Paula Squires '76, managing editor of Virginia Business, has been digging for stories for three decades.
"I find there is a story behind every business, and I’ve met some interesting leaders," says Squires. Some of the people on her high-profile list: AOL cofounder Steve Case and hotelier and philanthropist Sheila Johnson. One of her all-time favorite assignments was touring a coalmine in Southwest Virginia with Mike Quillen, the former chairman of Alpha Natural Resources.
As a student, she was involved in the school newspaper -- the Grapurchat -- now known as the Tartan. "As a writer and editor for the school paper, it was thrilling to watch students come by and pick up your work. Seeing this helped convince me that journalism was my calling," says Squires.
After graduation, Squires was hired as a staff writer for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk. "I enjoyed writing features, but I wanted to write about news and be with the action," she recalls. Before leaving the Pilot, she got her wish and covered Suffolk city government. A few years later, Squires joined the Richmond Times-Dispatch where she worked as a staff writer, covering Chesterfield County’s local government, politics, and schools. She also worked in the newspaper’s business news department for several years as a consumer affairs columnist.
Today, Squires enjoys her job at Virginia’s only statewide business magazine. As managing editor, she helps plan and shape coverage of both print and online content. "We do a lot of online stuff now, which is a big change in journalism for me. Just like those Dunkin’ Donut commercials where people have to make the donuts fresh every morning, we have to make the donuts fresh online every day," says Squires. Squires also serves as a contributing editor for Roanoke Business magazine. "This magazine was launched in July of 2012, and we were very excited because it is our first regional business magazine," says Squires.
Being in the field for more than thirty years, Squires has seen trends come and go. "The whole thing about tweeting is new to me, but it is so fun! Writing stories online is easy, but some of the other digital components can be challenging,” she says. One drawback to the new technology, says Squires, is losing that personal connection. "You are only as good as your sources. If you focus too much on tweeting, instead of talking to people, you lose that personal interaction.”
Squires advises young journalists to remember it is all about credibility. "Technology is great, but don't forget about human contact and accuracy,” she says. When it comes to finding a job, she encourages students not to give up and to stay passionate about their dream. "When you really love what you are doing, it will show. Sooner or later it will pay off, just don't get discouraged. You will find your calling just like I did at Radford University.”