Editing skills prove valuable in all kinds of jobs

December 11, 2016 Leave a comment

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.

Since 2011, 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:

Categories: editing, finals Tags: ,

Publisher and editor-in-chief says diverse skills help reporters

December 11, 2016 1 comment
Darran Fowler

Darran Fowler is the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Hastings Tribune.

By Collin Spilinek
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Instead of attending college after his high school graduation, Darran Fowler spent three years working odd jobs at grain elevators and construction sites.

He eventually decided to become a journalist and enrolled in the College of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1987.

“That was always my dream,” Fowler said in a phone interview.

Since 2010, Fowler has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Hastings Tribune, serving Hastings, Nebraska. He’s worked at the publication since 1995.

The career should have been an obvious choice for Fowler, who spent his childhood at the Tribune. His father worked in the printing department for 40 years, operating the press.

“So, I worked part time at the sports department when I was in high school,” Fowler said. “I caught papers off the press and worked in the production circulation area part time.”

Fowler said that later in high school, some of his classmates were having difficulty in deciding what they wanted to do with their lives.

“I’m unique in that I knew what I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to work in a newspaper.”

After graduating from UNL in 1991, Fowler joined the staff of the Plainview News, a weekly newspaper based out of Plainview, Nebraska. It was here that Fowler said he got his first real training in the newspaper business.

“I was a jack of all trades,” Fowler said. “I wrote the stories, whether it was news or sports, I laid out the pages, I attended all the school board meetings, Chamber of Commerce meetings, sold advertising, took the pictures, did all of the negatives, all that stuff.”

Fowler stayed at the publication until 1995, when he returned to the Hastings Tribune to work as a regional editor. After taking the positions of city editor and managing editor, Fowler replaced Don Seaton as publisher, who had held the title since 1974.

An early riser, Fowler usually unlocks the building in the morning and locks it back up at night.

“When I come here, that’s when I plan and prepare for that day’s newspaper,” he said. “And I have a pretty good idea before I even get there what’s going to be in the paper, but then I go through and I check out as far as whether there’s been any developments locally or anything like that.”

Fowler also works on preparing the paper’s newsletter, which is sent out in email blasts. He also reads through the copy and lays out three pages of the paper, including the opinion page.

“And then it’s just making sure that, through the team of people here, that we’re putting things on the app, we’re getting things on the website,” Fowler said. “In a lot of cases, I’m doing that particularly during the odd hours in the evenings or weekends.”

Although he noted the cyclical routine schedule of the paper and the high amount of stress, Fowler said he loves getting to work with other people who share his passion for journalism.

“And no one’s getting rich at it, but it’s in our blood, and this is what we enjoy doing,” he said. “It’s just hard to explain, but I enjoy coming here to work. I find that fun.”

One of the more difficult aspects of Fowler’s position is talking to people in the community about what the paper is to them.

“There may be some perception out there that we’re dinosaurs and we’re dying,” Fowler said. “And I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. We’re actually, more or less, growing.”

In 2011, the paper had a circulation of 9,356 for Hastings, which had a population of 24,907 in 2010, and the surrounding area. Fowler said the internet has allowed the audience to expand rapidly in the past 15 years.

“We are reaching a bigger audience than we were 10 or 15 years ago,” Fowler said. “While they may not always be reading the newspaper, they’re reading it in some fashion, whether it be on their laptop, their desktop, their smartphone or the actual printed copy.”

The paper has tried to use the internet for its advantage for years. In the summer of 2016, Fowler and other members of the paper worked on a phone application for the newspaper. The app is available for both iOS and Android.

“We’re still kicking the tires around on that thing, and we got to do better at it, there’s no doubt about it,” Fowler said.

With different platforms of news available to the public, Fowler said the paper has to work together to decide which information is published online  and what information is put into print. The relationship between print and online almost causes a mini-rivalry within the paper.

“Basically what my approach is, is the website and the newspaper don’t compete against each other, they complement each other,” Fowler said. “A lot of [the decision is] just being smart and what your instincts are.”

The internet has provided small newspapers the ability to break a story and give important or critical information to the public at any time of the day.

But with the rise of fake news on social media outlets such as Facebook, Fowler said he wanted the paper’s online presence to reflect the trust gained from the print version. Having a dedicated team of reporters do all the work themselves is one way to gain this trust.

“I guess that speaks volumes about the credibility of newspapers and their websites,” Fowler said. “We still practice the basic fundamentals of good journalism through solid writing and solid editing.”

Fowler also said it’s critical for newspapers, especially smaller ones, to hire people with a variety of skills, including photography, writing for different sections, editing and layout and being able to work with technology.

“That’s how it’s really changed, and as far as I’m concerned, at an operation like ours, a small daily newspaper, those people that have that kind of a skill set are very valuable,” Fowler said.

When it comes to editing skills, Fowler said it takes years of practice, but the more you read and write, the better you’ll be at editing. He also suggested reading stories over in the eyes of the average reader.

“If I have to go back and read a sentence or paragraph a second time, one, I either got distracted, which often times [may] be the case, or there’s something wrong with it that I had to go read it again to understand it,” Fowler said. “At that point, I’m the reader, and so I don’t want the reader to have the same experience.”

The Hastings Tribune has a role to serve in the community, and Fowler believes having these skills will help fill that role.

“And there’s no replacing just good, solid journalism,” Fowler said. “We’re not The New York Times or The Washington Post, but we cover things in Hastings and our surrounding area just as aggressively as they cover the national news.”

Categories: finals Tags: , ,

First music, then media, now motherhood for Carrie Malek-Madani

December 11, 2016 1 comment

By Amy Svoboda
University of Nebraska- Lincoln

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Carrie Malek-Madani is communication coordinator at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. (Photo courtesy of Malek-Madani.)

Carrie Malek-Madani will return to her position as communications coordinator at the Lied Center for Performing Arts with a new title under her belt: mother.

Malek-Madani is enjoying maternity leave with her newborn daughter, Eleanor, but in February the new mom will resume the position she has held for more than three years.

Malek-Madani is swapping her daily tasks of writing press releases, pitching to reporters, responding to patron inquiries and formatting mass Lied emails for changing diapers and a demanding around-the-clock bottle feeding schedule. Both are daunting tasks, but Malek-Madani has a much longer history in public relations than in parenting.

After graduation from the University of Colorado, her first job was a paid internship at SSPR, a public relations firm based in Chicago with satellite offices all around the country. The internship developed into a full-time job, where Malek-Madani represented companies as renowned as Patagonia and Groupon, but working with for-profit companies was not what she had envisioned for herself.

Working with a non-profit like the Lied Center is “the perfect fit” for Malek-Madani. It is close to her home state of South Dakota, plus the performing arts are something Malek-Madani has always adored. She grew up singing, dancing and playing musical instruments.

“My position at the Lied Center provides a perfect marriage between my personal interests and my professional skill set,” she said.

Working for a non-profit has its drawbacks too, like the limited resources because of a strict budget and tight time constraints. She says the Lied could benefit from more time to evaluate the products it is producing, but that is not always possible in such a busy industry.

“We are rarely afforded time to debrief,” Malek-Madani said.

The communications coordinator is working on her master’s degree from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln just down the street from the Lied Center.

She has a brief history with journalism, having worked for several small newspapers while in college. Now she focuses on building relationships with reporters who could earn the Lied Center future media coverage.

Malek-Madani says that developing relationships with reporters, other non-profit and arts organizations, artists and management teams is the most important skill required for her job.

“I think a lot of communicators don’t understand what powerful skills making a first impression, connecting with people and being kind, likable, positive and memorable are,” she said.

Editing plays a vital role in Malek-Madani’s career too. She regularly edits content for playbills, promotional materials, fundraising materials and articles about the Lied Center. She also proofreads all communication to donors, whose generosity helps run the non-profit. She even reviews important emails that Lied Center executives want a second opinion on.

“Always, always, always get a second pair of eyes on everything,” she said. “It is easy to miss the same mistakes over and over when you are close to a project.”

As for the evolution of the communication field, Malek-Madani says she has noticed drastic changes already in her relatively short career. She believes there are going to be increased expectations for PR professionals to have journalism skills  because of editorial and writing staffs decreases. She said numerous media outlets have asked her to cover the Lied Center for them because they are short-staffed, even asking for help with photography and videography.

“Media outlets may not have the manpower to cover an event but will gladly accept and publish our materials, provided they are editorial quality,” Malek-Madani said.

When asked if editing really does matter, she eagerly exclaimed that “it’s everything,” adding that it greatly shapes the way the public views the Lied Center.

“I am hypercritical of organizations that don’t take the time and care to perfect their donor and marketing materials. It’s not difficult, it just takes time and attention to detail.”

Malek-Madani compares PR to being a new mother, saying both are around-the-clock jobs. She admits that she often put her career before personal time with family and friends, but hopes that baby Eleanor will help balances out her priorities.

“I hope to be an excellent example for Eleanor of someone who can simultaneously manage a rewarding career, marriage and motherhood.”

Being a know-it-all makes a great editor: Schreier and his many hats

December 11, 2016 1 comment
schreier-mug-1

John Schreier is the managing editor of The Daily Nonpareil. Photo courtesy of John Schreier

By Hannah Pachunka
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The hours are crazy. The pay is low. Little credit is given. But journalists do what they do because they have passion and curiosity.

That’s true for John Schreier, the managing editor of The Daily Nonpareil newspaper in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Growing up, Schreier wanted to write novels. While attending Papillion La-Vista High School, his interest in journalism sparked.

The excitement and varied experience drew him in.

“That’s what keeps me coming day in and day out; I would never not want to be a journalist,” Schreier said during an interview at his office.

As a 16-year-old, he was one of the few teenagers reading a newspaper every day. He said he was a know-it-all growing up, and that is what an editor needs to be.

“Being in charge, you need to wear a lot of hats,” Schreier said. Editing is not the only duty of the managing editor. Schreier needs to be able to jump around, knowing where and when he is needed.

This job is perfect for him because he didn’t want to be working at a desk all day. Working in a newsroom means there are no typical days in the office, and he loves that.

Schreier’s path started with his internships in Hastings and Sutton after he sent out applications all over Nebraska. He later earned an editing internship at the Denver Post through  Dow Jones and then eventually a job at the Omaha World-Herald. Unfortunately, being a morning person and working a 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift wasn’t going to work out for very long. He moved to a weekly paper, owned by the same company.

Schreier initially thought that he would be a sports reporter. The opportunity never arose for that; however, many others did.

“The path to get where you want to go is not a straight line; mine was a very jagged line,” he said. For Schreier, this was not a bad thing.

Schreier was working in Papillion when his boss took a position at The Daily Nonpareil. Schreier started in the online department there after his former boss told him about the job opening. He worked his way up to the managing editor position.

His passion is talking to people and telling their stories. Schreier understands that the reader needs to be come first because journalism is nothing without them.

As managing editor, he answers complaints from readers. One day he received a phone call from an upset woman who found errors in the crosswords. Schreier felt like he let her down. He said journalism isn’t about the journalists and what they do — journalism is about the readers.

These days, reporters and editors must do more than just edit. When both of Schreier’s photographers are busy, he sends a reporter to take his or her own photos. He said being versatile is important.

Versatility also relieves tension in the newsroom. Lack of experience in reporting can cause difficulty for a copy editor. Having an understanding of each position in the newsroom helps the team be more successful.

The newsroom needs to be a coherent team that works together. He knows his team has his back. Having connections and friendships in the newsroom makes the process much easier.

“Journalism is an art and a science,” Schreier said. Strong writing skills mean nothing with poor research skills — and vice versa.

Schreier is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the journalists on his team. If a journalist lacks in one skill, he coaches and works with him or her to create work that is valuable to readers.

Just in the five years since Schreier graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, journalism’s pace has sped up. The focus is shifting to online news.

Schreier had to use online resources to learn web coding to do more for the online paper. Web coding is a skill he wished he focused on a little more before his position. He used MySpace as coding practice.

Schreier said a reoccurring challenge for posting online news is figuring out how to stand out because readers have so many options to get their news.

“I don’t know what it’s going to look like next year, let alone in the next 10 years,” Schreier said when asked what media will look like in 10 years. His two predictions for the future are that information will come from more diverse sources and news will be free. He said people don’t want to pay for news when it’s so easily accessible for free.

Often people forget that journalists are normal people with interests and opinions. Schreier has had upset readers accuse the paper of leaning too far in one political direction.

“I don’t hate your candidate. I don’t hate your team,” he said when asked what people should know about his job.

He pointed to his Cubs pennant hanging on the wall in his office and talked about how he has his own favorite teams and political stance, but that is all put aside in the newspaper. His team tries its best to be fair in reporting.

Schreier would advise any up-and-coming journalists to find their niche. He says it’s important to be well-read, persistent and prepared to hear ‘no’ more than ‘yes.’ Aspiring journalists need to be prepared for constant change.

When Schreier is hiring, he looks for someone who is hungry for journalism. Journalism is challenging and not for everyone.  Those who succeed are dedicated and passionate to find the truth for the readers.

Multimedia professor offers advice to next generation of journalists

December 11, 2016 Leave a comment

Octavio Kano-Galvan is a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He helps students grasp the concepts presented by different mediums such as video, photography and text. Before becoming a teacher, Kano worked as a photographer, cinematographer and camera operator. In this short video interview, Kano talks about his experience and offers advice for students.

Octavio Kano-Galvan

Categories: finals Tags: , ,

TV producer’s love for broadcast journalism job surprised her

December 11, 2016 1 comment

By Jordyn Henry
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lorena Carmona never imagined a career in journalism. As a young girl, she wanted to be a doctor.

But after she came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she discovered she was good at journalism.

lorena-carmona-newpic

Lorena Carmona

Now, she is a morning producer for NBC Nebraska in Hastings and loves her job. In Carmona’s final year of college,  she worked on “Star City News” where a broadcasting professor told her she would be great as a producer. That led to taking a chance on her job in Hastings after graduation.

“I didn’t expect to like it; I didn’t expect to do it,” she said. “At first it was hard because I had very little training.” But the TV station saw her potential.

Although Carmona majored in journalism not broadcasting, she made the transition work.  Carmona used the differences  to her advantage.

The writing styles are different. Broadcasting has a more informal, conversational tone, but you must self-edit and that’s where journalism’s writing skills come in handy. Fact-checking and accuracy are critical.

Being the producer of a show is like being the editor for a newspaper or magazine, trying to figure out what the audience likes and dislikes.

“People don’t see who I am,” Carmona said.  “I get to put it all together and I get to figure out what people really enjoy from the show. People see the anchors and meteorologist, but there’s a lot of putting stuff in and rewriting so people can relate to them.”

The best part of journalism to Carmona is dedication to the facts. “When you’re able to get the facts,” she said, “find story that nobody else found,  or help others find a reason to care, that’s what’s so great about journalism.”

Carmona’s passion for the job comes through in her work.

Carmona has been at NBC Nebraska for three years. She expects to stay longer because she enjoys what she does. She’s in no hurry to leave.

“When it comes to this industry you see people start small and then they move up big,” she said. “No matter what job you get, just keep learning. Even if you’re not a fan of it, see what else is in that field. Who knows what the future holds?”

Categories: finals Tags: , ,

KRVN news director evolves with a changing radio industry

December 11, 2016 1 comment

By Bryce Doeschot
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

 

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Dave Schroeder is the news director for KRVN. (Photo courtesy of KRVN)

Growing up near DeWitt, Nebraska, Dave Schroeder was always interested in journalism.  Each evening, he read one of the newspapers that his parents’ subscribed to or watched the nightly news. Sometimes both.

He combined two of his passions and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with majors in general agriculture and broadcast journalism.

After college, Schroeder found a job at one of Nebraska’s largest radio stations, KRVN, located in Lexington, Nebraska, with a signal reaching regions of Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.

“KRVN had an opening as an overnight announcer and I did that for five years before advancing to an evening news shift, then I moved to an afternoon news shift and three years ago I began serving as news director,” Schroeder said in a phone interview.

As news director, Schroeder begins his day with a cup of coffee while speaking with the other employees to discuss current events around the coverage area.  His day quickly picks up while reviewing coverage plans for the two full-time and one part-time reporters that he oversees.  In addition to overseeing the newsroom, Schroeder also has a midday newscast shift and he gathers news from around the community, state and nation.

“Each day, it seems like we produce more stories than the day before, so it is a challenge to constantly stay on top of everything,” he said.

The newsroom at KRVN has changed dramatically since he first joined the team 1987.

“When I started out in radio 29 years ago, it involved a notebook and a pen, as well as a recorder.  Today, as technology has evolved, so has the way that our consumer gets the news,” Schroeder said. “It is not just a matter of putting stories together for the air anymore, but also in the other formats that our consumer uses such as Facebook , Twitter and Youtube.”

Because of the changing radio industry, Schroeder said there is a great opportunity for journalism students interested in the broadcast industry.

“Radio is a very viable career that is constantly evolving to include more technology,” he said.  “There is a need for journalists in this industry.”

Schroeder offered advice for any student interested in getting into the radio industry.

“Contact radio stations and see what opportunities they might have to job shadow, do an internship and then seek the proper education,” he said.

Although the radio industry is constantly changing, Schroeder said that he loves his job at KRVN.

“I never wake up not wanting to go to work.”