Whatever kind of journalist you aspire to be – reporter, photojournalist, designer, multimedia producer, broadcaster or editor – you’ll need to develop editing skills to succeed.
Editors work for all kinds of organizations on many different platforms (print, broadcast, Web, mobile). The goal of editing is clarity, regardless of platform. Editors help readers navigate through information by distilling messages. Editors work for small and large newspapers, broadcast outlets, magazines, book publishers and newsletters. They hold communication jobs for corporate, academic and nonprofit organizations. Editing skills are valued in public relations and advertising. Regardless of where they work, editors increasingly are responsible for work published on the Web.
In 2011 and 2012, beginning editing students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln interviewed editors from a variety of places to ask them about their jobs, their advice for journalism students and their insight into how journalism is changing. Although the editors the students chose worked in many different jobs, many editors offered similar suggestions.
Their advice included: Read all different kinds of writing, master the basics of usage and grammar, get internships and college publication experience, learn the Web and new technologies, and be open-minded about the future.
Click on the links below to read their reports:
- Don Aguirre, copy writer, Swanson Russell, by Brook O’Neill
- Graham Archer, online sports editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Tanner Westerholt
- Ann Baker, manager of editorial, design and production, University of Nebraska-Press, by Kelsey Baker
- Bruce Baker, city editor, McCook Daily Gazette, by Megan Conway
- Doug Barber, general manager and editor of Washington County Enterprise and Pilot-Tribune in Blair, Neb., by C.L. Sill
- Alan Bartels, field assistant editor, Nebraska Life magazine, by Nicole Rauner
- Debbie Behne, graphic designer, Hain Publishing, by Shelby Wade
- David Brindley, deputy managing editor for copy and research at National Geographic magazine, by Jasmine Rogers
- Karen Brokaw, owner, Brokaw Marketing, by Brennan Andrews
- Linda Bryant, managing editor and publisher, Voice News, by Preston Thiemann
- Bridget Buddenberg, principal designer, Fresh Picked Design, by Hailey Buddenberg
- Tracy Buffington, editor of the Fremont Tribune in Fremont, Neb., by Dustin Hunke
- Dave Bundy, editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Tiler Thomas
- Patty Busse, Oakdale, Minn., Patch editor, by Frannie Sprouls
- Sean Callahan, editor, huskeronline.com, by Cameron Dudley
- Jim Carmichael, NET sports producer, by Dustin Hoffman
- Doug Carroll, editor, NEBRASKAland magazine, by Gene Curl
- Alicia Christensen, acquisitions editor, University of Nebraska Press by Megan Bauerle
- Bill Connolly, retired New York Times editor, by Asha Anchan
- Stuart Courtney, online sports editor, Chicago Tribune, by Kyle Williams
- Chris Cubbison, USA Today trends editor, by Chelsea Stromer
- Bruce Crosby, editor of the McCook Daily Gazette, by Matt Palu
- Stephanie Croston, sports editor, Seward County Independent, by Jacob Imig
- Kwame Dawes, editor-in-chief, Prairie Schooner, by Jenna Jaynes
- Mary Dearen, managing editor of the Midland Reporter-Telegram, by Emily Deck
- John DiBiase, editor of Jesus Freak Hideout, by Francesca Torquati
- Darnell Dickson, sports editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Ross Benes
- Jeff Domingues, assistant news editor, The Denver Post, by Faiz Siddiqui
- Thea Dreisbach, editor of Dirt Road Daughters Magazine, by Emily Taylor
- Leeanna Ellis, online editor at Washington County Pilot Tribune & Enterprise by Sophie Tatum
- Gale Engle, editor at Indian Hills Community Church, by Kathleen Anderson
- Patrick Ethridge, editor, Beatrice Daily Sun, by Jacob Sorensen
- Rick Epps, presentation editor, The Detroit News, by Kelsey Newman
- Mary Fastenau, principal, Anthology Marketing Group, by Caitlin Hassler
- Steve Fredericks, Scottsbluff Star-Herald, by Brett Brown
- Betsie Freeman, features editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Kelsey Haugen
- Cate Folsom, metro editor, Omaha World-Herald by Chris Dorwart
- Chet Fussman, sports editor, Florida Times-Union, by Kollin Miller
- Jonathan García, digital editor for KETV NewsWatch 7, by Ruth Oliver
- Natasha Gardner, digital editor of 5280, a Denver lifestyle magazine, by Sable Holub
- Ted Genoways, former editor, Virginia Quarterly Review, by Ben Kreimer
- Tom Gitter, public relations specialist at Bozell in Omaha, by Josi Orsi
- Nick Goodwin, copywriter, Thought District, by Tiler Grossman
- Sally Gray, copy editor at Marysville Advocate, by Ben Malotte
- Teddy Greenstein, sports reporter, Chicago Tribune, by Ben McLaughlin
- Clark Grell, art director, Lincoln Journal Star, by Alex Lantz
- Joe Gulick, editorial page editor, Lubbock Avalanche Journal, by Sarah Jo Lambert
- Ryan Hamm, managing editor of Relevant, by Lindsey Richards
- Kurtis Harms, executive producer, Market Journal, by Alex Wach
- Jim Headley, managing editor, Fairbury Journal-News, by Paige Comreid
- John Heaston, publisher and editor of The Reader in Omaha, by Cara Wilwerding
- Carly Heitlinger, editor, Levo League, by Margaret Bassett
- Bailey Hemphill, assistant editor, Omaha Publications, by Brittany Schave
- Felecia Henderson, assistant managing editor features and design, The Detroit News, by Brianna Foster
- Todd Henrichs, city editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Liang Xiang
- Shauna Hermel, editor of the Angus Journal, by By Ellen Hoffschneider
- Jane Hirt, managing editor, Chicago Tribune, by Hailey Konnath
- Johnna Hjersman, copy editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, by Kelly O’Malley
- Neil Holdway, news editor, Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, by Adam Kroft
- Roger Holmes, former editor at Fine Woodworking magazine, by Doug Norby
- Margaret Holt, standards editor the Chicago Tribune, by Jessica Gibbs
- Catharine Huddle, assistant city editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Zach Tegler
- Maj. Kevin Hynes, editor of Prairie Soldier and public affairs officer Army and Air National Guard, by Heidi Krueger
- Darren Ivy, publisher, Doniphan Herald, by Heather Haskins
- Josh Jackson, Paste magazine editor, by Brennan Shively
- Kurt Johnson, editor and publisher Aurora News-Register, by Kaci Hixson
- Brady Jones, page designer, Omaha World-Herald, by Alicia Mikoloyck
- Mike Kellams, associate managing editor / sports, Chicago Tribune, by Emily Nitcher
- Ted Kirk, photo editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Kevin Kuehl
- Jane Kleeb, founder and editor of Bold Nebraska, by Shelby Fleig
- Adam Klinker, editor, Ralston Recorder, by Sara Janak and Robert Vencil
- Jeff Knox, senior director of photography at The Daily Herald in Chicago, by Dena Lorenson
- Julie Koch, copy editor, the Lincoln Journal Star, by Sara Hinds
- Mike Konz, Kearney Hub editor, by Abby Schipporeit
- Doug Kouma, managing editor, Meredith Corp., by Morgan Horton
- Shelly Kulhanek, assistant city editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Rebecca Carr
- Marianne Kunkel, managing editor, Prairie Schooner, by Julia Jackson
- Jeff Kurrus, associate editor, NEBRASKAland, by Olivia Johnson
- Patrick Lalley, editor, Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, by Jourdyn Kaarre
- Jessica Lavicky, e-content managing editor, Farm Progress, by Emma Likens
- Thad Livingston, sports editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Teddy Lampkin
- Ruben Luna, associate sports editor, The Detroit News, by Connor Stange
- Tim Lyford, news editor, Argus Leader in South Dakota, by Elias Youngquist
- Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., by Julia Benson
- Buck Mahoney, sports editor at the Kearney Hub, by Sam Peshek
- Jamie May, senior associate editor, BEEF Magazine, by Mollie Wilken
- Don McCabe, editor, Nebraska Farmer, by Melissa Keyes
- Pat McFadden, Page 1 editor, St. Paul Pioneer Press, by Frannie Sprouls
- Terry McHale, California lobbyist and editor, by Michelle Baker
- Terry McKeighan, news editor, Fremont Tribune, by Madison Bell
- Chad Millman, editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine, by Haley Whisennand
- Scott Monserud, sports editor, Denver Post, by Crystal Zamora
- David Moore, executive creative director, Thought District, by Elise Genaidy
- Lyle Muller, executive director of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, by Andrew Ward
- Dawn Needham, deputy news editor, The Detroit News, by Paige Cornwell
- Christopher Nelson, road test editor, Automobile magazine, by Alexander Hall
- Katie Nieland, graphic designer, Chicago Tribune, by Kaitlyn Nelsen
- Andrew Norman, co-founder, director and editor of Hear Nebraska, by Erika Kime
- Brian Norton, online sports editor, Omaha World-Herald, by James Voboril
- Katie Novak, news editor, Burt County Plaindealer, by Jacob Bryant
- Max Ortiz, multimedia producer, The Detroit News, by Emily Walkenhorst
- Crystal Owens, assistant editor, Loudoun Times-Mirror, by Emily Rust
- Amy Palser, managing editor, Hastings Tribune, by Chloe Gibson
- Linda Persigehl, managing editor of Omaha Publications, by Kylie Morrison-Sloat
- Zach Pluhacek, online editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Emily Walkenhorst
- Nick Piastowski, assistant sports editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Connor Schuessler
- Scott Poese, station manager, KBRX in O’Neill, Neb., by Marc Zakrzewski
- R.J. Post, assistant managing editor, Grand Island Independent, by Jacy Marmaduke
- Heather Price, copy editor/page designer, Lincoln Journal Star, by Bethany Schmidt
- Sue Ramsett, news director for KOLN/KGIN 10-11, by Zach Revense
- Anne Raup, photo editor, Anchorage Daily News, by Kaylee Everlee
- Andy Raun, regional editor, Hastings Tribune, by Daniel Buhrman
- Erin Reynolds, project and brand manager, Archrival, by Jonathan Crutchfield
- Guy Reynolds, Willa Cather scholarly edition books editor, by Weston Poor
- Bill Rischmueller , operator of Wakefield Republican, by Daniel Vanderveen
- Linda Rosenberg, director of copy editing at Penguin books, by Morgan Spiehs
- Corey Russman, editor at Sandhills Publishing, by Julia Peterson
- Deb Shanahan, Money editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Michael Bishop
- Nicole Schmoll, freelance copywriter, by Haley E. Barber
- John Schreier, digital news editor at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa, by Hanna Vasina
- Gary Schwab, senior sports editor, Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer, by Gage Peake
- Mark Schwaninger, L magazine in Lincoln, Neb., by Kayla Stauffer
- Kevin Selders, associate editor, Ascend Integrated Media, by Joe Thiesfeld
- Lew Serviss, staff editor, The New York Times, by Carrie Niemeier
- Amber Smith, news producer at KOLN-KGIN 10/11, by Lindsey Berning
- Patrick Smith, online editor at Omaha World-Herald, by Annie Pigaga
- Chip Souza, sports editor of the Northwest Arkansas Times, by Robby Korth
- Larry Sparks, a former online editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Kyle Cummings
- Christine Steele, senior copy editor, The Capital Group Companies, by Gabbi Nicole
- Kathy Steinauer-Smith, features editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Michelle Durham
- Hilary Stohs-Krause, multimedia reporter and online editor, NET, by Margaret Baker
- Colleen Stoxen, assistant managing editor for Page One, Minneapolis Star Tribune, by Angela Hensel
- Ginger Stringer, Web editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, Mo., by Demetria Stephens
- Marissa Tankersley, editor of Drive, by Amanda Schutz
- Rob Taylor, sports acquisition editor, University of Nebraska Press, by Libby Mason
- Ryan Terrell, news editor, Suburban Life, by Margaret Sorce
- Michael Todd, managing editor, Hear Nebraska, by Matthew Masin
- Mike Vandermause, sports editor and columnist at the Green Bay Press Gazette, by John Howell
- Ben Vankat, online editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Anna Gronewold
- Krista Vogel, account manager, Hurrdat Social Media, by Sherene Al-Turk
- Job Vigil, managing editor of the North Platte Telegraph, by Cade McFadden
- Curt Wagner, features editor, RedEye, by Ally Phillips
- Kent Warneke, editor, Norfolk Daily News, by Michael Menish
- Darrell Wellman, managing editor, Nemaha County Herald, by Thomas Shelly
- Metta West, copy editor, Meredith Corp., by Cristina Woodworth
- Kevin Wilkins, editor, of Skateboard Mag, by James Pace-Cornsilk
- Melanie Wilkinson, news editor, York News Times, by Kelsey Baldridge
- Bill Windler, sports editor, Milwaukee Journal Star, by Jake Sueflohn
- Connie White, state government editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Jaime Melton
- David Zenlea, associate editor, Automobile magazine, by Alexander Hall
- Chuck Zimmerman, founder, ZimmComm New Media LLC, by Kristi Block
- Joeth Zucco, senior project editor, University of Nebraska Press, by Jordan Kranse
By Morgan Horton
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Doug Kouma had always been more Bill Nye than Jim Bellows in high school.
If he had pursued his science and math skills, Meredith Corp. would be one down a managing editor and its Special Interest Media would be in desperate need of a master juggler. After all, Kouma and his team produce 115 publications every year.
Kouma has been editing at Meredith for 14 years now, climbing the career ladder rung by rung. Kouma started at Meredith as an associate copy editor. As he worked his way up, Kouma’s job description became less of an editor and more of a self-proclaimed “administrative manager of an editorial group.”
His job duties now are almost as much of a mouthful as the title.
Not only does Kouma manage Special Interest Media for Meredith, but he also handles budgeting, scheduling and tracking. Although a magazine-editing job is 9 to 5, it’s not cushy, Kouma assures.
“A group like this gets two to three publications out of the door … each week,” Kouma said. “We try to touch everything at least four times.”
The real challenge for Kouma is getting each story through his editing group in a timely manner and still giving it the attention it deserves. The editing process must work in harmony like a synchronized swimming team.
A lead copy editor will do the first edit of a piece. This edit is in-depth and hands-on. Next, a second editor reads the piece and sends it off to the content editor. From there, the art department gives it the magazine layout. One more edit follows to catch any final mistakes, and the finely combed story is ready to be published.
“The most important role of an editor is to be an advocate for readers,” Kouma said. “You need someone who can look at the big picture.”
Many times, the big picture for a story is just a snapshot in the photo album of interests that Kouma’s group handles. Specialty publications that fall under the Better Homes & Gardens (BH&G) umbrella touch a wide range of topics. Editors must have some understanding of flower species, cheese specifications and wine details. Kouma and his team use many resources to ensure every term is accurate.
Their offices are stocked with books with titles like “Wine Lovers’ Companion,” “Food Lovers’ Companion” and entire books that outline the trademarked names of roses. In addition to these resources, BH&G has its own stylebook that Kouma works closely with. The style is a hybrid of Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook, mixed with a little BH&G personality.
Before Kouma began working at Meredith, he earned his bachelor’s of journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After a Dow Jones News Fund internship at the Boston Globe, he became the editor-in-chief of the Daily Nebraskan his senior year.
After graduation, Kouma moved to Des Moines as a copy editor at the Des Moines Register. After a little more than two years at the Register, he applied for a copy editing position at Meredith, located just down the road from the newspaper.
“That’s when the language aspect of it really started to set in for me,” Kouma said. “I really started to dig into why we chose the words we choose. Why we choose the style we do. Grammar … all the things copy editors talk about.”
For students looking to follow Kouma’s footsteps, he has a few words of advice. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to ask good questions and be eager to learn.
Kouma said working with BH&G and custom publications on a variety of digital, print and mobile platforms allows for plenty of creativity. The variety of content alone keeps his work fresh and interesting.
“I do enjoy what I do now, but I miss the editorial work and the more creative process,” Kouma said. “Because that’s what we all get in to the business for.”
By Jacy Marmaduke
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
R.J. Post doesn’t know much about construction, but he considers himself a builder.
In his first job at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kan., in 1985, he edited wire content and built newspaper pages, assembling planks of text, photos and advertisements to make a final product.
As a copy editor and education beat reporter at the Garden City Telegram in Garden City, Kan., he built articles from the bricks of quotes, transitions and facts.
As assistant managing editor of the Grand Island Independent in Grand Island, Neb., he oversees the building of a daily newspaper with a circulation of 20,500.
And after more than 27 years in the field of editing, the 1986 St. Mary of the Plains College graduate has built a career.
Every weekday morning at 9 a.m., Post and Managing Editor Jim Faddis meet with the Independent news staff of six and the day-shift photographer around a small table in Faddis’ office. Post runs the show, asking each staffer for updates on his or her stories, giving assignments and providing input.
Then it’s back to his desk, in the thicket of the newsroom, as he spends his day sorting through story ideas, acting as the paper’s liaison with the public and editing content.
If reporters need help, Post is their guy. He’ll stay late to edit an important news story, debate the ethics of a trial with the entire newsroom and ask probing questions of the intern seated across from him.
But don’t call him the leader of the newsroom.
“We’re not a top-down model,” he said. “In a lot of ways, the people out there working the beat are the ones who are really leading what winds up in the newspaper every day.”
An editor must collaborate to be effective, Post said. Otherwise, the newspaper lacks full perspective of what’s going on in the community.
So Post questions his reporters. But he also gives them his trust.
“The editor’s role is to be empowering,” he said. “The way a newspaper functions, the reporters are the storytellers; the photographers are the storytellers. How we all put it together in the paper — that’s all part of how we tell the story. But in a world like mine, it’s empowering them to do the best they can do.”
He said the storytelling aspect of journalism is an important one.
“I think we’re all born storytellers, don’t you?” he said. “It’s a cultural thing. It goes back to primitive man sitting around a campfire. Whether it’s telling the story of what happened to you that day or passing down some kind of oral history. It all goes back to that.”
In nearly 19 years at the Grand island Independent, Post has empowered his reporters to tell thousands of stories. Like the arrest of Grand Island Mayor Jay Vavricek on charges of drunken driving. Like the first and last Keystone XL pipeline public hearing, which took place in Grand Island. Like the 2006 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on Grand Island’s Swift & Co. meatpacking plant.
Throughout it all, he said he stressed that slow and steady wins the race, even as news shifted to online formats and broadcast stations like 10/11 News and KHAS-TV emerged as competitors.
“You try to get things up as quick as you can, but you only print what you know,” he said. “Even if that means you’re running less than the other guy. It’s easy for everyone to reprint the wrong information. So even if everyone is reporting it, if you haven’t confirmed it, you shouldn’t report it.”
To keep up with the quickening pace of news and cope with the journalism industry’s struggles, the Independent has adopted a few tactics: installing a paywall on its website, quickly posting content on the Web and establishing a presence on Twitter and Facebook.
That’s not really Post’s side of the job, though. He prefers to work hands-on with reporters and content. He’s always been that way.
In the ’90s, when he was working for the newspaper in Garden City, Kan., he remembers rifling through dozens of file folders of trash belonging to a charitable organization that the paper suspected of corruption.
Years after he left for the Independent, he heard the paper had proven its suspicions.
“It was nice,” he said, “to know, later on, that I didn’t pick through all that trash for nothing.”
By Michael Bishop
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Like most editors, Deb Shanahan didn’t always see editing as the path that she would take.
A University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism graduate, she has worked as a reporter covering gambling, real estate and education during her 30-year career.
Now the Money editor at the Omaha World-Herald, her regular work day is 9 to 6, barring breaking news. Her day generally starts with reading emails, press releases and online headlines, she said in a phone interview. Next, she works with other editors and a team of reporters planning future stories and editing them. As the Money editor, her section covers some of the state’s biggest corporations such as Berkshire Hathaway and First National Bank.
Although she said she loves many aspects of her job, Shanahan said she’s most proud of her role as an editor in a series called “Omaha in Black and White.” The series focused on the fact that Omaha has the highest percentage of black children in poverty in the nation. The project ran in six installments over two years.
While in college she had an internship with the World-Herald, where she also landed her first post-graduation job. She worked there for a short time before moving to the Arizona Republic, where she worked for nine years before returning to the World-Herald. When an editing position opened, she applied because she liked the idea of working with designers and others on a section.
Not surprisingly, she said, the biggest change in the editing profession during the past 10 years has been the rise of the Internet. Editors and reporters must react quickly to stories and are always on the lookout for breaking news. The World-Herald is an active user of Twitter and other social media forms. Both the paper and the Money section have their own Twitter feeds and Shanahan has her own personal account.
When asked what she sees for the future of the newspaper industry, Shanahan acknowledges that it’s hard to predict. “I would be very rich if I knew where the newspaper would be in 20 years,” she said. But she suspects breaking news will continue to be emphasized online. Traditional print newspapers, she thinks, may become more like feature magazines.
One thing she’s certain of: Students must adapt to new formats. They should, she said, “take classes about technology as this will give them an edge in the future.” Knowledge of such things as Web design and HTML has become more important.
Despite technological changes, Shanahan said, traditional skills remain essential.
“Old-fashioned values will always be the key to good journalist.”
By Annie Pigaga
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
When Patrick Smith first came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he wanted to be a broadcast major. After touring Husker Vision in his first semester, he realized that it wasn’t the right fit.
“A week later, I switched my major to News Ed., and I thought I wanted to be a reporter,” said Smith, now an online editor for the Omaha World-Herald.
Smith went on to be a sports reporter for the Daily Nebraskan for three years. When his senior year rolled around, he received an internship at The New York Times News Service as a copy editor through a highly competitive Dow Jones News Fund program. After realizing how well editing fit him, Smith began copy editing at the Daily Nebraskan.
“My internship went really well, and I had one more semester of school,” Smith said in an interview. “I just kept at it, and have been on that path ever since.”
After graduating in 2005, Smith went on to the Des Moines Register as a copy editor and page designer. He later began work at a private company as a copy editor in Des Moines, but after several years, Smith wanted to move back to journalism. He was hired at the Lincoln Journal Star as an online editor, which later evolved into a sports online editor position.
“I went to the Lincoln Journal Star with almost no online experience,” Smith said. “I learned a lot there.”
Smith now finds himself in a job were the average day is “all over the place.” There are a few routine tasks, but every day means a different job.
“A normal day is five minutes of this, five minutes of that, all day long,” Smith said. “Time goes really fast, and I work with some really fun people.”
When it comes to editing, Smith thinks it’s important that every editor remember certain things:
- “Have that antenna that pops up when something just doesn’t seem right.”
- “Don’t be afraid to look things up.”
- “Ask questions.”
- “Double check.”
- “Put yourself in the readers’ shoes.”
Smith thinks that it is also important to remember that everyone is human. In a 24/7 news cycle, there’s an expectation of having news ready to go at a quick pace.
“We’re pushed to do stuff fast,” Smith said, “and people make honest mistakes.”
These days, social media is something that has to be thought of almost as often as editing. Once something is written at the Omaha World-Herald, Smith has to consider how it could play into social media.
“We’re always thinking ‘should we do something on Facebook about this? On Twitter? Should we try to do a poll? Should we make a Storify?’”
Social media even comes up in budget meetings, where editors talk about how many hits each piece gets online and how many of them came from social media.
With such a change in attitude toward social media in such a small period of time, Smith is unsure of what the future of editing will be like. One thing he is sure of is that editing will still be necessary.
“I think strong editors that have common sense, that are quick and resourceful, are definitely going to be in demand.”
By Kathleen Anderson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Gale Engle didn’t travel the usual path of people who end up as editors.
She didn’t major in journalism. Her first job wasn’t in the news business. But Engle, the editor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, has always had more than her fair share of curiosity.
In an interview, Engle described how she became an editor. She grew up in Minnesota with her parents, three brothers and two sisters. Engle’s parents were both writers, and when she was in college they bought a small weekly newspaper, which they ran together.
Engle said some of her most vivid childhood memories were sitting around a campfire telling stories with her siblings. One person would start and the next person would add a little and on it would go. She said she always thought they could have made a great book out of those stories.
In fifth grade, Engle wrote a play about the Christmas story, which her whole class performed. She received a lot of praise for her work and realized then that she loved to write.
Engle’s passion for writing grew when she entered high school. She took several writing classes and enjoyed writing stories. But she decided to pursue her passion in a field other than journalism. She attended Winona State University in Minnesota, studying to be a paralegal.
“Maybe I didn’t have the proper guidance to go into journalism,” Engle said. “I didn’t know you could go to school to learn how to be a writer. I thought that was just something you kind of naturally knew.”
Engle said she chose paralegal work because she liked investigating. ”You know, going out and talking to people and taking depositions and interviews and figuring stuff out.”
Soon she was offered a job at a newspaper where she did a variety of different things. She was eventually asked to interview people and write stories.
“They were small town, simple stories but they were really fun and I really liked it,” Engle said. She wrote a lot of different stories including one about a farrier, someone who puts shoes on horses.
In 1984 she took a job at Indian Hills Community Church, doing design. She slowly transitioned into more writing and editing and finally became the church’s editor when the previous editor died.
Engle’s job is from the job of a newspaper or magazine editor. She edits newsletters and spiritual booklets. Unlike newspaper editors who deal with strict deadlines, Engle has more time to make sure her work is thorough.
Engle starts her editing process with a transcript from a sermon preached by senior pastor Gil Rugh. It’s normally about 40 pages long. She removes all repetition she finds. She said people don’t mind listening to repetition when it’s spoken, but in writing it is distracting.
Engle then organizes the information so it logically flows and adds examples to illustrate points more clearly. She removes more repetition and then focuses on sentence structure. “Some sentences just need to be turned around … the end of the sentence needs to be at the front.”
After she finishes, she waits a few days and looks at it again with fresh eyes. She then hands the copy off to someone else who edits it and returns it to her. By the time a booklet is finished it will have been edited about seven times.
Engle has always been passionate about communicating through writing. The journey that started in fifth grade has landed her where she never imagined she would be. And she loves it.
By Jonathan Crutchfield
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
When Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere as a part of Red Bull’s Stratos project, Erin Reynolds and her Archrival team, located in Lincoln, Neb., were hard at work with their client.
“We did a lot of the consumer facing and digital content for that, like the live stream and some of the Facebook advertising,” Reynolds said in an interview.
Reynolds, a 2012 University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate with a degree in advertising/public relations, said it was fun to see the Stratos campaign make a huge global impact.
“It’s just really cool to be a part of a brand and a part of these campaigns that are seen globally, and knowing that people like yourself know what’s going on,” she said.
Reynolds is now the product and brand manager for Archrival and works with clients such as Red Bull, HP, Adidas and many more.
Q: How did your career start?
A: I was actually interning at The Minnow Project just across the street, and just did a lot of networking and was involved in pretty much anything you possibly could be in the journalism college and met Clint (Runge, creative director for Archrival) through networking and those sorts of activities. And we basically just started talking, and he offered me a position here at Archrival and I started working here a year ago.
Q: What is your role with Archrival?
A: Since Archrival is a small shop, we have a lot of crossover between creative, brand management and account services, so a lot of my day-to-day is project management for one of our largest clients, Red Bull, and a lot of that includes managing the project scope and working with my internal team here, like designers and developers, to make sure that the project is running smoothly. I create a lot of to-do lists, timelines and budgets; a lot more of mundane work. I’m also a community management specialist, and so I do everything that has to do with Facebook advertising that comes through here, I do a lot of social strategy, particularly for Red Bull and another one of our clients, Oakley. So I guess I’m not a social expert, but more of a social specialist.
Q: What interests you about social media?
A: I think, just my young age. I’m just a digital native, and I was pretty much raised in social media when it started in 2005 with Facebook and it’s just very second nature. Consumers these days don’t have an online/offline experience anymore, and it just completely merges together, and I think it’s fascinating how quickly it has evolved over the past seven to eight years and how it’s so inherent in our daily lives that you can’t ignore it. And it’s just a huge opportunity for marketers and brands, too.
Q: What are some things you think the general public doesn’t understand about social media?
A: I think there’s a lot. We’re really luck here to work with brands that are very much at the forefront of what’s going on and are very on par with trends and what’s hot and what’s not. But it is frustrating to kind of browse through your Facebook or even on TV and to see brands try tie in their social to their standard campaigns. I think a lot of brands that are behind the curve on trends think that Facebook is still king. Whereas, in reality, a lot more of the image and video-based sharing platforms are really at the forefront, such as Instagram – by far the most popular with its demographic – Vine, Videe, Tumblr and those sorts of sharing platforms. Especially with the youth market, when we see brands trying to win over that group on Facebook, they’re generally just not on Facebook anymore because their parents and their grandparents are all over it. And they see it as still necessary to have in their social media “pocket” if you will, but don’t go to Facebook first to share their life experiences. So I guess in general, it’s frustrating to know that a lot of brands are behind with what’s cool and what’s the best vehicle to move your brand forward.
Q: What kinds of changes have you seen social media gone through?
A: One, I think, is more recent than the other. I’ll start with the less recent. It’s the idea of Web esteem and … the fact that social media has become so integrated into our everyday lives. You often see individuals share things that they know will get a lot of likes or comments, or retweets or whatever, and so they are more apt to share those sorts of experiences on their social media to kind of paint this rosy picture of what their lives actually look like. Rather than letting social media be a part of life, they’re so often letting it define who they are and creating a digital identity, so I think that’s really interesting. There’s actually a lot of psych studies out there that revolve around what happens when someone posts something on Facebook and no one likes or comments on it, people suffer real psychological consequences from that, which is mind blowing to know that it’s so engrained in our everyday that it has those sort of effects. And then also, I would say the slow down of sharing that’s happened, especially recently. I don’t know if you’ve heard that the shelf life of a tweet is three hours if it has a link and four minutes if it doesn’t have a link attached to it. I think, especially last year, the influx of information was so rapid all of the time. Right now we’re seeing a little bit of a slowdown and a little bit more discretion when people are choosing to post on social media or tweet or create videos that will actually gain attention and some attraction, rather than just putting out something that was created in two minutes or less.
Q: What are some of your big accomplishments or big projects you are/have been a part of?
A: In undergrad, one of the best experiences for me was I was a part of the original group that started Jacht Club. It’s been really cool to see that grow and evolve over the past two and a half years and to know that I had a hand in the founding. That’s actually opened a lot of doors with networking and with absolutely having to be on top of my game and knowing what’s happening in the industry. Here, in my short time, I do work on Red Bull about 85 percent of the time. When I started last year, I got to be a part of the first Red Bull global air-drop. We’re doing it again actually, but I can’t reveal the date … it was really cool last year to see that make such a huge splash globally and people really loved it and were excited about it. It’s cool that we got to bring it back for year two. I had a little bit of a hand in the Red Bull Stratos, when Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space this last October, and we did a lot of the consumer facing and digital content for that, like the live stream and some of the Facebook advertising. It’s just really cool to be a part of a brand and a part of these campaigns that are seen globally, and knowing that people like yourself know what’s going on.
Q: Do you have any advice for students?
A: I’d say, first and foremost, is to read as much as possible. I know that sounds boring and mundane, but getting in on every industry blog, and even ones that don’t particularly relate to the industry, but something that you’re passionate about. I recommend making that part of your daily practice. Also, if you want to be in social media, you have to play in the game. Don’t just be a sidelines watcher, but get in there and create your own content. Stay on top of what’s cool and what’s not cool and just really demonstrate on your own personal channels, like how consumers like to be interacted with and how social is a real big advantage for brands, and yourself as a personal brand, also. In terms of involvement, I would just really, really, recommend getting involved, not just in the J-school, but also in undergrad organizations in general. It’s really, really true what they say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” You’d be so surprised at what organizations can open what door to which people. Just spreading your network as large as possible is my best advice, I guess.