Our Alumni & Public Relations Officer Jack Harvey caught up with The Yorker‘s News Editor 2015-2016, Laura-Autumn Cox, now a Senior Staff Writer at D/SRUPTION.
Laura studied for a BA in History 2013-2016. She was a member of the History society, part of the fencing team that competed in the 2016 Roses tournament and a regular team member of The Yorker. Still living in York, today she writes for D/SRUPTION, a business and technology website, having contributed articles part-time during her studies.
“I’m a writer,” says Laura-Autumn Cox, The Yorker’s News Editor 2015 – 2016. “For me, it’s compulsive: I have to write.” Through her experience of journalism during her studies at York, it became Laura’s driving ambition, as well as her favourite pastime, to write and, like many alumni of The Yorker, it’s something she now does for living.
Laura arrived at the University of York in September 2013 to study History, her academic passion. During her studies Laura met “some amazing people,” many of whom are her close friends today. The main thing she learned from her academic endeavours, Laura believes, was how to manage her time well. Efficient use of her time improved her self-motivation, her organisation and her drive to accomplish her goals.
Outside of lectures, Laura tried her hand at many new things. She took up weightlifting; she was a Second & Third Year Contact (STYC), welcoming and supporting new college members in their first week of studies; and she joined the History Society, meeting and socialising with fellow History students. Laura also became part of the University of York’s fencing team, eventually representing York in 2016 for the annual Roses tournament against Lancaster. “We didn’t do fantastically well,” Laura remembers, “but being able to play a sport that I’d loved for so long in front of a crowd with a team of people I hadn’t known for very long” was an unforgettable experience.
In her second year at York, Laura decided to try writing for a student publication. After looking at the University of York’s array of student media, she settled on The Yorker, taking a shine to its independence from the students’ union and its smaller scale than other publications. “Editorial integrity is really important to me,” says Laura, “and that’s something The Yorker has because of its independence.” Starting as an opinion writer, Laura enjoyed the freedom to offer her thoughts on so many subjects. Like several writers, Laura valued The Yorker’s commitment to expression free of political bias and censorship from the students’ union.
Laura took up the post of News Editor between 2015 and 2016, heading the section under the editorship of Alexandra Nawrat. Laura was responsible for leading The Yorker’s news coverage of goings-on in the City of York and on campus. Laura recalls one moment when a story unfolded in front of her. At a Pride Night in 2015, held in the Roger Kirk Centre, the testy comments of an opinionated drag queen led some disgusted students to set the fire alarm off in a bid to oust the queen from the stage. Watching the queen’s act from the audience, Laura took the opportunity to report from the scene, interviewing fellow audience members and representatives from student societies. Laura faced a challenge with which many student journalists are familiar when she discovered that the student suspected of triggering the alarm was someone she knew well. That night, Laura remembers, taught her the importance of fair and impartial reporting and the need for a good journalist to balance friendships and loyalties with a commitment to reporting the truth – as well as offering a welcome chance to report on something more exciting than which college had won the football match that week!
From the outset, rather than joining an established group like Nouse, Laura wanted to be part of a smaller, younger group to make a real difference to its growth and success. Sometimes, Laura remembers, it was an “uphill slog,” as The Yorker never benefitted from the regular promotion that the students’ union gave its ratified media, making it harder for The Yorker to have a clear presence on campus. But while Nouse and York Vision were better known on campus, at The Yorker, Laura believes, writers had real opportunities to find their voices. Laura appreciated the freedom to contribute to each and every section of The Yorker’s journalism, including a print magazine, at a pace that worked for the individual writer. Editors of other media risked letting their newspapers dominate their university lives; Laura remembers that The Yorker always gave its team members space to breathe and pursue other projects without the need to “sign your life away.”
Still a resident of York since her graduation in 2016, Laura is now the Senior Staff Writer at D/SRUPTION, a media company that explores technological changes across markets and how businesses can turn such innovations and evolutions to their advantage. Just as she enjoyed helping The Yorker grow over time, she is happy to have been part of D/SRUPTION over the last few years as it has expanded and gained a greater presence in the business world. Writing part-time for D/SRUPTION was another of Laura’s pursuits during her academic studies; it was a joy to receive an invitation to become a full-time member of staff after she graduated, not least because Laura had concluded that, of all the things she had done and experiences she had enjoyed at university, it was writing that was her calling.
In addition to reporting on business and tech for D/SRUPTION, Laura has authored a number of e-books. Elsewhere, besides frequently dropping by the gym, Laura volunteers for Battle Scars, a Leeds charity offering pastoral support to people who self-harm. Supporting mental health is a cause close to Laura’s heart, prompting her to get a Mental Health First Aid qualification; mental health workers “are so important yet don’t get the recognition they deserve,” she says.
Though she holds a senior editorial position in a growing business, doing something she loves, Laura insists that it’s all down to luck – “and I remember it every day.” But those who worked with Laura at The Yorker would remember her as a skilled, hard-working member of the team who helped the company grow; her success is much-deserved.
This interview was taken from our monthly Alumni Newsletter. If you are an alumnus of The Yorker and would like to be added to the mailing list please contact Jack at email@example.com.