UC Berkeley junior Harini Shyamsundar was elected Sunday as The Daily Californian’s next editor in chief, or EIC.
Shyamsundar, known around the office as Rina, has worked at the Daily Cal for seven semesters, and she is currently the hiring manager and an assistant social media editor. In the past, she has worked as the university news editor.
Those who have worked closely with Shyamsundar highlight her strengths in terms of organizational and leadership skills, while also emphasizing her approachability and energy. Chantelle Lee, the Daily Cal’s current opinion editor, worked closely with Shyamsundar during their time as news editors together last semester.
Both Shyamsundar and Lee recalled an instance that simultaneously tested them and made them realize the importance of their jobs — when they were news editors together, they reported on more than 100 documents detailing UC-wide sexual misconduct cases.
“It was one of those stories that when I was writing it, I really understood why this profession matters,” Shyamsundar said. “If journalists aren’t holding large institutions and politicians accountable, no one else will.”
Shyamsundar and Lee, along with the other news editors, worked for nearly a week straight, combing through documents, interviewing sources, writing and editing until 4 a.m. — they even slept in the office one night. Through all of this, Shyamsundar did not lose her energy.
“We were physically and emotionally exhausted, but she kept up energy and kept us all going,” Lee said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to write that story with anyone else.”
A cognitive science major, Shyamsundar has spent most of her academic career in the Daily Cal office, and she said that she is considering pursuing a career in journalism.
“Rina has the great combination of really valuing the power of student journalism, but also having a strong grasp of the managerial tasks required of an upper manager,” said Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, the Daily Cal’s managing editor.
During her campaign for EIC, Shyamsundar emphasized increasing readership by creating more consumer-driven content, as well as revamping the website to improve the online experience.
“I’m excited to get a first-hand look at the struggles of surviving as a daily newspaper,” Shyamsundar said. “My platforms are tied to changing our direction to fit into this new age of journalism.”
Shyamsundar is taking over in a time when the fate of print journalism is uncertain. As the Daily Cal moves toward digital-first content, Shyamsundar said she wants to achieve a balance between print and online content. Though Shyamsundar has no plans to cut print, she is prepared to get creative to reach new readers.
“As an industry, newspapers are always innovating in terms of how to reach new readers and create the best experience for their readers,” said Karim Doumar, the Daily Cal’s current EIC. “I think Rina is going to address this in a really effective way.”