by Rachel Ramirez
Alex Nicoll started his journalism career early. In high school, the sports enthusiast worked at his high school newspaper, The Sidekick, and landed an internship at The Dallas Morning News. Nicoll also played high school basketball.
He enjoys journalism and loves sports. During his last year in high school, Nicoll had to choose between playing college sports or pursuing a career in journalism. Some universities even asked Nicoll to play college basketball, but he chose what he thought was “the most viable option” — a career in journalism.
Nicoll, 21, is an upcoming senior with a double major in journalism and finance at the University of Arkansas. He had worked his way up the ladder from being a sports writer to a sports designer and now editor-in-chief for his college paper, The Arkansas Traveler. Nicoll also interned at The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
His niche was originally in sports, but last year, Nicoll wanted to cover more general news to expand his “journalistic palette.” He also decided to get a finance degree to know more about the economy in terms of business reporting.
“I wanted to write about topics that people actually cared about,” Nicoll says. “I like that I get to have experience in different areas.”
Growing up, Nicoll moved around the southern states, because of his dad’s job as a regional manager for department stores. He was born in Dunedin, Florida, briefly lived in Alabama, went to school in Texas and now resides in Fayetteville, Arkansas for college.
His interest in journalism kindled in high school. During his freshman year, Nicoll took journalism courses for his elective credits. And he enjoyed it. He then applied to his high school paper the following year, and got the job.
“I actually hated my first year (in staff), because I didn’t enjoy giving up most of my time to cover events, so I was going to quit,” Nicoll says, “But my adviser and friends at the paper talked me out of it and eventually, I thoroughly enjoyed (working at the paper).”
He covered a variety of stories such as the death of a high school football player and more. After his junior year in high school, Nicoll got an internship at The Dallas Morning News.
In college, his most unforgettable moment was becoming editor-in-chief for The Arkansas Traveler as merely a rising junior.
His days as editor-in-chief for the college paper are long. Nicoll wakes up early every Sunday to edit about 30 stories and contact editors and reporters. On Mondays and Tuesdays, he goes to the student newsroom in the morning and often doesn’t leave until midnight.
“When Alex was appointed editor-in-chief for the newspaper, I thought it was an unusual choice to get a sports designer to be editor-in-chief but everyone kept saying he was really good,” says University of Arkansas Journalism Professor Rob Wells. “He (Nicoll) has exceeded everybody’s pretty high expectations and does an incredibly strong job as editor.”
The Arkansas Traveler comes out every Wednesday, but as editor-in-chief, Nicoll says he plans to shift the paper to a more digital approach where most stories will publish digitally and one special edition print that comes out monthly.
When he’s not editing, writing or doing homework, Nicoll enjoys watching classic movies from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Nicoll also plays basketball for recreation and often likes to go out hiking and finding a place to set up a hammock to relax.
There’s also one thing that most people wouldn’t expect Nicoll to love — otters. Otters are his favorite animal.
One of Nicoll’s biggest stories was about a high school swimmer who suffered a rare illness. The story was originally intended to be a big project for his sports reporting class, but was later published at The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The story was later picked up by other news outlets and received awards.
“Being editor-in-chief made me a better person, because now, I don’t make any rash decisions in my life,” Nicoll says. “When I’m writing or editing a story, I ask who’s going to benefit from the story and who’s going to get hurt from this. The experience is just such an exhilarating thing.”