Ashlee Woods named editor-in-chief of The Crimson White

Delaware native Ashlee Woods becomes the first Black woman in the Crimson White’s history to hold the editor-in-chief position.  

Jeffrey Kelly, Managing Editor

After serving in multiple positions at The Crimson White and as the current editor-in-chief of Nineteen Fifty-Six Magazine, Ashlee Woods, a junior majoring in news media, will take over the helm of The Crimson White beginning in May.  

“Ashlee brings a wealth of experience to the position,” said Monique Fields, the Office of Student Media’s associate director of editorial and The Crimson White’s advisor. “Ashlee envisions a student-run newspaper that serves the campus and the surrounding community, and she will leave an indelible mark on it. She has a bright future ahead of her, and I look forward to working with her as a student journalist and colleague.”  

Initially, Woods started her collegiate career in 2018 as a political science major set on law school and potentially a presidency.  

It wasn’t until she decided to take the spring 2020 semester off that she switched to news media. Then in May 2020, Woods found her footing at The Crimson White as a sports staff reporter. 

Her talent for writing and her gift for talking about sports — which she’s nurtured from a young age by arguing with her brother so much that her mother told the siblings they should start a podcast — allowed her to flourish quickly.   

Woods served as the spring 2021 assistant sports editor and 2021-22 sports editor, where she continuously made her mark in the collegiate sports work, appearing on the Paul Finebaum show six times, covering sports for the Tuscaloosa News as a fall 2022 intern, and training and recruiting contributing writers and her CW successors.  

“All the sports writers admired Ashlee, and it was a testament to her natural leadership,” said Keely Brewer, the CW’s 2021-22 editor-in-chief. “She created a newsroom environment that made her writers want to put in long hours of hard work for the betterment of the paper, and I know she’ll do the same as editor-in-chief.”  

Woods’ natural leadership skills have shined not only at The Crimson White but at Nineteen Fifty-Six Magazine, too.  

Ta’Kyla Bates, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a depth study in social justice narratives, who currently serves as Nineteen Fifty-Six’s managing editor and will serve as the editor-in-chief in the fall, said the past two semesters working alongside Woods have been meaningful.  

“Her passion and dedication to the Nineteen Fifty-Six have been nothing less than inspiring. She truly is an amazing leader and has left a mark on the whole editorial staff at Nineteen Fifty-Six,” Bates said. “As the next editor-in-chief of Nineteen Fifty-Six, I can say Ashlee has prepared me for what’s to come, and I am very appreciative of her leadership skills and the things she’s taught me along the way.”   

Along with her leadership skills, Brewer said Woods is an incredible writer who’s made sports stories not only enjoyable but accessible to a broad audience, and she can’t wait to see Woods’ editing extend to the rest of the paper.  

Woods has won multiple awards for her writing prowess, including the UA Student Media Planning Board’s 2022 James E. Jacobson award for writing and fourth place sports game story in the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker for “2022 Story of the Year,” an award which Fields said she wasn’t surprised to see Woods win because she has a strong writing voice.  

Woods has also gained experience beyond sports and the Office of Student Media with her summer 2022 internship for the Birmingham Business Journal.  

With all these experiences in tow, Woods said she’s excited to start and take The Crimson White into the future.  

“I think the CW is doing great things, but I think we can also be better, and I always want us to be better,” she said. “I want to challenge us to grow.”  

Woods said she wants to do everything in her power to ensure everyone who works with her can walk away from their time at The Crimson White prepared for whatever may come their way.  

She said she’s also excited to continue the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that Rebecca Griesbach, the CW’s 2020-21 editor-in-chief, started in 2020. Griesbach’s desire to include more diverse sources and implementation of the race and identity desk, created with Masthead, an alumni group that focuses on promoting an inclusive environment for UA student journalists of color, inspired some of Woods’ own diversity, equity and inclusion ideas.  

“When we started doing this work, we wanted to ensure it was sustainable and would live on after we left. I’m overjoyed to hear that Ashley wants to strengthen those efforts and make them better,” Griesbach said. 

One of Woods’ ideas has already been enacted with the addition of the diversity, equity and inclusion chairperson to the Crimson White’s editorial staff. The chairperson will be responsible for “creating and implementing diversity and inclusion practices at The Crimson White” and will work closely with Woods to further her DEI goals at the publication.  

“I’m really challenging anyone that becomes an editor under me to really think about every story that is possible that we can tell, and every way that we can possibly tell it, because diversity in media is not just about who’s telling the stories, but what kind of stories we’re telling and how we’re telling the stories,” Woods said.   

As the third Black person to serve as editor-in-chief of The Crimson White and the first Black woman in the publication’s 129-year history, and a Black woman in sports media, Woods understands the importance of diversity in media.  

She said being the first of anything “is such a wild thing to think about,” and she was a little apprehensive of what would come with breaking that barrier. However, after a conversation with her parents where her mother told her that she was meant to do this, Woods decided that when the opportunity arose, she’d take it.   

“When you think about it … being a woman in sports has prepared me for this moment because everywhere I go, there’s people that don’t look like me,” she said.  

Woods said that as the first Black woman to serve as editor-in-chief, she hopes to not only break the barrier but set a precedent that people who look like her can be leaders in media because Black women and their perspectives are needed in these spaces.  

“I hope that my time as editor shows people that Black and marginalized communities’ stories are so important,” Woods said. “We also need Black and minority leaders leading the call telling those stories.”  

She said her trajectory through each publication has taught her that the stories that are being told need to be handled with care and nuance.  

“These are not just subjects of the stories that we’re covering. These are human beings with real human experiences and feelings and thoughts,” Woods said. “And as journalists, we must understand that these people read these stories, and they want their stories to be correctly told.”’  

She said no matter what story she’s writing, she approaches it with care and nuance because that’s what the reader and the people interviewed deserve.  

And now as she sits in The Crimson White’s driver’s seat, preparing to take the publication on a new journey, Woods is confident that this upcoming school year will be a good one.  

“Ashlee has shown herself to be deeply passionate about student media,” said Bhavana Ravala, the CW’s current editor-in-chief. “The Crimson White will undoubtedly have a landmark year under her leadership, and I am eager to see what she accomplishes.”  

For the paper itself, Woods said she wants Crimson White contributors and those interested in contributing to know that their voices and stories matter even if they don’t think they do. Initially, she didn’t always believe her stories or voice deserved to be heard, but she urges everyone to “take that leap” like she did.  

And for readers of The Crimson White, Woods only asks for continued engagement with the CW, because she has big plans for the year.  

“For our readers, thank you for reading, and I just want you all to stay tuned because I think the CW could do something really special come the 2023 school year,” she said.