CMM 10: Jessica Roy, Editor in Chief, NYU Local

CMM 10 is a spotlighting of the 10 individuals who have mattered most to college media over the past academic year.  This inaugural edition honors a mix of standout student journalists, innovative student media entrepreneurs, and impassioned outside advocates of campus press 2.0. With a hat tip to the annual Time 100, the posts announcing each honoree include a few words of adoration penned by a close friend or colleague.  Next up…

Jessica Roy

Outgoing Editor in Chief, NYU Local


Editor extraordinaire and all-around new media empress Jessica Roy wrote her first short story years ago on construction paper about a young girl who rescues a crashing airplane by injecting chlorine into its engine.  In the end, no lives were lost- and a writer was born.  Cut to April 2008.  Roy, a New York University student, had earned a rep as a no-holds-barred blogger, part of the tag-team responsible for the must-read “Jess and Josh Talk About Stuff.”  An announcement about a new online student news start-up called NYU Localaiming to be “a mouthpiece of news and culture for the NYU community”- caught her eye.

She was unimpressed, severely unimpressed.  As she blogged, “I shudder to think of the kind of stories this ‘revolutionary’ news blog will cover. . . . It is, as most things at NYU are, a participatory academic circle-jerk for rich kidz and gayz who want to be known in the media world, but don’t want to write about anything real. . .  . Say it with me now: LOL!”  She now laughs at the memory of the post. Why?  Because before it was a day old, the NYU Localites reached out and asked her to contribute instead of critique.  Cue unexpected life journey.

She stepped up, joined up, and quickly moved up the editorial ladder, over time coming to champion NYU Local as an online outlet with actual heart and, err, something else.  “We have a lot of, I don’t know what the term would be for it other than ‘balls,’” Roy told me in March, immediately vaulting herself to the top of my awesomely quotable people list.  “We’re not afraid to approach people who might not necessarily want to interview with us. . . . I think we’re very tenacious and passionate about the content the site produces so we’re not afraid to kind of go after it in a way that maybe isn’t traditional.”

Roy recently graduated from NYU and segued to a San Fran social media start-up. The impassioned writer who long ago helped a child save a plane remains.  In her words, “I reminisce too much, bruise too easily and write because I have to, because if I didn’t I would eventually explode.”

Roy: “A Dear Friend and a Great Mentor”

By Keyana Stevens

I honestly don’t know what I would be doing in college right now if it weren’t for Jess.  She was the one who convinced me to join NYU Local last year, just as I was about to give up on my dream of becoming a reporter. As an editor, she taught me how to be a better writer and a better journalist.  She told me that as young writers, we shouldn’t give up on the media industry just because it’s not doing well.  Since then she’s become a dear friend and a great mentor, and even though she has graduated, she’s still the first person I go to when I need advice on writing.

The thing I really admire about Jess, though, is her honesty.  She’s examined her personal life with a painstakingly self-aware lens.  She’s written about things that I would never have the guts to admit to an audience of close friends, let alone the readership of a public blog, and she has done so with a grace and humility that are far beyond her years.  That determination to tackle tough issues in an honest but considerate way extends to her work in journalism as well.  When NYU Local had to cover a student’s death last fall, Jess was the voice of reason in our group that called for respecting the wishes of the student’s family.

We need more writers like Jess- daring enough to cover difficult issues and compassionate enough to know how to do it right.  I’m thankful I was lucky enough to work with her, even if only for a short year.

Stevens most recently served as entertainment editor of NYU Local.  She’ll be on hiatus this fall while studying abroad.

Other CMM 10 honorees:

Karla Bowsher, University Press

Ryan Dunn & Dave Hendricks, College News Network

Leah Finnegan & Jose Antonio Vargas, Huffington Post College

Adam Goldstein, Student Press Law Center

Windsor Hanger, Stephanie Kaplan & Annie Wang, Her Campus

Davis Shaver, Onward State

Jennifer Waits, Spinning Indie

*** Bonus Footage of Roy:

“Don’t Die in Me” Ukulele Duet in the Subway Station from NYU Local on Vimeo.

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