After 30 years of working at such newspapers as the San Francisco Chronicle and, most recently, the Santa Barbara News-Press, Jerry Roberts has accepted yet another job in journalism – working with the Daily Nexus.
Roberts, who was selected from two other final applicants, will begin work as the newest Storke Student Publications Director on Feb. 20. The publications director oversees fiscal operations and serves as the university liaison for the Daily Nexus and La Cumbre yearbook.
Roberts said he chose to pursue the position after leaving the Santa Barbara News-Press in July because he wanted to combine his journalistic and educational experiences in a scholastic setting.
“I wanted to continue working in journalism, but I wanted to do it in an academic environment,” Roberts said. “I really like UCSB … the opportunity to work out there was really very appealing to me.”
To select a new publications director, UCSB set up a search committee this past Fall Quarter consisting of students and faculty members to interview potential candidates. During the process, former Women’s Center Director Dee Acker and Associate Vice Chancellor of Judicial Affairs Joe Navarro helped fill the publication director position since the former director, Tybie Kirtman, retired in August.
Kirtman said she is optimistic about the publication’s future.
“I hope they thrive, and I think they have the ability to do that,” Kirtman said. “Print is becoming more and more difficult and more and more difficult financially. They have the right kind of people; I think they’ll do just fine.”
KCSB Chief Engineer Bryan Brown, who sat on the search committee, said he approved of the administration’s candidate selection.
“He has shown himself to be a staunch defender of freedom of the press, but has also shown, through his actions, that with freedom of the press comes great responsibility,” Brown said. “All of the candidates that we interviewed were qualified.”
Daily Nexus Editor in Chief Kaitlin Pike, who also sat on the search committee, said she looked forward to working with Roberts.
“He brings substantial talent and wisdom to the job, resources I know the staff will appreciate,” Pike said. “He also seems eager to pursue new paths with the newspaper and encourage its growth. I see nothing but good coming from his being hired.”
Roberts said the interview process helped him to better understand the Nexus’ connection to the local community.
“Going through it … you really saw a range of constituents the Nexus had and how important it is in the daily life of the community,” Roberts said. “That process … opened a number of those perspectives to me.”
Brown said he anticipates Roberts will help the Nexus to improve relations with other on-campus entities.
“I would hope that whoever takes the position would help facilitate some resolution of the conflict between Associated Students and the Nexus … [and] be able to provide additional resources,” Brown said. “[He would] enhance journalistic training that reporters are receiving … and there would be more interaction between the Nexus and KCSB [91.9 FM].”
While she acknowledged the importance of communicating with other entities, Pike emphasized Roberts’ ability to defend the Nexus from outside influence and control.
“He’s obviously shown that he can stand up for journalistic integrity and the separation between business and editorial,” Pike said. “I hope that same tenacity serves him in protecting our voice.”
As director, Roberts said he has a variety of personal goals to improve the Nexus’ internal functions.
“I think overall what I want to do is build on the success of the paper and help take it to the next level at a time when the whole university is really gaining in stature,” Roberts said. “More specifically, the first thing I want to do is create a stable financial environment … second, [I want to] make myself available as a journalism coach to the staff.”
Roberts said he eagerly awaits beginning his new position.
“I was delighted … to be able to get something that fit the criteria that I was looking for so closely,” Roberts said. “After the interview, I was more interested than even before and so I was very pleased to be honored with the offer.”