By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 3/14/19
HARRISONBURG — Clarissa Cottrill began writing before she knew how to write, drawing pictures on napkins to express herself. Continuing her writing and diving into the journalism industry, Cottrill made her way to becoming the Daily News-Record’s newest editor.
“I always wanted to be a writer and as I got older I saw journalism as this great industry of writing and creativity, but also public service, which are both really important, so I just threw myself into it,” Cottrill said. “I couldn’t not be in writing so it led me into newspapers.”
Cottrill brings a fresh perspective to the DN-R. She previously served as the city editor at The Journal in Martinsburg, W. Va., for more than a year. After graduating from West Virginia University in 2017, she was hired to work at the copy desk of The Dominion Post and earned the position of lead copy editor before leaving to work in Martinsburg and now Harrisonburg.
“I have a really strong background in editing,” Cottrill said. “I was in radio before The Journal, specifically news directing in Morgantown. I went from radio to paper and pretty much stayed in paper ever since.”
Cottrill said she got into editing because she enjoyed having a handle on the entire product when it came to producing a story. Through editing, she was able to watch the process come together to reach the community with the best message. Her time as an copy editor helped her to become prepared for taking on a larger role at the DN-R.
“If anything, being an editor has taught me how to be a better writer,” Cottrill said. “It’s taught me to appreciate the multimedia aspect of what journalism has become and really tap into the community.”
As the new editor, Cottrill wants to work on producing an updated way to deliver the news to DN-R customers, specifically growing a social media presence. “Of course the print product is important, but the news industry isn’t just about a print product anymore,” Cottrill said. “I would like to integrate more of social media into our news and how we report our news, as well as tapping into sections of the community that we are not as integrated as we could be.”
Becoming more involved with James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University, Blue Ridge Community College and Bridgewater College is on Cottrill’s radar.
Cottrill said she has plans to work with the circulation department to address concerns raised by customers about paper accessibility and narrowing down the break in the process.
Cottrill has experience working with staff at the DN-R, working with publisher Craig Bartoldson during her time in Martinsburg.
“We worked really well together, so when he said he had an opening here it just all kind of worked out,” Cottrill said.
Bartoldson said Cottrill will help grow the local and regional news coverage in this dynamic region.