Ashlee Woods made history earlier this year when she became the first Black woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the University of Alabama’s student-run newspaper, The Crimson White.

In an interview with WVUA 23, the rising senior and news media major shared her thoughts on her barrier-breaking role and the importance of diverse voices being highlighted in media.  

The Middletown, Delaware, native said that she is hopeful that her taking on the EIC role will create opportunities for more Black women to lead the paper in the future.

Woods is just the third Black person to hold the EIC position in the paper’s 130-year history. 

“It’s a little bit surprising, but also sad at the same time, because I know there have been talented Black women who have come before me that were more than capable to lead this position, but maybe didn’t have the support that I have had during my time at student media to take on this type of goal and this type of challenge,” Woods said. “Once again, I am just very grateful that it was me. This barrier needed to be broken, so I am willing to break that barrier and I am just super excited. I hope that I am not the last and I want to make sure that I put some practices in place that ensure that I am not the last Black female editor of the CW.”

Bringing Diversity to Campus

Woods is excited to find ways to build diverse voices and perspectives into the paper’s content.

“You really don’t think about being the first of something when you go out to pursue an opportunity that you have,” Woods said. “When I decided to apply, I really wasn’t thinking about that. I  just thought that my track record and my accomplishments in student media were good enough to give me this type of position and a chance to lead the CW. I was just really excited to take this challenge on and to really diversify the content and stories that we are telling at the CW.”

The journalist is also looking to inspire the next generation of young girl creatives who she hopes will stay motivated to follow their dreams.

“Thinking about little girls who are looking up to me is just really crazy,” Woods said. “I really want them to know that their voice is important and their stories that they are writing and creating are very important and necessary to be displayed in media.”

Woods adds that representation in media matters whether people want to believe it or not.

“It really does. You can see it with what’s going on with The Little Mermaid and Halle Bailey. All the little girls are just so excited to have an Ariel that looks like them,” Woods continued. “Representation matters and so I just really want to encourage them to keep writing, to keep designing, to keep taking photographs, because you never know where it is going to take you.”

Before being named EIC of The Crimson White, Woods served as EIC of Nineteen Fifty-Six Magazine, a Black student led magazine at the University of Alabama. Woods was the spring 2021 assistant sports editor and 2021-22 sports editor for The Crimson White. She also served as a fall 2022 intern for Tuscaloosa News.