Zoe Cooper wears many hats at Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. and PinalCentral.
You may see her a couple of times a week anchoring our daily News in 90 newscast on the website. But what she does behind the scenes for our organization — one that produces more than 600 print news pages and almost 2 million digital page views per month — is more important.
For the newsroom, she has also become our “news scout,” searching social media and internet platforms for story ledes (leads) with local ties. She has gotten so good at it that I dropped my Google Alerts notification in favor of what I call our “Zoe Alerts.”
One of our reporters out on assignment was asked by a group of Pinal County sheriff’s deputies how we learned so quickly about their “former boss” being suspended at his new job in Texas. That tip came thanks to a Zoe Alert.
Outside the newsroom, Zoe has a variety of responsibilities that range from working with business people to address their promotion and advertising needs to handling and monitoring all the company’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for all the publications.
Zoe is part reporter, advertising rep and marketing guru.
Not bad for a 20-year-old college student.
That’s probably why Zoe was recently named to Editor & Publisher magazine’s “25 Under 35” for 2018. She was the youngest on the list of professionals, who ranged from New York Times and USA Today Network executives to small-community journalists.
Zoe is currently a junior at the University of Arizona studying general studies with an emphasis in arts, media and entertainment. She is the daughter of Co-Publisher Kara K. Cooper, making her part of the fourth generation of a newspaper family, and Casa Grande attorney Steve Cooper.
In grade school, she started working in the classified department at the Casa Grande Dispatch. She won her first advertising award at age 13 through the Arizona Newspapers Association and won five last year.
She has the title of special projects director at the company and her multilayered background has helped build her perspective on an industry that has had to branch out in many directions.
“I believe that it is essential for young professionals to get to know all aspects of the newspaper industry,” she told Editor & Publisher. “Advertising, editorial, production and circulation departments all play an important role in this industry. Each department relies on one another to get the day’s newspaper out to its subscribers and readers. If one department is not doing its job, it affects the other departments and hurts the newspaper’s acceptance and profitability.”
In the introduction of its list, Editor & Publisher said the 25 young professionals featured believe in the future of journalism. “Whether they’re working in digital, circulation, the newsroom or with advertising, these are the leaders moving our industry forward.”
Most of those featured worked in one particular area of the cross-section presented.
Zoe works in all of them.
I tell journalists today that in a multiplatform world of news gathering and presentation, we aren’t asking them to do five different jobs. We are asking them to do one job, five different ways. That is why reporters don’t just write stories, they take photos, record and edit video, attach documents, produce graphics and promote their content.
Newspapers spent decades building that proverbial wall between departments and professionals within the industry.
People like Zoe are breaking down those walls.
Andy Howell is assistant managing editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.