World traveler uses photojournalism to inspire dreams

May 3, 2018 Leave a comment

Dean Jacobs, world traveler, photojournalist, contributing columnist for Fremont Tribune (Photo courtesy of Dean Jacobs)

By Meg Rice
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Many children dream of traveling the world and exploring exciting places. For Dean Jacobs, this dream became a reality.

Since 2001, Jacobs has traveled to 58 countries. He documents and brings his experiences to life through his photography and writings. 

“My mission is to find amazing images, both in photography form and written form,” Jacobs said. “I want to bring them back and transform them into teachable moments for others.”

In 2010, Jacobs created Travel 4 Life, a nonprofit organization that uses photojournalism and stories to remind others of the beauty of the world that he said many people often forget. He travels the U.S., giving presentations to teach others, especially kids, about the world and to inspire them to dream.

“I want to remind people of their dreams and challenge them to be the best version of themselves,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs is not only a world-traveling photojournalist, but he writes a column for the Fremont Tribune and has written two books.

Jacobs teaches writing skills in his educational workshops. As a photographer, he uses his photos to help others connect with the life around them and to appreciate the beauty of the world.

Coming from a smaller town in Nebraska, Jacobs said he learned to enjoy the simplicity of life at a young age. But he also understands the challenges of achieving big dreams.

“My dream as a child was to travel around the world,” Jacobs said. “I wish someone would’ve told me when I was four years old that it was realistic, I could’ve gotten here sooner.”

Jacobs was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, where he lived on a farm for five years before his family moved to Fremont, Nebraska.

He graduated from Wayne State College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and minors in earth science and art. His only experience with journalism was two classes he had taken in college.

“Journalism was something I did for fun,” Jacobs said. “But it was also political because I was student council president in college and I wanted to have the paper on my side.”

It wasn’t until after college and he was working at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in sales and marketing that he began to dabble in journalism. He started to shoot photos as a hobby.

“Photography is a set of skills that I had to learn over time,” Jacobs said. “My work in the beginning was very average. Eventually, I could see my work getting better.”

Jacobs began as a working as a photographer for the Fremont Tribune in 2004. He said he had to learn how to think in the photojournalistic style.

“You need to edit and craft the images in your mind before capturing an image,” Jacobs said.

In 2007, Jacobs started to write for the Fremont Tribune as a columnist and wrote about his experiences around the world.

“It became clear to me that if I was going to travel and use what I do to make a difference,” Jacobs said. “Writing was a skill set I needed that would impact a lot of people.”

Jacobs is now a freelance photographer and writer for the paper. His column is full of stories about his travels. 

“I don’t get paid a lot, the nickels and dimes add up eventually,” Jacobs said. “But the real opportunity is that it keeps me writing, which hopefully sometime in the future will transform into another book.”

His first book, “Wondrous Journey” is about his first trip around the world. His second book, “Wondrous Creatures” is an award-winning children’s book about the animal kingdom.

Looking through his children’s book, it’s easy to see that Jacobs has accomplished his dream and seen the world. He said one of his remaining goals is to visit Antartica.

“My advice to you is to always dream big, live tall,” Jacobs said. “So we can make the world better.”

As a photojournalist, Jacobs’ advice is to be intentional and committed to your work.

“Challenge yourself to be the best you can be,” Jacobs said. “Life rewards those who put themselves in the game in a big way.”

 

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Raun celebrates 25 years in editing, witnesses changes in journalism

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Andy Raun, news staff supervisor at the Hastings Tribune (Photo courtesy of Andy Raun)

By Noël Hrnchir
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

From no technology to Twitter, journalism has drastically changed over the past few decades.

Andy Raun has experienced it firsthand.

Raun has been an editor at the Hastings Tribune for 25 years and was recently made news staff supervisor. The Tribune covers all or parts of 13 counties in southern Nebraska and northern Kansas.

Raun’s passion for journalism began the summer after his sophomore year of high school at the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Conference. The conference was held in Lincoln and included talks from multiple people in journalism. Mike Strickland, a speaker and journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, stuck out to Raun.

“I remember Strickland, among others, saying that there were great changes ahead,” Raun said. “I think the suggestion was that, by about this time, things would have changed a lot. And they have.”

This change did not intimidate Raun but rather intrigued him. He decided to major in journalism at the UNL.

“I learned to do things the old-fashioned way, so my orientation is kind of more old school,” Raun said. “There are people who were there who were just a year or two younger than I am who were doing computerized layout.”

Raun worked for the Hastings Tribune as a summer intern after his junior year of college in 1992. The following summer, he was offered a full-time position as the city government reporter. He has been with the Tribune since.

He was promoted to the position of regional editor, which, at the Tribune is also the farm news editor. It was just in the past few months that Raun was promoted to the supervisor of the news staff.

During his 25 years with the Tribune, Raun said that job cuts have risen significantly and doing more with fewer people is a common theme. Only two people work as editors.

“What’s happened is the size of the staff has been reduced through attrition. There haven’t been layoffs. It’s just a matter of a lot of times when somebody will leave… they will always be looking to see if there’s some way that we can be more efficient,” Raun said.

And being a journalist means dealing with some uncertainty these days.

“There was a lot that was happening in the early ’90s that set us in the direction of advanced technology,” Raun said. “A lot of questions were being raised as to what the future was of this industry.”

The future of journalism is still unknown. Raun says that the key is making all of the relevant platforms of today part of the operation and figuring out how to make them better for the audience.

“The older folks value the newspaper product that they have always known,” Raun said. “At the same time, the younger generation does not necessarily need a printed paper for their experience. Our job is to meet the needs of both audiences.”

Because journalism is constantly changing, journalists are constantly learning. To be happy in your career as a journalist, Raun said that you must love to learn.

“Ask yourself how you feel about learning. If you see yourself as a lifelong learner, then you will enjoy your career.”

As editor, Joe Veyera does it all for Seattle weekly newspaper

By William Stone
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Joe Veyera is the editor-in-chief at the Queen Anne & Magnolia News. He also doubles as the primary feature writer and photographer.

After all, he is the only one on staff.

Though the Queen Anne & Magnolia News is part of a slightly larger group of suburban Seattle papers operated by Pacific Publishing, the papers operate with a tiny staff.

When Veyera was hired by Pacific Publishing four months after he graduated from the University of Washington, three staffers, two editors and a reporter, worked across the four papers.

Veyera

Veyera has been the editor of the Queen Anne & Magnolia News for two years and during that time has had to use his full repertoire of journalism skills.

“We were all stretched pretty thin then, and that’s still the case now,” Veyera said.

Having the skills to do anything he needs to be able to is key for Veyera in his day-to-day job.

“When I was in college, I had at least one professor who was very adamant to all of us that we needed to know how to do everything. You’ve got to know how to write and take photos and record audio and do design and all that,” Veyera said. “I kind of scoffed at the idea at the time, I was like ‘What role is there where you have to do all of that all the time?’ And I found it. I found exactly the role.”

As his high school paper’s editor, Joe felt intrigued by journalism. He took that intrigue to the University of Washington where he covered news, sports, and ultimately became the editor-in-chief of the school paper. At The Daily, he had a full staff so there’s been some adjusting to do.

The Queen Anne & Magnolia News is a weekly paper, which means Veyera has to have the whole thing wrapped up on Monday so it can be published on Wednesday.

He takes Monday to lay everything out and make sure all the content is where it needs to be. He does the printing in-house so that process is relatively simple.

After Monday’s print deadline, he uses Tuesday to plan out the next edition, but usually he doesn’t get the template for the next week’s edition until Thursday or sometimes Friday so some weeks he gets Wednesday as somewhat of a day off.

Even with the slower pace of the weekly paper, Veyera acknowledges some challenges.

“There have been instances where I’ve had to rush stories out just because I need to fill the space. I have basically everything I need, but it’s not as polished as I’d like it to be,” he said. “You’ve got this 16 or 20 page paper every single week. You know it’s coming.  You have to make sure that it’s going to be filled, and sometimes that leaves you with not the best content.”

To make the content as high quality as he can, Veyera has one rule he likes to follow.

“I rarely end up doing features or profiles that are based on phone call interviews,” he said. “In general, I’ve always found it best, you know, sitting down with someone in person over coffee, for instance, ends up giving you a much better idea of who they are and what they’re trying to do or what their business is, and I think they also appreciate talking to someone in person.”

He’ll make the trek from North Seattle to the Queen Anne & Magnolia office on Thursday or Friday to check the template and start plugging the articles in.

It’s not always easy being a one-man crew, and the job wasn’t exactly what Veyera had in mind out of college. That said, he acknowledges now, it has blossomed into a position he has come to love.

“I think when I started, I might have answered differently and said I wouldn’t be there very long and then move on to the next thing,” he said. “Then when I look at the calendar and realize I’ve been there for two years, I guess that might change it a little bit. The way I’ve always looked at job openings and positions is that I’ll focus on things as they come along.”

It wasn’t his goal going into college to run The Daily, but it happened. Then he didn’t plan on having to use all the skills he learned in college but now he is.

“The chance was there and I felt ready to move into it,” he said.

For now, he’s content at the Queen Anne & Magnolia News, covering the news of suburban Seattle and boosting his presence on social media so if an unexpected opportunity arises, he’ll be prepared for it.

Web mastermind takes over the internet one headline at a time

By Camille Paddock
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Most kids at the age of 9 want to be teachers or astronauts or firefighters, but Travis Siebrass dreamt of becoming a journalist.

His parents always got the Omaha World-Herald delivered to their house, which is what he credits to his peculiar childhood dream.

Travis Siebrass

“I loved the paper and I loved Nebraska football,” Siebrass said in a phone interview. “I always wanted to be a journalist because of that.”

While it may seem like Siebrass had it all figured out, he had a hard time finding his perfect fit in the world of journalism.

He wore many hats over the span of his professional career including news, sports, print and web before finally settling down in his position as the digital editor for the Daily Herald in the Chicagoland area.

Siebrass was born and raised in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in news editorial journalism.

A professor recommended Siebrass apply for an internship with the Daily Herald during his senior year in college. After graduating from UNL, Siebrass landed the position and only planned on staying in Chicago for the year-long internship.

But that is not how life turned out for Siebrass. When his year was up, the company offered him a full-time position, an offer he couldn’t pass up. He’s been working at the Daily Herald since.

In a typical day, Siebrass comes in around 5:30 a.m. and reads the note left by the overnight staff who have the morning articles ready. He looks over the homepage and the headlines and decides if anything needs to be changed.

“My favorite part is changing a headline and immediately watching [views] spike,” Siebrass said.

In fact, that is the big difference between print and web. On the print side, there is no way to see if your work attracted an audience, he said.

Online articles are constantly being tracked in terms of viewer engagement. This data is analyzed and changes can be made to articles and headlines in order to boost viewership. Since there is no way to track how many people actually read an article in print, web has become increasingly popular.

“I’m glad I made the move,” Siebrass said. “That’s where the future is.”

Siebrass’ advice for students is simple: He encourages all journalism students to take risks and reach out for internships.

“There is no substitute for experience,” Siebrass said. “Being out there in the real world is the best teacher of all.”

Better Homes and Gardens senior editor started as an apprentice

By Brooke Wrage
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

As a first-generation college student, Rachel Haugo switched her undergraduate major five times.

Haugo wanted to find something she loved.

She explored graphic design, anesthesiology, accounting, advertising, and finally settled for journalism with a magazine emphasis.

She doesn’t regret it.

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Rachel Haugo, senior editor for Better Homes and Gardens at Meredith Corp. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Haugo)

Haugo is more than 10 years out of college and still works at the same corporation she got her first job at after college. She found her place at Meredith Corp. after being a part of its apprenticeship program during her senior year at Iowa State University.

“Any time I feel like I kind of plateaued in a position, there’s always been something else that’s come up,” Haugo said in a phone interview. “It’s just been a really good experience. Meredith really does feel like home to me.”

She grew up in North Dakota and attended high school in Plymouth, Minnesota, where her high school yearbook teacher inspired her to attend Iowa State University and become a Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Her yearbook experience doesn’t fall far from her job as the senior editor for the Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

“I would say my job right now is almost like yearbook for adults,” Haugo said.

Technology is Haugo’s biggest challenge because it is constantly changing and improving. Haugo works to adapt to whatever the new trend is and tries to grasp an understanding of how it works.

As a media company, Meredith Corp. taps into the popular media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Haugo argues a place for magazines will still exist in the future because of the value and opportunities of digital content.

Haugo is excited to see where she will be in 10 years but does not have a plan sketched out. She strives to find what is best for herself at a given time.

“I think being fluid and able to adapt is just vital to the profession, ” Haugo said. “I think it’s just a matter of evolving with technology and revolving with the field.”

She is proud that she has found opportunities to grow personally and professionally within the same organization.

Haugo has worked for Meredith Corp. as a senior editor, lifestyle editor, producer and an associate editor. She has experience editing content for online and print.

A typical day for Haugo begins at 9 a.m. with a meeting and then varies from overseeing video or photoshoots to attending other meetings. Her team consists of six members who work with a lot of how-to content and how-to writing.

To be efficient editors, Haugo’s team collaborates and often recreates how-to projects to ensure they are able to write clear descriptions.

“How-to writing is kind of an art of itself, versus pretty magazine story writing. It’s just different, and you have to be very precise because when we’re not precise, we get a lot of reader questions,” Haugo said. “So we try to think about potential questions before we receive them.”

Outside of work, Haugo is a volunteer academic adviser for Kappa Kappa Gamma at Iowa State University. With Kappa, she is also on the editorial board for The Key magazine.

Haugo’s advice for students is to put effort into yourself, make connections and learn about what other people do.

Haugo believes every experience is one that shapes you into a better person and helps you to grow and become a well-rounded employee.

“You get out what you put in, and I really feel strongly that if you are interested in a certain area you really have to put that upon yourself to develop it,” Haugo said. “No one is going to develop you, you have to develop yourself.”

Pitzer uses journalism, editing skills to revolutionize rural media

By Dylan Widger
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Turning a newspaper from a small town paper into the top weekly paper in the state is no small feat.

Carrie Pitzer did it in two years.

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Carrie Pitzer, owner of Pitzer Digital and My Local County News

 Pitzer owns Pitzer Digital and is editor-in-chief of My Local County News in Neligh, Nebraska. During her career, she has served as editor of her college publication as well as a reporter and editor at the Fremont Tribune and the Norfolk Daily News.

Pitzer became interested in journalism  in high school. She worked for the yearbook at Orchard Public School in Orchard, Nebraska. Tom Osborne, the head football coach for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the time, came to Orchard to visit one of the players on the football team who was graduating and looking to play at the college level.

Osborne was and continues to be a legend in Nebraska, and everyone wanted to meet him while he was there. However, he only met with the coach and the player as well as a school yearbook staffer. Pitzer was selected to interview him, and she said that being able to meet and interview a celebrity like Osborne sparked her interest in journalism.

Now with more experience in journalism, she said, her favorite part of the job has shifted.

“That opened my eyes to the opportunities with the role,” she said, “which is interesting since my favorite part of what I do is the opposite — showcasing the efforts of lesser-known people.”

Pitzer graduated from Midland University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in December of 2000. While there, she worked for campus publications and became the youngest editor-in-chief of the yearbook at the age of 19.

Right out of high school and during her time in college, Pitzer started writing sports stories for the Norfolk Daily News. While balancing school, work and the long commute between Norfolk and Fremont, she started writing for national sports publications.

During her third year of college, she accepted a full-time position at the Norfolk Daily News as a reporter. While there, she earned many awards for writing, design and photography. In 2003, she was given the Associated Press Sports Column of the Year award for her story after Nebraska fired defensive coordinator Craig Bohl. 

“That was a big deal for a small daily newspaper,” she said.

Carrie and her husband, Wade, purchased land in Antelope County and returned home in 2005 to build a home and start a family. They have lived in the area with their two daughters, Shelby and Izzy, since.

After the move, Carrie continued working at the Norfolk Daily News until 2012. In 2013, the Pitzers opened Pitzer Digital, a marketing and multimedia company in Neligh. They have since expanded to include publications such as the Antelope County News and Knox County News.

Having a small town newspaper helps showcase community members who are making a big impact on the people and the communities around them. For Pitzer, this is the best part of her job.

“I’ve interviewed more celebrities and well-known individuals than I can even remember, but the best part of my job is showcasing the efforts of ordinary people,” she said. “Most people don’t believe there is anything special about them, so to find that specialty and showcase it is very rewarding. Everyone deserves their moment in the spotlight, and I’m proud to have a publication that works hard to recognize those efforts.”

In 2016, Pitzer Digital purchased the Orchard News and started publication of the Antelope County News along with the Orchard paper. Later that year, the Nebraska Press Association (NPA) recognized the Orchard News as one of the top three fastest-growing publications in the state of Nebraska in their division. In 2018, the Orchard News was recognized as the Best Weekly Newspaper in the state of Nebraska.

Pitzer said that she takes a lot of pride in accomplishing so much in such a short time. 

“I’m pretty proud of that because we were able to make that big of a turnaround within our first year,” she said. “It’s incredible how far we managed to come in just under a year.”

Pitzer said that her biggest piece of advice for student journalists is to start at the bottom and get valuable real-world experience.

“I’m running into a lot of students that have been pampered and not given real-world experience,” she said. “They need to have more entry-level opportunities so they can learn how to do these things to help them prepare for the better positions later on.”

Vincent Tuss’ journey to becoming an editor started with an internship

December 12, 2017 Leave a comment

by Monica Uzpen
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

International relations isn’t a traditional major for journalists, but don’t tell Vincent Tuss that.

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Vincent Tuss, night homepage producer at the Star Tribune

Vincent Tuss, night homepage producer at the Star Tribune and professional copy editor, said international relations is all about helping people connect with and understand each other, which is a big part of what journalists do.

Throughout his career, he has been doing just that.

Tuss received his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in 1994. Afterwards, he won the Dow Jones News Fund internship, worked as a copy editor for many publications, joined ACES: the Society for Editing and finally landed a job at the Star Tribune. But he was interested in journalism far before crossing his graduation stage.

“I was thinking about doing it in high school, but the timing didn’t work out,” Tuss said.

His interest came from reading The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, his hometown papers, which Tuss said were big and vibrant with lots of personality. It would take him until his senior year in college to act on this interest and join his college paper.

After that the rest is history. Literally history.

After he graduated, the Cold War made jobs in international relations hard to get, and Tuss knew he had what it took to be a journalist, so he accepted a Dow Jones internship, which places students in internships across the country after they take a highly competitive editing test.

That internship was like a two-week boot camp. Taught by a former Marine and journalism professor, the program had Tuss taking spelling and geography tests too difficult to pass.

“The idea was not so much that you had to learn everything, but to make you realize what you didn’t know, which is a lot.”

After the internship, Tuss pursued a career in sports journalism, which he always had a passion for. He started out covering women’s soccer and eventually worked his way up to men’s basketball, but soon realized everyone wanted to do sports and that there was little room in that industry. That’s when he realized he’d be great at editing.

“The more I did it, the more I liked it, the more I thought I was good at it.”

Now, he works as a night homepage producer at the Star Tribune, using all the experience he gained from editing. The biggest challenge? Trying to fill in the gap of what can make a story and what can’t.

And of course, trying to get everyone on the same page to fill that gap.

Tuss said that it’s especially difficult at night because the discussion of what to put in and leave out of the paper already happened. But Tuss also understands the importance of working with other people and communication.

“As much as we like to put a name on a story, it’s all a cooperative effort.”

The culture of his workplace is shifting to help make communication easier. The layout of his office, which he called The Hub, has changed to make the workplace more collaborative. Small innovations like this are just the tip of the iceberg in a changing field like journalism.

To keep up with the changes, Tuss recommends that aspiring journalists stay curious. Keep learning because you don’t know where the industry will be in two years, let alone 10.

But you don’t just have to look to the future to improve your skills. Tuss said that he wished he focussed more on writing, as well as other basic skills.

“You’re a better editor if you’re a writer and you’re a better writer if you’re an editor.”