Like countless other successful relationships, it began in line at Chick-Fil-A.
Having heard about her Echo section editor for weeks in advance, Ellie Tiemens finally met Holly Gaskill through a chance encounter their freshman year.
“I knew her name and I think I knew her from Instagram,” Tiemens said. “She turned around and was like, ‘Are you Ellie?’”
Since then, seniors Tiemens and Gaskill have consistently worked together as writers and editors for The Echo. Though they come from different journalistic backgrounds, carry different experiences with them and are pursuing different majors, Tiemens and Gaskill find that the workload is always shared equally between them.
Gaskill, a multimedia journalism major with experience in the newsroom, brings a nuanced understanding of the reporting world to the table, along with an easygoing personality that sets the tone for Echo staff.
Tiemens, pursuing a degree in professional writing, complements Gaskill’s skillset with an eye for grammar and a sense of efficiency that takes The Echo’s content to the next level.
When the positions of editors-in-chief were made available in the spring of 2021, Tiemens and Gaskill knew they were potential candidates for the job. However, after working together so effectively in years past, neither of them wanted to pursue the position independently.
“We kind of made a pact early on — we work well together, we’ve done stuff together; we know that our strengths balance each other out and we pick up each other’s weaknesses,” Tiemens said. “So we said, ‘I’ll do it if you do it.’”
As Tiemens and Gaskill consider what it means to act as the face of The Echo, they do not take lightly the responsibility they have been given. At minimum, the position of editor-in-chief means coordinating and balancing the logistics of training week, organizing and leading multiple meetings on a weekly basis and communicating with every party related to the paper, while ensuring that the quality of writing and production remain consistent with Echo standards.
Additionally, both editors-in-chief recognize the opportunity they have been given to set the tone in the newsroom and among the staff.
“News has just been really serious the last couple years, especially on Taylor’s campus — so a lot of people here are passionate about writing,” Gaskill said. “And that’s all great stuff, but I also want us to be passionate about one another — to keep that essence of the Taylor community within newspaper staff.”
Furthermore, following a year of pandemic restrictions which kept even the newspaper office off-limits, Gaskill and Tiemens are ready to reimagine what it looks like to be The Echo.
Themed production nights, weekly family dinners and collaborative Spotify playlists are just a few ways Tiemens and Gaskill hope to unify the Echo staff and foster a fun, collaborative environment that will bring color to what can easily become a black-and-white process.
Both Tiemens and Gaskill remember the welcome they received upon joining The Echo staff and desire to establish a community among staff members that will encourage every individual to be the best they can be.
“I want to be the same person that my co-editors-in-chief and my editors were for me freshman year and sophomore year,” Gaskill said. “I think that’s a huge trajectory for us this year — to be there for (the staff writers), to be (their) biggest champions, to be the people who encourage (them) to get better.”
Despite their excitement for what lies ahead, The Echo’s editors-in-chief anticipate significant challenges in the coming year.
Between unusually intense news stories occurring on a regular basis and fewer returning staff members than in the past, Tiemens and Gaskill realize that it will be difficult to not overburden their team.
“A lot of people are playing double duty with designing and writing or designing and editing,” Tiemens said. “We love that our staff is so flexible, but we want to make sure that it’s not draining them so they can continue to produce good content for the entire year.”
As The Echo prepares to start its 109th year of production, Tiemens and Gaskill hope to engage Taylor’s community in the process.
Drawing inspiration from The Echo’s tagline, “You are the voice, we are The Echo,” the two welcome feedback from across campus and hope to encourage others to bring their passions to the paper.
“We don’t just want to be something you pick up and then you put down when you’re done reading,” Gaskill said. “(We) want there to feel like there’s a little bit more life to everything going on.”