Though many know the saying “jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” when it comes to the Tufts Daily, a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ can be exactly what is needed. When the right kind of hardworking person finds their passion at the right time, mastery comes naturally.
Former Editor-in-Chief Alex Viveros has taken on eight different roles over the course of his four years at the Daily. Now a senior, Viveros looks back on the way he devoted his college life to the paper.
As a pre-med biology and community health student with little writing experience, Viveros signed up for the Daily on a whim his first-year fall. When asked what section he wanted to join, he blurted out “Sports,” since it was the one section of the newspaper he really knew.
Viveros almost quit after his first article when he messed up the due date, leaving him to scramble to write the piece at midnight while also studying for a Bio 13 exam he had the next morning. He remembers thinking at the time, “Oh, my God, I’m never doing this again.”
The next day, however, Viveros went to complete his interviews for the article, and found that the experience of getting to interact with the players and the coach was actually fun. He decided to give the Daily one more shot.
One more shot became two more shots, then three, then four, until Viveros was writing a piece every two weeks. Writing for Sports trained him to write fast and meet tight deadlines. Over the course of his time at the Daily, he would always be thankful for the sports section and the skills it instilled in him.
“I think a lot of people that aren’t in the sports section don’t realize how timely it is,” Viveros said. “I had situations where I had a game one night … and we want to [get it] in the paper for the next morning. So I’d have like an hour to write the entire thing and get all my interviews, which is actually incredible training.”
By spring of his first year, Viveros was promoted to assistant sports editor and was responsible for covering football, women’s basketball and men’s lacrosse. Then, in his sophomore fall, Viveros took on the role of executive sports editor, becoming the only sophomore on the fall 2019 executive board. He credits this as one of his most stressful positions over the course of his four years.
“I had to recruit a lot more people because we came in with … like 10 or less writers,” Viveros said. “For sports, when you’re producing like a bunch of articles a day, that’s not enough. So I was kind of scrambling for a while.”
He eventually made it work, and he soon moved up to the position of managing editor during his sophomore spring. Though stressful at first, Viveros eventually hit his stride, loving the work he was doing and truly finding a home in the Daily office.
“When I was managing editor, I was vibing for a while in the office,” Viveros said. “I actually found that I really liked being in the office and I liked the managing editor’s job. I liked jumping from Arts to Features to Opinion to Sports, and editing, all of that was really rewarding.”
All was well until March 10., when Tufts announced it was closing for the remainder of the semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Viveros remembers sitting with the Daily staff, watching the news unfold.
“I just remember we were all in the office in shock,” Viveros said. “But it was like all the gears went into motion … we were like, ‘Okay, we need to write about this.’”
With his biology and community health background, writing about COVID-19 fit right into Viveros’ interests. He had been following the news of COVID-19 since January, and Tufts’ closing was like a call to action, encouraging him to inform the public.
He remembers thinking, “This is what I need to do right now in order to process what’s happening. I need to be here in this office writing about infectious disease and stuff. A lot of the things that the CDC was talking about … it made sense to me, so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m built for this. I’m gonna go, go, go.’”
The pandemic showed Viveros that writing was his calling. He could use his words to help people make sense of the world falling apart.
“I just remember sitting at [my] desk … And I was like, ‘This is what I’m meant to do. This is what I need to do right now,’” Viveros said. “It felt like I was doing something when the world was kind of ending.”
When COVID-19 turned the world upside down, it turned the Daily upside down as well. In the hubbub, the position of editor-in-chief was left unfilled for the incoming fall semester. Prior to the pandemic, Viveros had had no intention of becoming editor-in-chief. By the end of the spring semester, however, when members of the Daily suggested he fill the role, he decided to take it on.
Throughout summer 2020, Viveros and the other members of the Daily’s managing board worked tirelessly to ensure the newspaper’s survival. Viveros noted that Robert Kaplan, the Daily’s fall 2020 business director, went the extra mile to restructure the Daily’s business side in order to keep the paper afloat.
Viveros calls being editor-in-chief “the most stressful thing I ever did in my life and the best thing … I ever did.” In some of the darkest times of the pandemic, running the Daily alongside a devoted managing board and executive board anchored Viveros in something good.
After securing the Daily’s future during the fall, Viveros took a step back to the bare bones of the Daily: writing.
The second semester of his junior year, he worked as a news editor. Viveros was given free reign to write what he wanted, and he credits this time as the most fun he has had at the Daily.
“Honestly, [I] had so much fun just writing about whatever I wanted, breaking stories,” Viveros said. “I was the one that broke that Carm was gonna be gluten-free. I remember the meme pages went crazy and it was so funny.”
Going into senior year, however, it was time to get serious about his own future and the future he wanted for the Daily. After realizing that he wanted a career in writing, he decided to no longer be pre-med and took an internship at Science Magazine in the summer of 2021. There, he saw new ways of running a publication, and as he returned to the Daily as a senior last fall, he brought along new ideas.
Viveros started the science section of the Daily, with the goal of trying out a new way of running a section.
“I started the science section with a different … way of handing in articles, doing pitches, doing edits, stuff like that,”Viveros said. “So, the way we do it at Science is a little bit different than the way the other sections do it. It’s kind of like my little … experiment.”
Viveros also currently wears another hat at the Daily, that of investigative editor, however the details he could share on that front are limited.
“We’re working on stuff that’s more long-form,“ Viveros said. “And that is the maximum amount of details I can give about that.”
On top of all of this, Viveros’ crowning achievement at the Daily is the COVID-19 Dashboard, which he calls his “baby.” Started in January 2021, the dashboard keeps track of the total number of cases on campus, informing the public even when the school does not.
“Tufts doesn’t report how many cases happen per day,” Viveros said. “They never have … The only people [who] know this is basically us because we’ve been keeping track of it every single day for like a year.”
It is important to Viveros to mention that, though he loves writing, there is much about the field of journalism that he’d want to change. Viveros has seen through his own background and family the problems that occur without access to information, whether this be through paywalls, educational barriers or language barriers.
“My biggest thing is there’s been this barrier in terms of … who has access to the right information,” Viveros said. “Whether that’s the way scientific journals are written, whether that’s literally access to scientific journals, you have to pay a lot of money to get all those. We ask people to do their own research, but they can’t, because it’s behind a million paywalls.”
Viveros’ time, leadership and passion have helped shape the Daily over the past four years. Though he has set the Daily on a steady path of progress, he remains modest regarding his immense contributions to the paper. He is constantly thankful for the friends he made along the way and the peers that helped him over the course of his college journalism career.
“I’m a link in the chain that will be the Daily … I feel like I held my job as ‘link’ and now it’ll be onto the next person that’ll be an even stronger link,” Viveros said. “I feel like I helped in its natural progression, but … I really want to highlight that it was the people that worked around me.”