Meet The AEGEEan’s new big boss: Erika, the new Editor-in-Chief

Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Venezia, is the new Editor-in-Chief of our webzine (online magazine). Very professional, with a tough working experience in the field, she knows how to get the job done, but she also has a heart (or at least she hopes). And she has big plans for her mandate: among others, to get a permanent newsroom in the AEGEE Head-office in Brussels.

The AEGEEan: Dear Erika, you gave so many interviews in the last few months, that nowadays we know almost everything about you. Now, pretending this is not the case, can you tell us something about yourself (that we still do not know – like your favourite colour for socks, for example)?

Erika: Indeed, I gave a lot of interviews (mostly to you, actually), which is odd, considering the fact that I’m used to asking questions. Something our readers may not know… My favourite colour is green. I give names to objects: my car is Alfio, my laptop is Cleto and my mobile is Baby. I am allergic to a long list of foods, but the most dangerous one is chili pepper that gave me two anaphylactic shocks already. So please, organisers, take notes, otherwise you will have to spend some quality time in the hospital with me. [she laughs]

You are the new Editor-in-Chief of the AEGEEan. You started not so long ago, and thus you are making a lot of changes. What is foreseen to be next? What can we expect? Will you try to take over the CD house to be your newsroom by the end of your mandate?

I think that our aim is to take over from our predecessor and try to add our own special touch. I will change something in the website and a soon-to-be launched subsection is on its way. There were some changes in how we organise our work and two new positions (Vice-Editor-in-Chief and Chief-of-Proofreaders), but they were all ideas we had during the project team meeting we held in Brussels back in October, I just put them in action. I will work a lot on the knowledge transfer within the team, because based on my experience, it is what our association needs the most and I aim for a recognition of the work of my journalists. Especially this last point is the more complex, but I hope to end my term at least with some guidelines for my successor.

I never thought about having a permanent newsroom, but indeed it is a marvelous idea. Right now, working online is quite complicated, can you imagine what The AEGEEan can do with a permanent place to work? I will set a Skype meeting with Comité Directeur to organise the moving. They will be delighted, I’m sure.

 What do you think The AEGEEan should be? A webzine meant to inform our members about our organisation, a tool to communicate with externals, or both?

The AEGEEan should firstly be a tool to inform our members on what’s happening outside their locals. We are a wide network and it’s nice to know what other locals are organising, it can be inspirational. The webzine also covers the European Level part and it can be useful to reduce the gap between local and European Level. Unfortunately, we are a niche, except for the Beyond AEGEE section, and it’s hard to be in touch with externals doing so.

Who is in your team now? And for those who will join: what or whom should they be afraid of?

My team… I am very proud of their work and so far I still didn’t express how happy I am with their approach towards the work we are doing. Where should I start? Svenja van der Tol (AEGEE-Nijmegen, European Events and Network Editor) is my brilliant Vice-Editor. We worked so many times together than now she’s basically my little sister. Alfredo Sellitti (AEGEE-Salerno, Beyond AEGEE Editor) with all of his experience is my Jiminy Cricket and he is always reminding me I can be better. Antonija Parat (AEGEE-Zadar, Comité Directeur section Editor) is the ideal link with CD and always very supporting. Katja Sontag (AEGEE-Aachen, People Editor) is extremely professional and a super fast learner. Larisa Smajlagic (AEGEE-Verona, Projects and Working Groups Editor) has a natural gift in doing interviews and her approach towards AEGEE is always an inspiration to me. Sabina Guja (AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca, Chief of Proofreaders) is one of the most consistent and hard working persons I met in this association. Balint Erdosi (AEGEE-Budapest, IT responsible) has the difficult job to deal with my senile knowledge of IT stuffs.

And then my journalists. Anna Gumbau (AEGEE-Barcelona) and Patricia Anthony (AEGEE-Zaragoza), my predecessors and enthusiastic journalists who taught me more than it would seem. Lia Tuska (AEGEE-Sofia) is a super caring and gentle soul with a talent in motivating people. Raluca Radu (AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca) was one of the Key to Europe journalists and we saw her potential immediately. She didn’t let us down and she’s constantly blooming. And Willem Laurentzen (AEGEE-Nijmegen and Anniversary section responsible), one of the few guys we have on the team. I really do love his smart and baroque way to write and he is the right man for the Anniversary section. A special mention to my proofreaders Iliana Koumpli (AEGEE-Thessaloniki), Katharina Krull (AEGEE-Passau) and Maurits Mink (AEGEE-Maastricht). They do a very hidden job, never in the spotlight, but their work is absolutely vital to help us to maintain our high standard. Plus, we have some freelancers who give their contribution, namely Anna Pikhtina (AEGEE-Kyiv), Marije Arentze (AEGEE-Leiden) and Maria Arends (AEGEE-Tarragona).

We are a nice group and after the Open Call we received a lot of valid applicants, who are currently working on their test articles. Who will join should be afraid of my insane worship for deadlines. This causes me to send zillions of reminders that scare people [she laughs], but at the end of the day organising the work of the magazine is my job, so I hope people will understand that I have a heart, too.

AEGEEans have the advantage to have two main information sources: The AEGEEan and the Golden Times. Is there or will there be rivalry between these two webzines or they’re rather focusing each of them on some specific topics?

The rivalry between The AEGEEan and the Golden Times is the urban legend of the association nowadays. Indeed we are the two main information sources, but I firmly believe that it is good. We focus on different topics (even if we sometimes overlap), we have different styles and we have a different approach on the news. In the journalistic world it is very rare to only have one source of information and the fact that our association can rely on two, as I said before, is good because we complement each other. And, why not, some competition is a spur to do better and to learn from what the other is doing better. Moreover, I’m sure we can cooperate to reach a common goal (like we already did during Autumn Agora-Cagliari).

Anything else you would like to add to your interview to make sure that our readers will keep reading The AEGEEan even after this interview?

I’m amused that you are implicitly saying that I will ruin The AEGEEan’s reputation with this interview, but I can assure you that despite the fact that they have me as Editor-in-Chief, all the journalists are very nice and proactive, so don’t be afraid to answer their questions. They don’t bite.

I’d like to add that readers can follow us on Facebook and we still have some vacant positions, you can see them at this link.

Good night and good luck.


Written by Alfredo Sellitti, AEGEE-Salerno