In the Spotlight: Whitney Mountain, Editor in Chief, Flux, University of Oregon

A New Way to Groove.  A Celtic Pioneer.  Flirting with Fate.  Carving a Musical Niche.  Destination Surgery.  Definition of Crazy.  The headlines on its homepage merely hint at the eclectic excellence of Flux, a student news magazine at the University of Oregon focused on using words and visuals to “tell the untold, alternative stories of [the] incredible region” its staffers and host school call home.

Whitney Mountain, the magazine’s outgoing editor in chief, is nicknamed “WhitMo” and can apparently recite an array of lyrics from 1990s rap songs.  One of her favorites: Salt-n-Pepa’s “Shoop.” So here I go, here I go, here I go again, naming the Portland native as the latest deserving j-student to earn a spot in the CMM spotlight.

The current Stanford University journalism master’s candidate transformed herself from “troubled teen” to UO dean’s list student- and became one heck of an editor along the way.  As she shared prior to her UO graduation last spring, “Working on Flux is a dream come true because of its storied tradition of excellence.  But to be asked to serve as the editor in chief was the chance of a lifetime, and it has been one of the most important experiences I have had at the UO.”

Below, Mountain recalls a memorable all-nighter, moustaches, beards, and the uniqueness of Flux‘s northwest locale.

Whitney Mountain, Flux's outgoing editor in chief

What sparked your passion for journalism?

I have always loved performing arts, so when I told my dad that I might want to major in theater, he got scared and encouraged me to seek a more professional approach to being in the public eye.  I think he always wanted to be a journalist, so he suggested it to me.  Since I sincerely had no idea what I wanted to do, I felt fine trying journalism on for size.  It was a perfect fit!  There are so many ways to get involved in journalism, and you get to work with people, which is fabulous for me!

Why does Flux rock?

Flux is the cream of the crop. It is one of the best in the country, and that is why students come from far and wide to work on it during their upper division course work.  After eighteen years, Flux is still winning awards like crazy, which has made it the most sought-after student publication to work for on campus.  When everyone wants to work for a particular magazine, it gets to pick the best and brightest out of an already very talented pool of people.

When Flux has its staff, there is no stopping it.  Some of the most brilliant-minded young media (soon to be) professionals work on Flux, which in turn, is why it is an honor to work for such a magazine.  Not only does Flux have some of the brightest young minds at work on its pages, but being based in the northwest has made Flux eclectic, interesting, and full of stories that could never be told if the magazine wasn’t produced at the University of Oregon.

What advantages does Flux have over a professional news mag?

We are all students.  That means that we have the opportunity to collaborate on all levels.  We work together with our peers and build on each other’s areas of expertise.  Also, thanks to the SOJC [UO’s School of Journalism & Communication], we don’t have to worry as much about the business of running a magazine. We have enough financial freedom that we can focus solely on our craft.

And of course we wouldn’t be anywhere without the guidance of the exceptional faculty and staff who serve as invaluable resources throughout the production process. At Flux, we are expected to be great, but we are still expected to be students, and that means always learning new things and growing as future professionals.  We are always given the opportunity to learn, grow, and change, which may not be available in the professional world.

What is one story that especially embodies the awesomeness of Flux?

One of my favorites and one that is most Flux-esque is “No Shave, No Shame,” which is a story about the Central Oregon Moustache and Beard Society (COMBS). This story is unique to northwest culture, and it is one that hasn’t seen very much media coverage.  Not only was it a great “untold story from the northwest,” but it also had some of the best photography I have seen from a student photojournalist.  Rob Dyck had two huge photo spreads in this year’s issue of Flux, and although he shot our cover story, the COMBS story felt more like the eclectic feature that Flux is known for.

Best memory of your Flux work.

Our all-nighter.  I LOVE hunkering down for a long stint of good hard editing, so when it came time for our group of top editors and advisers to make sure that each of us had our eyes on every story, I welcomed the challenge.  It was so fun getting together and collaborating to fill the enormous shoes of 17 years of Flux greatness.  We had some of the best student editors in the SOJC, some of the best instructors, and some of the best people to work with together for a night of doing what we all love most- great journalism.

You wake up in ten years.  Where are you and what are you doing?

I am a managing editor at a magazine like Sunset or Martha Stewart Living.  Or I am copy editing, while raising a family.  If I am lucky, it will be a combination of the two.

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