By Carolyn Willis
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Whitney Runyon is anything but a typical editor. The co-founder of the media missions nonprofit The Archibald Project lives in Uganda, miles from the nearest AP Stylebook and yards from dire poverty.
“Living in poverty affects everything in your life, more than just the way you work. It makes us desire justice and truth to prevail,” Runyon, 30, said.
This desire distinguishes the mission of The Archibald Project from that of other media organizations. Rather than using media to share news and collect advertising revenue, The Archibald Project produces photographs, videos and blog posts to educate and inspire people on orphan care.
While Runyon admits that living and working in Uganda is difficult, she said the hard work is worth it because the world’s 132 million orphaned and abandoned children are worth it. She endures the crowing roosters, singing insects and slow Internet speeds because she understands that the stories she shares can jolt people into action.
During a Feb. 24 FaceTime interview, Runyon and her husband Nick Runyon, 31, sat in their round Ugandan cottage and discussed how The Archibald Project’s mission statement and Runyon’s personal desires guide the curation of content on its website, blog and social media platforms.
Runyon said that content on a nonprofit website is fundamentally different from that of an online news publication. “We want to cover stories that we are passionate about,” Nick Runyon said. “The quality and the depth of the story matters more than how many clicks it gets.”
At times, this means presenting material that is difficult to digest. One adoption story follows the Stewarts, a family whose previous nine trips to Haiti had yet to result in processed papers or welcome home signs for their son Kelly.
These trips always ended with Kelly being taken back to the orphanage, according to The Archibald Project. Runyon said she posts these stories because though they are hard, they are the truth.
She said she hopes that The Archibald Project can help rally individuals around all types of orphan care.
“We use our media to educate people on things they do not know about,” Runyon said.
This includes writing about the messy realities of stubborn governments and denied visas. Kelly’s story did not end with the first video. In September 2013, the Stewart family arrived home from the orphanage for the thirteenth time. This time, Kelly was on the flight. According to The Archibald Project, the newly reunited family was welcomed home by the roar of an enormous crowd.
Telling stories such as Kelly’s was not Runyon’s first job after college.
The University of Texas- Austin theater and dance major was developing a successful career as a wedding photographer after graduation, but she itched to care for those without parents in tangible ways.
Her journey to founding and editing for The Archibald Project began in 2011, when Runyon felt called to document a client’s adoption of a Bulgarian child named Archie. The adoptive family has chosen not to share Archie’s previous surname.
“It was one of the clearest moments. I felt the Lord say, ‘You’re supposed to go to Bulgaria and photograph Archie’s adoption,’” Runyon said.
Nick Runyon’s aviation job provided cheap airfare and Runyon’s passion for photography made the trip feasible. Upon returning to the United States, Runyon released photos of Archie’s homecoming on her personal Facebook page. A Texas family saw the post and felt stirred to adopt an HIV-positive Ukrainian orphan.
Runyon documented this adoption as well. This time, she posted the photos on a public Facebook page she named after Archie, The Archibald Project. The page accumulated 500 followers overnight. “People just kept sharing it,” Runyon said. “People were emailing us saying, ‘Hey, can you come photograph our adoption?’”
Runyon moved to Uganda in January 2015 to avoid flying between America and Africa every few weeks. The move made sense for the work she anticipated.
The structure of Runyon’s workday varies depending on her current project. Some days are spent snapping photos in the field. On others, she spends time on her computer answering emails, blogging and making connections via social media with adoptive families and other orphan care related nonprofits.
She said she also spends time editing photos and incorporating them into her blog posts. Runyon fashions the orphan care stories to suit various platforms and audiences. The blog contains long-form posts and guest posts from individuals who mirror the heart of The Archibald Project.
Millennials and time-crunched individuals may be more likely to keep up with the nonprofit through Instagram, Facebook and Vimeo. “Instagram is where our main audience is, but we’re trying to give more love to Facebook,” Runyon said.
While Runyon said she is not concerned with specific analytics or impressions on social media, she understands that she has a responsibility to use those platforms to their greatest potential. “We want to run The Archibald Project like a business,” Runyon said. “We want it to succeed and do well.”
Like many for-profit corporations, The Archibald Project’s Instagram account often features giveaways that attract traffic. In February 2015, users were invited to share one of the nonprofit’s Instagrams with the hashtag #TheArchibaldProjectGiveaway for a chance to win a tank top or a necklace. Giveaways such as these allow individuals to discover the nonprofit, increasing the number of people who could donate.
The Archibald Project is funded by donations. The Runyons ask for donations to fund their living expenses through an online fund called Support The Runyon’s.
Runyon was quick to admit that running the website brings far more challenges than overseeing the social media accounts. She said that her lack of coding knowledge has led to many Google searches and YouTube tutorials. “There are so many things I want to do, but I just don’t have the knowledge,” Runyon said.
Despite the lack of technological support, Runyon is optimistic. For her, hurdles like creating and curating the website are simply chances to grow as an editor. When asked to share advice for college students who are considering becoming involved with media missions work, Runyon laughed and shared the challenging realities of her job.
She said that daily life in Uganda is hard. Runyon witnesses things that make no sense to her. The “why” question is ever-present and she said she would drive herself crazy trying to understand the answers to it.
On The Archibald Project’s blog, Runyon said that orphan care is not glamorous or romantic but hard, messy and exhausting. With the dawn of each day, she said she must decide that editing and sharing orphan care stories is worth the toil.
“I hope that we can look back on our time in Uganda and say we gave it our all,” by drawing on inspiration from God, Runyon said. “And that is enough to keep going.”
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:
- Don Aguirre, copy writer, Swanson Russell, by Brook O’Neill
- Kaitlin Ahart, communications director at Marian High School, by Moira Delaney
- Susan Albertus, public relations specialist, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, by Sara Slater
- Graham Archer, online sports editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Tanner Westerholt
- Nathan Arneal, owner, North Bend Eagle, by Meridith Gross-Rhode
- George Ayoub, senior writer, Grand Island Independent, by Reece Ristau
- 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
- Kathryn Bass, copywriter at Karsh Hogan, by Cassandra Kernick
- Debbie Behne, graphic designer, Hain Publishing, by Shelby Wade
- Gerri Berendzen, editorial production coordinator, Quincy Herald-Whig, by Mason Shumaker
- Jessica Best, marketer at Emfluence:Digital Marketing by Emily Wicht
- Miles Blumhardt, editor of active life and sports, Coloradoan, by Jeremy Shipe
- David Brindley, deputy managing editor for copy and research at National Geographic magazine, by Jasmine Rogers
- Jim Brock, editor of the Nebraska City News-Press, by Madison Wurtele
- Karen Brokaw, owner, Brokaw Marketing, by Brennan Andrews
- Amy Brown, co-publisher and editor, Edible Omaha, by Miranda Milovich
- Mike Brownlee, assistant news editor, The Daily Nonpareil, by Sam Egan
- Linda Bryant, managing editor and publisher, Voice News, by Preston Thiemann
- Tracy Buffington, editor of the Fremont Tribune in Fremont, Neb., by Dustin Hunke
- Dave Bundy, editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Tiler Thomas
- Dave Bundy, editor, Lincoln Journal-Star, by Yuliya Petrova
- Heather Burns, deputy editor at ESPN, by Natasha Rausch
- Patty Busse, Oakdale, Minn., Patch editor, by Frannie Sprouls
- Sean Callahan, editor, huskeronline.com, by Cameron Dudley
- Jesse Carey, contributing editor, Relevant Magazine, by Veronica Vanderbeek
- Cameron Carlow, sports copy editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Reid Kilmer
- Jim Carmichael, NET sports producer, by Dustin Hoffman
- Zean Carney, former publisher newspaper publisher, by Kaylee Dump
- Doug Carroll, editor, NEBRASKAland magazine, by Gene Curl
- Lee Ann Colacioppo, senior news editor, The Denver Post, by Whitney Carlson
- Bill Connolly, retired New York Times editor, by Asha Anchan
- Sue Copeland, contributing editor, Horse&Rider magazine, by Kelly Schnoor
- 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
- Lisa Gregory Dodge, editor of ANCHORA, by Lindsay Esparrago
- Bruce Dold, editor of the editorial page, Chicago Tribune, by Desi Botica
- Jeff Domingues, assistant news editor, The Denver Post, by Faiz Siddiqui
- Thea Dreisbach, editor of Dirt Road Daughters Magazine, by Emily Taylor
- Margaret Ehlers Bohling, page designer, Lincoln Journal Star, by Flora Zempleni
- Leeanna Ellis, online editor at Washington County Pilot Tribune & Enterprise by Sophie Tatum
- Dave Elsesser, news and presentation editor at Omaha World-Herald, by Desire Stephens
- 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
- Randy Essex, senior news editor, Cincinnati Enquirer, by Anna English
- Jennifer Estep, trader and event marketing specialist, T.D. Ameritrade, by Averi Melcher
- Jim Faddis, managing editor of Grand Island Independent, by Joseph McCarty
- Mary Fastenau, principal, Anthology Marketing Group, by Caitlin Hassler
- Mike Fitzgerald, editor, Nebraska Cattleman, by Jeanna Jenkins
- Mary Flood, legal media consultant at Androvett Legal Media and Marketing, by Lynn Yen
- 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
- Michele Gallagher, public relations director of Panerai North America, by Natalie Kozel
- 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
- Larry Graham, executive sports editor, San Diego Union-Tribune, by Eric Bertrand
- 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
- Laura Haraldson, managing editor of several magazines for Tiger Oak Publications, by Maria Lusk
- 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
- Kati and Levi Hime, owners and editors of Wyoming Lifestyle, by Avery Sass
- Curt Hineline, managing editor, Oakland Independent, by Elizabeth Uehling
- Jane Hirt, managing editor, Chicago Tribune, by Hailey Konnath
- Johnna Hjersman, copy editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, by Kelly O’Malley
- Sharon Hoffmann, assistant features editor Kansas City Star, by Chris Nelson
- 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
- Tyler Huckabee, managing editor, Relevant Magazine, by Veronica Venderbeek
- 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
- Matthew Hynes, photographer, by Anne-Marie Schneider
- Darren Ivy, publisher, Doniphan Herald, by Heather Haskins
- Josh Jackson, Paste magazine editor, by Brennan Shively
- Kelly Johnson, Sunday business editor, Washington Post, by Katie Nelson
- 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
- The Rev. Nicholas Kipper, editor, Southern Nebraska Register, by Ruth Jaros
- Ted Kirk, photo editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Kevin Kuehl
- Jane Kleeb, founder and editor of Bold Nebraska, by Shelby Fleig
- Lonna Kliment, director of ticket marketing for University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics, by Jeff Chestnut
- 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
- Jessica Kokesh, regional editor, Kearney Hub, by Sawyer Davidson
- Mike Konz, Kearney Hub editor, by Abby Schipporeit
- Doug Kouma, managing editor, Meredith Corp., by Morgan Horton
- David Krause, sports executive producer, 9news, by Bailey Neel
- 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
- Eric Larsen, senior editor for content at Coloradoan, by Alexa West
- George Lauby, editor of North Platte Bulletin, by Ryan Nielson
- Meg Lauerman, director of communications for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, by Amanda Schmidt
- Jessica Lavicky, e-content managing editor, Farm Progress, by Emma Likens
- Thad Livingston, sports editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Teddy Lampkin
- Josie Loza, momaha.com editor, by Emily Eckel
- Kristen Lueck, senior account executive Man Made Music, by Emily Trofholz
- 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
- Sarah McCallister, copy editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Michael Stanek
- Pat McFadden, Page 1 editor, St. Paul Pioneer Press, by Frannie Sprouls
- Meg McGuire, public relations manager at Charming Charlie, by Molly Deaver
- Terry McHale, California lobbyist and editor, by Michelle Baker
- Terry McKeighan, news editor, Fremont Tribune, by Madison Bell
- Bridget McQuillan, content market coordinator at FlyWheel, by Anna Rosenlof
- Micah Mertes, online entertainment editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Annie Bohling
- Ben Meyerson, news editor, Sun-Times Media Group, by Cara Snower
- Terry Miles, co-owner, Frontier and Holt County Independent, by Adam Pribil
- Chad Millman, editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine, by Haley Whisennand
- Elisabeth Mistretta,news editor, Sun-Times Media Group, by Cara Snower
- Scott Monserud, sports editor, Denver Post, by Crystal Zamora
- David Moore, executive creative director, Thought District, by Elise Genaidy
- Alan Mores, co-publisher of Harlan Tribune, by Chelsea Musfedlt
- Lyle Muller, executive director of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, by Andrew Ward
- Carrie Naylor, publisher of Bertrand Herald, by Jeff Renken
- 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
- Kate Parry, assistant managing editor, Minneapolis Star Tribune, by Lani Hanson
- Linda Persigehl, managing editor of Omaha Publications, by Kylie Morrison-Sloat
- Linda Persigehl, former managing editor, Omaha Magazine, by Michaela Noble
- Courtney Pitts-Mattern, copy editor at Omaha World-Herald, by Alissa Shanahan
- 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
- Tomari Quinn, editor and director of audience development at Topeka Capital-Journal, by Jordan Huesers
- Sue Ramsett, news director for KOLN/KGIN 10-11, by Zach Revense
- Jennifer Ramundt, copy chief and assistant managing editor at Meredith Corp., by Lizzie Moran
- Anne Raup, photo editor, Anchorage Daily News, by Kaylee Everlee
- Andy Raun, regional editor, Hastings Tribune, by Daniel Buhrman
- Lisa Reid, field editor of Showtimes Jr. Livestock Magazine, by Samantha Schneider
- 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
- Mary Lou Rodgers, editor, Douglas County Post-Gazette, by Sarah Vogel
- Linda Rosenberg, director of copy editing at Penguin books, by Morgan Spiehs
- Corey Russman, editor at Sandhills Publishing, by Julia Peterson
- Burt Rutherford, senior editor, BEEF Magazine, by Valerie Kesterson
- Deb Shanahan, Money editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Michael Bishop
- Kayla Schlechter, field communications manager for POET, by Miranda Broin
- 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
- Brien Seifferlein, video editor, NET Nebraska, by Will Stott
- Kevin Selders, associate editor, Ascend Integrated Media, by Joe Thiesfeld
- Lew Serviss, staff editor, The New York Times, by Carrie Niemeier
- Howard Sinker, digital sports editor, Minneapolis Star Tribune, by Josh Skluzacek
- Amber Smith, news producer at KOLN-KGIN 10/11, by Lindsey Berning
- Patrick Smith, online editor at Omaha World-Herald, by Annie Pigaga
- Dave Stagg, owner and editor, HM Magazine, by Ben Rickaby
- Chip Souza, sports editor of the Northwest Arkansas Times, by Robby Korth
- Larry Sparks, a former online editor, Omaha World-Herald, by Kyle Cummings
- Chris Spurlock, graphics editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, by Anna English
- Christine Steele, senior copy editor, The Capital Group Companies, by Gabbi Nicole
- Kathy Steinauer Smith, community investment manager at Woods Charitable Fund, by Griffith Swidler
- 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
- Tim Summers, graphics editor, The Detroit News by Mikala Kolander
- Jenny Sundberg, brand communications manager at Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, by Jolene Dreier
- 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
- John Teti, senior editor at the A.V. Club, by Drew Preston
- Tyler Thomas, owner and writer of the blog Nebraska Foodie, by Lauren Grace Bejot
- 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
- Susan Veidt, president U.S. Central Region of FleishmanHillard, by Nicole Emanuel
- Brandon Vogel, managing editor at Hail Varsity, by Sarah Frey
- 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
- Sandra Wendel, owner Write On, Inc., by Michaela Odens
- Metta West, copy editor, Meredith Corp., by Cristina Woodworth
- Kevin Wilkins, editor, of Skateboard Mag, by James Pace-Cornsilk
- David Williams, editor Omaha magazine, by Jillian Humphries
- 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
- Mark Zeligman, assistant sports editor, Kansas City Star, by Chris Heady
- David Zenlea, associate editor, Automobile magazine, by Alexander Hall
- Sara Ziegler, entertainment editor at Omaha World-Herald, by Maranda Louglin
- Chuck Zimmerman, founder, ZimmComm New Media LLC, by Kristi Block
- Joeth Zucco, senior project editor, University of Nebraska Press, by Jordan Kranse
By Drew Preston
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Working for “The Daily Show” bored John Teti.
Teti is a senior editor at the A.V. Club in Chicago, a title and position he invented for himself when he started working there full time in 2013. The A.V. Club is an online entertainment publication owned by The Onion, Inc.
“It’s a title that I invented when I came out here. We knew what I wanted to do, and we sort of slapped this title on it. I do kind of have a managerial role,” Teti said in a phone interview. He was comparing his duties at the A.V. Club to fellow senior editor Sean O’Neal.
Teti is a graduate of Dartmouth University, where he completed his master’s degree in 2005. He worked for the school’s student newspaper, The Dartmouth, through all four of his undergraduate years. By his senior year, he was the editor-in-chief.
Many aspire to work where Teti found a job immediately out of school. After finishing things at Dartmouth, he was hired as an associate producer at “The Daily Show.” Through college, he thought that he wanted to work in the television industry, but he learned through experience that that was not the case.
“My job was in the field department; my job was basically to come up with ideas for field segments that we did. When Jon Stewart would approve any of them I would help find characters we would interview, set up a location and whatnot to help produce it. I did that for a couple years, and it just got boring. I felt like I was doing the same thing over and over again and I felt like I didn’t have as much creative input as I wanted,” Teti said.
Teti was done with “The Daily Show” by the end of 2006. From there, he was involved in improv and standup comedy. Meanwhile, he was constantly writing, posting on his blog Geek Out New York.
“From there, I happened to meet someone who worked on the business side of The Onion. And I said to him, ‘Hey, I’d love to write videogame reviews for the A.V. Club.’ And I got in touch with the editor there, and he liked some of my clips from the blog and I started doing that more.”
He gradually worked his way into his position at the A.V. Club. He began freelancing for the publication in 2008 and began working for them full time as the games editor in 2012. In November 2013, he moved from New York to Chicago to assume his current role.
Teti enjoys his job immensely, partially because of the variety that every day presents him.
“Each day really is different,” Teti said. “Every Thursday we have a meeting of all the staff in the morning. That’s sort of our time every week to get those more collaborative things underway, and also to check in with everyone, see how everyone’s coming along, what difficulties and challenges everyone’s encountering. I wrote a newswire. You know, I usually have to write. A few times a week I need to write a newswire or a ‘Great Job, Internet!’ or some little thing, just to pull my weight. I spent the rest of the day working on my weekly football column, which goes up on Fridays.”
Being a senior editor, Teti has more duties than just writing.
“One of the nice things about working at the A.V. Club is that some days I’m really doing a lot of managerial work, helping people get pieces going, editing pieces as they come in. You know, handling publication stuff in the CMS and making sure things look right on the site. Some days are more dedicated to just me writing. One of the reasons I love it here is that it changes from day to day; it stays interesting for me.”
Another thing that makes his job enjoyable at the A.V. Club is its status as an online-only publication. Teti says that there are a number of benefits to working with online publishing platforms.
“For me, what I like about working on the Web as a medium is that I can make connections in my criticisms and I can illustrate them in so many interesting ways,” Teti said. “I know how to cut together a video clip, or I can tweet or Instagram. I think if you took a lot of my columns and printed them out, you’d still be getting a lot out of them, but you’d only maybe be getting 80 percent. You need the multimedia experience.”
The A.V. Club is an example of the shifting landscape of media, with more and more publications moving from print to online. Even in this shifting landscape, there are certain skills that Teti sees remaining important.
“One thing I’m shocked that people don’t work on is the pure craft of the English language. Really, you’ve got to be: A) a voracious reader so that you’re processing the language all the time and getting it into your bones, and B) you’ve got to be ruthless with yourself in terms of grammar and style. It’s those little things that make such a big difference to editors.”
Teti has one important piece of advice for students looking for jobs in the media industry: Be ready to do things on your own.
“I taught myself how to edit video and how to program HTML and CMS. I love computers, so maybe that’s something I would do because I’m a weirdo. But you can acquire each skill. Learn how to do as much of it as you can by yourself because you do have to do everything. To me, that’s only going to become more so in the five-to-10 year timeframe. You need to be able to put together a sentence, like I said, but you have to have skills beyond that so you can offer yourself as a package, not just one thing, to a media outlet.”
By Nicole Emanuel
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Each day is different for Susan Veidt, president of the U.S. Central Region at FleishmanHillard, a public relations and integrated marketing firm. She manages the operations of all five FleishmanHillard offices within Midwest.
She said her days are split into 15 to 30 minute increments, devoting her time to serving employees and using her experience to help them be successful. Part of her responsibilities include recruiting staff, company branding, evaluating her clients’ markets, consulting on crises and general oversight of clients in her region.
Veidt’s favorite part of her job is the interaction she has with fellow employees at FleishmanHillard. She enjoys being surrounded by like-minded people who value strong communication skills. Their shared passion and interests create a fun environment where they can build powerful communication platforms.
That shared purpose is what has kept Veidt at FleishmanHillard for almost 28 years and makes every day fun.
When Veidt was exploring career options as a journalism student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, magazine journalism seemed to be a good fit. Long-form writing, publication design, editing and reporting were all areas that Veidt enjoyed.
As she made connections, however, graduate students introduced her to publication work for organizations. As she learned more about the industry and its integrated communication, Veidt liked how it combined writing and media relations to reach specific stakeholder groups.
Intrigued, Veidt believed she was well suited for these tasks and launched her career in public relations. After 12 years working as a publicist, writer and project manager, Veidt joined FleishmanHillard in 1986 as an account executive.
Veidt has several years of editing training and believes it is an essential aspect of her job. She often edits her own work but recommends having a second person look over everything, not only to proofread for basic grammar and style errors, but also for content and feedback. It is vital that whatever message is sent is clear, persuasive and on target with the audience. Feedback helps prevent misinterpretations.
As a leader, Veidt believes it’s essential to set an example of good writing and editing practices for the rest of the company. She hopes that others will see her commitment to high standards and follow suit.
“We’re in the business of communication,” Veidt said in a phone interview. “Every piece that we send out, however big or small, is important.”
Social media is a central platform in every aspect of Veidt’s work. Personally, she networks on sites such as LinkedIn. Professionally, she monitors social media channels for trends that can be used to benefit clients and uses it to listen to consumers.
FleishmanHillard uses social media to market and manage its reputation as well as to serve its clients. Online presence requires a constant education to keep learning and understanding when to engage over social media and when not to use it.
In the future of public relations, some things will never change. Veidt highlights the importance of being able to understand people and knowing how to apply communication skills to tell persuasive stories.
But one of the changes is the proliferation of channels. The communications industry is growing more reliant on tools for research and monitoring that allow businesses to listen and react in real time. Analytics and research to collect data will partner with public relations to become a larger part of the industry in the future.
The speed in which an organization communicates and reacts has become more important and will continue to be vital for successful public relations. With the 24-hour news cycle the work is never done; learning to manage that and react accordingly will be crucial. Veidt sees that as a big change.
Staying relevant in a radically changing communications field is a challenge for Veidt. Managing her time well and finding the most effective way to communicate with different people are also areas where Veidt works to improve.
Working with clients in several different industries can be another difficult task. She is required to have an understanding of unfamiliar businesses and to do so quickly to best serve each client.
Veidt’s advice for students is to never stop learning, even after graduation, and to never be content.
“If you’re doing things the way that you did them 12 or 18 months ago, you’re probably screwing up because our field is changing and evolving so rapidly … know that your training is a lifelong process and embrace that.”
Given Veidt’s career experience, she would have taken more business classes in college. Knowing how her clients’ businesses operate and being able to speak in their terms helps her to be a more effective communicator. Another area Veidt wishes she had more knowledge in is social sciences. She feels that understanding psychology and other mental triggers are important because they can be used to target audiences and engage with people. With degrees in journalism and English, Veidt said her background in liberal arts has served her well.
One of Veidt’s favorite projects that she has worked on, and her firm still works on, goes back over 20 years. The “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” program, sponsored by Energizer batteries, partners with local fire departments to encourage people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they change their clocks for daylight savings. It is rewarding to be part of a lasting national program that not only sells batteries, but also saves lives.
Veidt said one of the compelling things about public relations is that the best times are ahead and the most exciting projects are the ones she is working on now.
Veidt reminds students that everyone has a brand. She encourages people to be conscious about cultivating a brand of excellence and approaching everything as an opportunity to surpass expectations and add original ideas.
“Think ‘How can I distinguish myself as someone who is known for excellence and the ability to make great things happen?’” Veidt said. “If you approach your work with that degree of commitment and passion then more opportunities open up to you. You get better assignments, you get promoted faster, you get greater rewards and your work becomes more fun and success follows.”
By Madison Wurtele
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jim Brock, the editor of the Nebraska City News-Press has an undeniable passion for sharing the news. It shines through every one of his words. In an email interview, Brock shared his passion and what he has learned from his experience in journalism.
Brock’s career took an unconventional path. He majored in history instead of journalism.
But he became an intern for his hometown paper in the Memphis, Nebraska, area, in 2002, making journalism his career. He began working at the Nebraska City News-Press when he was transferred there by Gatehouse Media.
“The best part of my job is knowing I can effect change on a daily basis. That is why I do what I do. I certainly don’t do it for the money,” Brock said.
A typical day for Brock consists of distributing assignments, planning budgets, attending to social media, updating websites and looking over the operations for the three different newsrooms he is in charge of.
Brock recognizes that working for a small publication does have disadvantages. He must balance giving readers the information they need to know with wanting to increase ad sales. He says it can also be a struggle when important members of the community try to influence the content of the newspaper.
“The purpose of a newspaper is to inform the community it serves, whether said community wants to hear the news or not. In today’s world, the focus has shifted to making money at the expense of journalistic integrity,” he said. “You cannot pick and choose what stories to run based on public reaction and whether or not an advertiser will withdraw its ads. Unfortunately, that is the reality of working for a community newspaper.”
Since beginning his career, Brock has seen the role of editing change and develop. He thinks professional writing has become more casual. He also sees himself starting to write more like he speaks. Brock says he has started using prepositions at the end of sentences and constructing sentences with no verbs. Brock sees this type of change continuing. He believes the world will always need editors, but they are the middlemen who will eventually be removed as the popularity of citizen journalists groups and self-editing reporters increases.
However, even with the ever-changing journalistic environment, Brock continues to have the utmost faith in the power and importance of the media.
“I have learned that the press is powerful enough to save an entire community from overreaching governments, high-society mandates, archaic city ordinances and racist law enforcement officials,” he said. “If done correctly, reporters and editors can effect more change than elected officials. That is why it is so important that newspapers survive.”
Brock’s hope for aspiring journalists is that they recognize the power of their words and persevere through this business’s many challenges.
“Never forget that your job is more important than most. And remember, you are going to mess up,” he said. “You will get a story wrong. You will mix up the facts, and you will misspell someone’s name. It is as inevitable as rain and snow. In fact, this will follow you until you retire. Just get back on the horse and keep riding. You are the Knight in Shining Armor. Don’t ever forget that.”
By Emily Wicht
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Digital Marketing Evangelist Jessica Best considers her role at Emfluence: Digital Marketing to be Journalism 2.0 because in strategic communication, she uses both her journalism and creation skills in equal parts. Emfluence is an email platform that clients can use to create marketing campaigns.
Before diving into the world of strategic communication and email marketing, Best attended the University of Missouri-Columbia as an elementary education major, then a nursing major, then computer engineering major before graduating with a degree in journalism/strategic communication in 2005.
After college, Best began writing ad spots on the radio, which helped land her a job with Theater League, a touring Broadway presenter, where she marketed season tickets. It was during her time with Theater League that Best got her first taste of learning about email and how to use email to its full capacity.
Best was also on the Board of Direct Marketing Kansas City, when she began using Emfluence first as client. After becoming an enthusiastic fan and advocate of the Emfluence platform, a fellow board member offered Best a job as an advocate and marketer for Emfluence.
At Emfluence, Best wears many hats. She act as an educator on the power of email and social media in the office, but she also works with clients to help them see what new and creative ways they can use things and how to build up and manage their email lists. She helps manage the Emfluence Twitter and Google+ accounts and works as an account rep of sorts for the marketing association. Best also works with trade clients and clients that Emfluence sponsors.
In addition, Best also works on email nurture campaigns, the Emfluence newsletter and writes and edits for two Emfluence blogs. “It [my job and strategic communication] makes me feel like my own small business agency,” she said. Best says that her favorite part of her job is the strategy portion because email marketing is “an avenue where [clients] can make sales using something they already use [email].”
Email marketing is unique because it is completely data driven. As Best said, “you are mining for people who you know use something.” You know they will use it because you know they already buy it, which increases the return on investment.
One goal of email marketers is to “send an email to 200 people but making it feel personal,” Best said.
Her journalism degree has been helpful. She wants wants students to know that advertising, public relations and marketing all crossover. She believes that it is more about getting the technical education to implement your skills that is important. “A catchy headline is a Tweet,” Best said.
Becoming a professional can be intimidating, but Best said it was important to know that even when you are a professional “you are still not a grown up. There is never a point where you are grown up. You never stop changing your mind; You never stop learning.”
The best advice she has ever received was: “You have to be OK with failing and understanding that you will be learning something.”
She said, “You are more apt to learn if you are willing to fail.”
‘If anyone tells you that you can’t do something because you didn’t go to college for it, that’s just a bunch of crap’
By Avery Sass
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kati and Levi Hime of Laramie, Wyoming, have owned and edited their own magazine, “Wyoming Lifestyle,” since 2010.
Originally from Kearney, Nebraska, Kati Hime always loved writing but thought she could not make a living from it. So she pursued a career in medicine, thinking she’d become a physician.
After realizing she wasn’t cut out for medical school, she became a registered sonographer. But at 25, she knew she wanted something more.
In high school, the couple had been active in many things including Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). Later, the Himes led the Wyoming State Junior Miss program for a few years. Kati also coached cheerleading at a local high school and was part of Job’s Daughters, a Masonic-sponsored youth organization for girls and young women.
They still have many interests. Levi Hime volunteers with the Boy Scouts. The couple also own a local dance studio that was supposed to close a few years back. Both of their children dance there, and the Himes did not want to see it close.
“Levi and I can never really decide what we want to be when we grow up,” joked Kati, looking back on all of their unrelated-to-the-job community service and involvement.
“If you would’ve told me back then we would have a magazine and publishing company, I would’ve laughed and thought there’s no way, I’m not qualified for that,” she said. “You create your own path and sometimes things happen that you never anticipated and life is a continual learning process. And if anyone tells you that you can’t do something because you didn’t go to college for it, that’s just a bunch of crap. You can figure it out and learn it and understand it. Don’t be discouraged at all about that.”
Levi graduated with a degree in geology but had a knack for computer technology and design. He worked 50 hours a week as a groundwater geologist, but Kati worked fewer days and had a more flexible schedule. So the two decided to put their hobbies together to create a wedding magazine called “Wyoming Weddings,” in 2009.
One year later, they realized that once people who read their magazine got married, they wouldn’t pick up the wedding magazines anymore. So the couple decided to create a magazine with broader appeal. That’s how Wyoming Lifestyle began.
They split duties at the magazine. Levi does the backend work: Web design, Web updating, and information technology. Kati does most everything else: the writing, editing, ad sales, financial work and getting issues ready for print. They have contributing writers and photographers, ad sales representatives and a graphic designer.
Kati and Levi then personally deliver the papers all around the state within two weeks, four times a year, which is one of Kati’s favorite parts.
“People get really excited when the magazine comes in, and I see these people four times a year and so it’s nice to connect and ask them how their kids are and what they’re doing. Connecting with people and getting to see the entire state, it never gets old. The magazine has been an incredible experience. It’s taken us to Wyoming and experiences around Wyoming we never would have had.”
But there are challenges too. “The hardest thing about starting and building something is when you start off anything new you get really excited about it, you throw yourself into it, you’re passionate about it and when the hard work starts happening and it’s 2 a.m. and I’ve just come home from being on the road all day and have to get up at 6 to do it all again,” she said. “Or I’ve been working to sell ads and have made 30 phone calls and gotten 28 nos, and you’re looking at your budget realizing you have got to sell a certain number of ads and you feel a panic moment. It’s moments like that where it’s not easy and you have to go back to that thing that got you excited and you have to go back to your passion.
“And it’s stuff like that that goes on for a year or so and that is when people want to throw in the towel. It takes time to start a business. They feel discouraged and the biggest thing is you just got to see it through and remember what got you excited and have faith in it,” she said. “We’re five years in and are just seeing a profit. Some days were very discouraging those first couple years. You have to see it through, and it’s tough. But it’s the biggest test of your will power in those moments and no one can make that decision to keep working but you.
“And there’s the biggest pride in that when you get to the other side and start seeing the benefits and know that you saw that through; that’s a big powerful moment. That takes courage.”