment process on campus,” Bryant said. “As a member of a sorority myself, it was an incredibly demanding year, but it was amazing to see the real-world impact our reporting could have.”

At the end of the year, reporters Abbey Crain, Matt Ford and Bryant were recognized by the University for their reporting with a plaque beside Denny Chimes.

“Abbey and I walked to the Quad to see it, and we ended up lying in the grass, soaking up the sunshine and reflecting on what had been a difficult but incredibly rewarding year,” Bryant said. “Courageous reporting has the power to make real change in the world, and The Crimson White gave us an outlet to give it a shot.”

Victor Luckerson, 2010-2012

Editor Victor Luckerson leading a budget meeting. CW File

Victor Luckerson served as editor-in-chief of The Crimson White in April 2011, when an EF4 tornado devastated the Tuscaloosa community. 

Prior to its coverage of this natural disaster, The Crimson White had a modest social media presence with a follower count of around 400. With a city-wide electricity outage during the disaster, Luckerson turned to Twitter to bring updates to the community, a decision that marked a permanent shift toward digital reporting. By Fall 2011, The Crimson White’s Twitter had over 14,000 followers. It is now the most followed college newspaper in the country with a following of more than 65,000.

“We didn’t have access to electricity for a while, but our phones still worked so we could still tweet stuff,” Luckerson said in a Sports Illustrated article. “That became like a really sort of central way we delivered the news for several days. A lot of people on campus later told me that when they were in their dorms without power they were getting information that was going out through The Crimson White’s Twitter account.”

Luckerson told The Crimson White that the experience showed him the positives of a changing media landscape.

“I learned a lot about covering a community responsibly, and a lot about how digital media can be more useful than print which, at that time, seemed a little bit novel,” he said.

Luckerson noted the production of four print editions per week as the biggest difference between The Crimson White during his time as editor-in-chief from 2010-2012 and its twice-weekly print editions now. 

“When I was in school, our production process was very much still based on the print newspaper,” Luckerson said. “I think it’s good that the mentality is about breaking stuff online first. 

Following his time at UA, Luckerson has worked at Time and The Ringer, where he primarily covered business and technology. He is currently working on a book titled Built From the Fire that addresses Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood district, commonly referred to as “Black Wall Street.” 

Elizabeth Elkin, 2017-2018

Elizabeth Elkin discovered The Crimson White within weeks of arriving at UA her freshman year. She spent the remainder of her time at the University serving as contributing writer, news editor and managing editor until becoming editor-in-chief in 2017 during her senior year. 

She noted her attraction to investigative reporting and cited the publication of her piece on sexual assault as a notable experience in her journalism career. . 

“My piece on sexual assault in 2016 is still the piece I use to apply for jobs,” said Elkin. “It’s still the thing everyone asks me about. I first met my source for that story my freshman year while I was working on a whole other story.” 

She said the relationships she developed with her peers at The Crimson White remain her strongest connections from her time at UA. 

“I just saw three people I used to work with when I was in Tuscaloosa over Thanksgiving,” said Elkin. “I’m still dating my managing editor.”

Elkin is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Journalism at the University of Missouri and serves as the Editor-In-Chief at Vox Magazine. 

EDITORS THROUGH THE YEARS

1894 — C.C. Pugh

1894-95 — Elijah Stewart Pugh

1895-96 — Louis Marion Moseley

1896-97 — Earle Pettus

1897-98 — S.H. Sprott

1898-99 — James W. Stickney Jr.

1898-99 — Leo Leva

1900-91 — Fred George Moore

1901-02 — George Herbert Jones

1902-03 — Hugh Waddell Roberts

1903-04 — James Holtzclaw Kirkpatrick

1904-05 — John Wesley Vardaman

1905-06 — John William “Billie” McLeod

1906-07 — Jelks Henry Cabiness

1907-08 — Hugh Madison Caffey Jr.

1908-09 — Sam F. Clabaugh

1909-10 — Sam F. Clabaugh

1910-11 — Augustus Laurence Barber

1911-12 — William Richardson Jr.

1912-13 — Charles McPherson/Aduston Rogers Jr.

1913-14 — Jesse Hamilton Jackson

1914-15 — Jesse Hamilton Jackson

1915-16 — John Hale Pearson

1916-17 — John Asa Rountree

1917-18 — Bartley C. Durham Jr.

1918-19 — Frank L. Batts

1919-20 — W. Emmett Perry

1920-21 — John J. Sparkman

1921-22 — Leigh Mallett Clark

1922-23 — Joseph Samuel Perry

1923-24 — Forrest B. “Duke” Merritt

1924-25 — Ben A. Green

1925-26 — Ethelred “Epp” Sykes

1926-27 — Arthur Bennett McLean

1928-29 — Orville Rush

1929-30 — Frank Rushing Broadway

1930-31 — James Bentley Roberts Jr.

1931-32 — Elwood Ross Richardson

1932-34 — Paul Duncan

1934-35 — Carroll Kirpatrick

1935-36 — Bill Sturdevant

1936-37 — Frank Edward Davidson

1937-38 — Walt Bogart Jr.

1938-39 — Bill Graham

1939-40 — Bob Collins

1940-41 — C. Haynes Thompson

1941-42 — Howard “Hank” Lewis

1942-43 — William Emmett Brooks Jr./Barbara Hodge

1943-44 — Lorraine Nelson

1944-45 — Ann Wood

1945-46 — Barbara Rosenfeld/Jane Freret

1946-47 — Jane Freret

1947-48 — Charles W. McBurney

1948-49 — Cheri Chandler

1949-50  — Harry Cook

1950-51 — Sam W. Harvey

1951-52 — Tom Taylor

1952-53 — Charles Wilson

1953-54 — Bruce Harrison 

1954-55 — Bill Rasco

1955-56 — Nelson Cole

1956-57 — Phil Smith/Judy Means

1957-58 — James William Hall

1958-59 — Tom Lankford

1959-60 — Bob Cohn

1960-61 — Waylon Smithey/Louis Amis

1961-62 — Jim Wilder

1962-63 — Mel Meyer

1963-64 — Hank Black 

1964-65 — Bill Plott

1965-66 — Bill Moore Shamblin Jr.

1966-67 — Billie Blair 

1967-68 — Bill Crowe

1968-69 — Dana Beecham

1969-70 — Bill Kilgore

1970-71 — Pete Cobun

1971-72 — Despina Vodantis 

1972-73 — Ron Casey

1973-74 — Rick McCammon 

1974-75 — Monde Murphy Donaldson

1975-76 — Hoke Perkins  

1976-77 — Hoke Perkins

1977-78 — Mark Mayfield 

1978-79 — Jerry Tait

1979-80 — Suzanne Kennemer 

1980-81 — Rebel Steiner 

1981-82 — Johanna Cleary

1982-83 — Ellen Rossler

1983-84 — Lance McKerley 

1984-85 — H. Edgar Howard

1985-86 — Jan Crawford 

1986-87 — Mike Brantley

1987-88 — Elizabeth McKenzie

1988-89 — Lee McCarley

1989-90 — Danny Susick/Carolyn Acree

1990-91 — George Arnold

1991-92 — Peter O’Connell

1992-93 — Lawrence Specker

1993-94 — Barry Harrell

1994-95 — Sean Kelley

1995-96 — Michelle Hall

1996-97 — Lesley Brown

1997-98 — Michael Haun

1998-99 — Jody Glaeser

1999-00 — Melissa Wyllie

2000-01 — Joseph Bryant 

2001-02 — Luke Connell

2002-03 — Stacey Whitlow

2003-04 — Chris Sanders 

2004-05 — Lauren Davidson

2005-06 — Chris Otts

2006-07 — Marlin Caddell

2007-08 — Mike Faulk

2008-09 — Corey Craft

2009-10 — Amanda Peterson

2010-11 — Victor Luckerson

2001-12 — Victor Luckerson

2012-13 — Will Tucker 

2013-14 — Mazie Bryant 

2014-15 — Deanne Winslett/Andy McWhorter 

2015-16 — Sean Landry 

2016-17 — Peyton Shepard 

2017-18 — Elizabeth Elkin 

2018-19 — Jake Stevens 

2019-20 — Savannah Bullard