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
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