Ask Mikayla Bouchard to describe her job at the New York Times and, well, it’s a bit of a mouthful.
She works with the editing team in vision and how to implement live coverage, and determines how that story is going to be packaged. On the analytical side she’s looking at their audience reach. Recently, she’s been working with reporters on different desks across the company to produce a live briefing every day on the coronavirus. She’s worked with the podcast team and oversees the NYT Politics Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Needless to say, she wears a lot of hats.
“I boil it down to I oversee the digital office,” Bouchard laughed. “It’s a really exciting position that I love because every day is a new topic and I get to work with some of the best and smartest people in the business.”
Bouchard has served as an assistant editor who oversees the Washington D.C. bureau’s digital operation for the last five years. She actually just celebrated her work anniversary, which was a little strange to be doing from her home in D.C., where’s she’s been working from.
During her time at the NYT, she said her job has evolved, as has media in general, which she said has really blossomed in the digital era.
“We’re constantly trying to innovate and stay fresh and to be creative,” said Bouchard, who grew up in Birmingham and graduated from Bloomfield Hills’ Marian High School. “I think the difficulty of digital is it's constant, but the great gift is that it allows you to be nimble and be creative and to do something that fits the story to tell it in the most creative and helpful, immersive way that this era quite frankly allows in a way that it hasn’t before.”
Bouchard said there’s been many projects she’s worked on that have stood out, especially within this year, ranging from the impeachment hearings to a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests.
On live coverage days when she said the adrenaline is pumping, demands for deadlines are down to the second, and there’s just a buzzing in the newsroom. They are some of her longest days, but she loves that sensation.
“I’ve left the bureau at three, four, 5 a.m. and you’re exhausted but there’s a sense of fulfillment that comes along with it and I feel like as a journalist...we are guardians of history, witnesses of history, and we’re there to record it,” said Bouchard, who earned her masters in journalism from Georgetown University. “There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that the day was done well and thoughtfully.”
Her Midwestern roots probably also play a small role in that work ethic.
Growing up in Birmingham, where her mother worked in sales and her father is now Sheriff of Oakland County, and has had a long career in politics – Bouchard and her brothers had parents who prioritized bringing them along their travels and careers.
She was able to see the good and bad of the democratic process from a young age and also realized she appreciated being able to facilitate conversations, both things that served her well while earning her undergraduate degrees in international relations and theater at Michigan State University, and her career in journalism.
Eventually, Bouchard would love to return to broadcast – her first internship was with WXYZ – or do a foreign posting as a journalist. For now, Bouchard and her many hats are content.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff right now in front of me and I’m grateful to be doing it,” she said.