In Shaun O’Connor’s line of work, he’s used to hearing “no.” This time he heard “yes.”
O’Connor, the assistant general manager and advertising director of The Alligator, will assume the role of general manager on Jan. 1 after Patricia Carey, who currently holds the role, announced her retirement in August. He will be the third general manager in 71 years. O’Connor has worked with The Alligator since 2009 as an advertising representative.
“It was not a stepping stone, it was an end goal,” O’Connor said.
As general manager, O’Connor said he will continue supervising the advertising department as its director but will also establish relationships with the editorial department and address any external issues.
Shortly after he graduated from UF with a bachelor’s in advertising in 2010, he rose up the ranks to advertising director the same year and then assistant general manager in 2012. As a student, a role at The Alligator was appealing from the very beginning, he said.
“I think our value is the fact that we are a student-run paper in essence and the stories are 100 percent from a student perspective,” O’Connor said.
Although Carey, who said she remembered the days when The Alligator used hot type, a form of printing, said she’s sad to leave after 36 years, she is excited for O’Connor to propel the publication forward with a digital platform.
“He is a hard worker, and he understands what The Alligator is — he’s 100 percent for the students, and he’s 100 percent for independent thinking and independent writing,” Carey said.
O’Connor intends to capitalize on ideas that have already been implemented. He said he wants to continue developing new streams of revenue while maintaining a print product. As long as he’s involved, he said he will not abandon print. Last year, O’Connor said advertising sales in the newspaper increased by 6 percent.
“It’s a vital source of revenue for us, and we want to fight to maintain that, but we’re going to expand what we’ve done,” O’Connor said.
His ideas include selling The Alligator’s digital product through social media management for small businesses and incorporating new revenue streams by monetizing The Alligator’s website, app and newsletter.
Carey said she’s been preparing O’Connor for the job since he was the assistant general manager.
“I can walk away and go ‘thank God,’ there’s someone there who’s gonna give it his best shot and he’s gonna make it work,” she said.
Shaun O'Connor, the new general manager of The Alligator