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‘A lot to explore’: Zuegner named to post at America Media

Carol ZuegnerWhen she arrives at the midtown Manhattan building housing one of the nation’s oldest and most revered publications, Carol Zuegner, BA’77, PhD, is asked by the the attendant behind the desk where she’s headed.

“And I get to say, 'I’m going to America,'” Zuegner says with a smile.

This summer, Zuegner, the newly minted Joella Cohen Chair of Journalism in the Department of Journalism, Media and Computing at Creighton University, was appointed to a three-year term on the nonprofit Board of Directors of America Media, which features a magazine, online and social media content published by the Society of Jesus and which tackles the hardest-hitting issues in the nation and world from a Roman Catholic perspective.

Zuegner is likely the one of the first academic journalists on the board, which also includes names from the world of business, philanthropy and theology. Four times a year, the directors meet in New York City to discuss the publication’s finances, direction and provide support for the editorial staff — where Zuegner sees herself being of ablest assistance.

“They felt it would be a great fit and already, I’ve been talking with one of the editors about development opportunities for the staff and what kind of resources they might need,” said Zuegner, who did her dissertation on Scientific American magazine, leads the Backpack Journalism program and studies across a range of media, including traditional and social. “I know a bit about magazines and I felt it was a great fit for me. There’s so much news happening in the Catholic Church and America has done a great job staying on top of that and being an authoritative source on that news.”

Over the course of the last decade, America, like many media outlets, saw some upheaval in its traditional approaches. The magazine of faith and culture reduced its print schedule from 39 issues a year to 26 in 2017 with much of the content published online and on social media. America opened a bureau in the Vatican, now runs a podcast and is active on several social media channels.

“They’ve been able to step back from the pressures of a print schedule and get more in-depth with what they do online,” Zuegner said. “They have fully embraced going digital-first, recognizing that the news is just going to keep coming and there will be more of it. I really admire what the staff has done.”

Zuegner attended her first Board of Directors meeting in September and is doing her homework to get fully up to speed on the business end of the magazine.

She said the meetings feature good conversations and insights and she’s already made some contributions, translating social media analytics for her fellow board members. Each meeting also ends with a Mass.

“That’s a beautiful touch to it,” Zuegner said. “That we are able to end in that way is special for everyone and a reminder of what we’re there to do.”

Going forward, Zuegner said she’s honored and excited to see what more comes across the board’s desk.

“I think there’s a lot to explore,” she said. “America is already showing how a digital magazine works best. I’m looking forward to reinforcing what we know about social media and digital editions and design, and seeing where we go from here.”

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