The 2023-24 Minnesota Daily editor-in-chief was made for his role.
Junior Alex Steil grew up in Lake Elmo, Minn., and attended Stillwater High School, where his love for writing began. Now a double major in music and journalism, with a minor in political science, Steil is pleased with how all his interests overlap and how as a journalism major, he never stops learning.
Why did you decide to pursue your majors?
When I was still in high school, I knew that I wanted to do something with writing. I was unsure whether straight journalism or more musical writing, like program notes or something similar, was what I wanted to do. After learning more about both careers in a professional sense, I knew that journalism was going to be the fit for me. I started off as a copy editor at the Daily my freshman year, then moved quickly over to the state legislature beat — and I loved it. After getting that real, hands-on experience (that I really don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else other than the Daily) I fell in love. I came back for the fall on a general assignment beat and applied for EIC that following spring. Even though I’m continuing the music major now more as a hobby, my love for journalism as a craft has really solidified over this past calendar year or so.
What has been your favorite part of your experience at the Hubbard School?
My favorite part of the Hubbard School, hands down, has been the variety of classes (and students within them). My first semester at school I was with students who were studying psychology then the next I was studying administrative law with an emphasis on advertising. Everything is always so fascinating here — the faculty and students really have made the whole experience all worth it.
What is one aspect of your major that most surprised you?
Although I’m not surprised by learning here, I am surprised by how much I’m learning. I’ve been acquainted with AP style and journalistic writing since my sophomore year in high school — yet just the other day I learned a new AP style rule. I’m always learning something new with a journalism degree, no matter how long I’ve been reading the news or writing clips. That said, within the broader College of Liberal Arts, I have been really pleased with how all of my majors are complementing each other.
What class or professor has had the biggest impact on you?
It’s a tough call, but I would have to go with Jonathan Anderson or Seth Richardson. Not only are they respectable professors and kind people, but they have also had professional backgrounds in journalism. I have talked with both of them about ethical questions and more nitty-gritty aspects of being a journalist, more so than I have my other professors. I could go on about them both, but they are two really high-level thinkers and teachers.
What do you hope to bring to the Minnesota Daily as EIC?
This year as EIC, I’m hoping to build our community — both internally as an organization and externally as a community newspaper. Internally, I’m hoping to bring people back into the office for various production functions. Externally, however, I want the organization to have even stronger bonds with the community. I want the Daily to be seen as a community newspaper that represents the community, not just because we know what’s going on but concurrently because our community knows they can come to us with ideas for articles or topics to cover.
What advice do you have for future journalism students and/or MN Daily reporters?
Never be afraid to ask. While it may sound cliche or oft-repeated, asking for something (especially as a journalist) can get you some of the best stories, quotes or opportunities. The number of contacts I have that can pitch me stories because I have asked them what’s going on, professionals that I have in my network or events that I have gotten to cover simply because I asked is astonishing to me. Asking for advice, professionally or personally, has gotten me very far in this career and I can not undersell this quality in a journalist: never stop asking questions, either of professionals for your own career learning or of sources.