The Afro-Latina Editor-In-Chief bringing back Drexel’s student newspaper
Kiara Santos is managing the newspaper's operations and returning to regular publication, following a two-year hiatus brought by the pandemic.
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This year, Drexel University’s independent campus newspaper, The Triangle, took on its first Afro-Latina editor-in-chief, Kiara Santos. Now in her senior year at the university, she has pulled the newspaper out of the hiatus the pandemic left it in.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Santos has had a longstanding goal of becoming a journalist, making use of Drexel’s co-op program to spend her summers gaining experience with organizations like Mighty Writers and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
“They say that a Drexel graduate always gets their dream job, but I know I have to walk a different path to see myself succeed, to win a Pulitzer,” Santos said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Santos’ history with the paper started when she arrived at the University to pursue her degree in communications, joining the newspaper in the fall of 2018 as a reporter in her freshman year.
Unfortunately, the newspaper would declare bankruptcy the same year, ceasing its print editions due to a lack of ad-revenue in sales — which is their primary source of funding, along with donations — as the paper is not funded by Drexel University. To make matters worse, The Triangle faced difficulties in replacing graduating staff members who took with them the experience and knowledge of operating a newspaper.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, The Triangle disappeared into a two-year hiatus. The last weekly edition Santos was to publish came out in the summer of 2020.
“I joined The Triangle, because I wanted to be a strong writer and to learn the ins and outs to running a student newspaper. I remember going out on my first assignment, a Me Too protest at Penn, with my audio recorder in hand,” Santos said.
“And I just fell in love with it all...but, at the time, I thought that there was no way I would be able to climb the ladder with all the white boys that were in power,” she continued.
After four years of trials and tribulations, Santos – now a veteran member of the staff – was offered the position of editor-in-chief when the previous editor stepped down from the role.
Since taking on the position, Santos has worked to bring the paper back, beginning the journey with just herself and five other students.
So far, she has been working to reconnect with more experienced alumni of the paper, recruited a diverse and growing group of 20 journalists to cover the paper's beats, and leads their marketing campaign as they work to bring the paper back.
“It was tough to bring people together to build this back. Some didn’t want to spend 3-4 hours of their week in a cold and dusty basement office, but we managed to overcome differences and difficulties,” Santos said.
“Now, we are a bunch of geeks, passionate about a newspaper, doing volunteer work while treating it as if we worked for the New York Times,” she continued.
For Santos, the future of the article is a vital element to her work, especially as she intends to step down from her position following her graduation.
In order to ensure smooth transitions following her and other members’ departure from the paper, she brought a managing editor on board to coordinate changes in role.
“When I step down after graduation, I want it to be a diverse and financially strong student newspaper. One that is as good as other papers in the region, like the ones at Penn and Rutgers,” she explained.
As for the near future of her time at the paper, Santos expects finances to allow them to publish at least one more print edition in September-October.