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
Steven M. Sipple may be one of the most recognizable sports writers in Nebraska, but one of his first jobs was as a copy editor.
Sipple, who covers Husker football, basketball and baseball for the Lincoln Journal Star, started off at the Journal Star as a copy editor in 1991 and what he learned has stayed with him.
Even though his first job at the Journal Star wasn’t what he really wanted, he knew he had to start somewhere.
“The editing position taught me quite a bit in those first initial months,” said Sipple, adding that it did not pay very well.
Sipple, a native of Columbus, Nebraska, knew he wanted to write since the first grade. He decided to continue on that path and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in journalism in 1990.
He took a job at the Grand Island Independent shortly before graduation. At the Independent, he covered just about every sport one could imagine.
“I remember there was one day when I went from covering junior high softball to Husker football, if that puts anything in perspective,” Sipple said. “It was a four-man staff and we were all editors. We had to be.”
In 1991, after six months at the Independent, he went to work at the Lincoln Journal Star as a copy editor.
After a start in a small town, he was ecstatic to transition to one of the biggest papers in the state.
Sipple later became a reporter and covered everything from bowling to volleyball to high school sports before settling on the Huskers beat in 1995, which he has today.
Sipple said working in sports journalism can involve a lot of work and long hours.
“When going into this you have to realize that it’s long, odd hours. If someone isn’t ready for the profession, it’ll show in the first week. When you’re out covering sports, be prepared to work at some times, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.,” Sipple said.
He said it would be difficult to be successful at his job and work a standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift.
“It’s a life decision you have to make as a writer,” Sipple said. “On the other hand if you want to work the copy desk you can just work set hours if you so choose. The good news is you can be thoroughly involved either way. This job is a certain kind of lifestyle that you have to embrace if you want to go into it.”
It has been more than two decades since Sipple came on to the Journal Star staff and he said he treats each position almost the opposite as when he first started.
“At first I didn’t have a whole lot of desire to become an editor, but once I held that position, even for a little while, it made me learn a lot,” Sipple said. “It helps your writing, grounds you and you can learn everything about anything because I was reading anything and everything.”
Over time, Sipple’s duties have changed quite a bit.
Sipple took his experiences from his humble beginnings and translated them into his writing. He writes about three to four columns a week, which don’t include his articles on HuskerExtra.
“It’s different now with the Internet. I write blogs now about as often as I write my columns. Everything that I write will appear online or in print though, so I’m almost writing six out of the seven days,” he said.
By Landon Caldwell
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
As J.J. Perry was growing up, he did not know he was going to become an editor.
Now that he is executive editor of The American News in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and has years of editing and reporting experience under his belt, he has some advice for journalists and aspiring editors.
“Use social media every day to interact with the outside world and see what’s happening in your community,” said Perry, 43, during a phone interview. “Practice reading, writing and taking notes every day. Take every opportunity you get to grow and become better at what you aspire to do in life.”
As executive editor, Perry has a lot of responsibility.
“I’m the department head of the newsroom,” said Perry. “All my staff members report to me.”
Perry spends a lot of time talking to the readers of The American News. Sometimes the paper is criticized for running a certain story, but he has learned from the mistakes. Also, Perry talks with the editors from each department and decides what should go in that day’s newspaper.
Perry has a team mentality when it comes to the newsroom.
“I want my coworkers to be innovative and give people room to succeed in their work. It’s a team effort from everyone,” said Perry.
Perry’s relationship with The American News publisher, Cory Bollinger, is crucial to succeed in the newsroom, he said. He relies on Bollinger for counsel.
“He counts on people on a high-degree so you try your best to not get him involved in problems you run into,” Perry said. “I consider Cory to be a good friend of mine. He is a very good publisher and loves what he does.”
Perry grew up in South Bend, Indiana. He went to Indiana University Bloomington, graduating with a degree in journalism and a minor in folklore in 1995. He worked at the college newspaper as he studied news and how to report it.
Then, he got a part-time job as a writer at The Herald-Times in Bloomington in 1997, where he wrote about youth sports.
While working at The Herald-Times, he had a mentor who helped him realize what he wanted to do.
“He was fantastic. He was the model of a great guy and a great newsman. I knew I came to the right place at the right time,” Perry said.
After working at The Herald-Times for a while, he moved to the digital department. He sold advertisements and worked on the page design of the newspaper. Perry has also worked as a reporter covering breaking news, sports and weather.
Perry initially didn’t want to leave The Herald-Times when he was offered the job at The American News.
“I didn’t know I would get this opportunity to work as the executive editor of a newspaper. It was tough moving from paper to paper, but it’s great to gain a lot of experience,” he said.
He decided to make the more than 1,000-mile journey to Aberdeen to start fresh as an executive editor. He has been executive editor since October 2010.
Perry said The American News takes news judgment decisions seriously.
“It’s pretty tough as we always ask ourselves ‘What can we do to lessen harm to people, families and communities?’ Telling the truth is the best way to go even though we don’t always get it right,” said Perry.
Another challenge is the the 24/7 news cycle, which has changed journalism on a whole new level, he said.
“People right now are more engaged in news … than ever before,” said Perry. “People are sharing news links and videos they saw that interested them. There is just a lot of information being passed around.”
Perry thinks it’s not so much that the news cycle is changing, but the way the audience views the news.
Perry uses Twitter to tell readers about breaking news.
He pre-writes tweets to make sure he doesn’t miss any important information and uses hashtags.
Communication, especially on social media, is key to building trust between a newspaper and its readers, he said. Perry said using social media is imperative, but people need motivation to get on social media.
“I use social media, at the very least, a couple times a day,” Perry said. “It depends on the day and what is going on in our community.”
The executive editor for the Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colorado, loves her city.
Lauren Gustus has only been the executive editor there for a little more than a year, but she already knows that she’s found the place where she belongs.
“Every day there’s an opportunity for me, for everyone in this room, to learn something new, and, oh by the way, we get to take home a paycheck at the end of the day for doing that. It’s just awesome,” Gustus said in an interview in her office.
As the executive editor, Gustus, 34, makes judgment calls every day in the Coloradoan’s newsroom. As the only community newspaper in Fort Collins, Gustus believes that they are responsible for highlighting not only the beauty and fun in their city, but also where it needs to improve and what is happening politically. She and her coworkers make their decisions to help keep their content balanced and responsible. Each story that they decide to focus their time and attention on needs to have the right voices and adequately reflect the many sides of that story, she said.
While she doesn’t write as much as she used to as a reporter, Gustus still occasionally writes columns. In the spring of 2015, she wrote one on the growth dynamic in Fort Collins. In the past she’s also written about the tone of a conversation about the mayor’s race and about the Coloradoan’s new social issues reporter.
Other than that, she leaves the writing to the rest of the staff in the newsroom.
One big focus in the newsroom is the Coloradoan’s mobile and online presence. Gustus said that she’s been on a “mobile crusade” lately. She believes that since people spend an average of three or four hours on their phones daily, it’s a platform that’s just itching to be utilized.
Along with the Coloradoan’s app, website, Twitter account and Facebook page, Gustus oversees the experimentation with new mobile apps that they might use in the future. She has recently experimented with Meerkat—a live video streaming app. Staff filmed a train going by an intersection and people watched it, indicating to her that it has potential.
Gustus is passionate about the online presence of the Coloradoan. Every story they post is augmented with headlines written for search engine optimization. For example, online a story’s headline will contain “Colorado State” as opposed to “CSU” for the keywords to be recognized by a search engine and the story to appear near the top of a search page. That doesn’t mean that every headline is a conglomeration of keywords with no creativity, she said.
“You could be as dry as toast or you could use a little more flexibility in your headline to develop something that’s more engaging,” she said.
A more creative, but still optimized, headline will be more engaging to readers, drawing them in to click on the content and take the time to read further. Gustus also advocates linking within online stories. Linking to relevant content on other sites as well as other relevant content on your own site, increases credibility.
The life of an online story is not a short one, she said. Posting a story is just the beginning. After it’s published the story is put on social media, optimized, pushed and shared. Finally, it’s revisited and the questions of those who have read it are considered, she said. All of this happens on mobile.
Gustus said, “If we don’t pay attention to mobile we’re dead in the water.”
Gustus’ path to executive editor started with covering high school sports.
Gustus worked at her college paper at Pepperdine University in Southern California. Right out of school she took an internship with the Los Angeles Daily News, covering high school football and doing the scoreboard page for all of the major sports teams. In her time there, she worked her way up and covered everything from high school sports to professional tennis to the NBA finals. There she worked with a lot of other young reporters who were eager to prove themselves, creating a friendly and competitive atmosphere.
After that she worked in Salt Lake City as a reporter and assistant sports editor. From there she was hired to work in Reno, Nevada, at the Reno Gazette-Journal as a sports editor, but bounced around between sports, news and business. Her most memorable career moment was in Reno.
“It still gives me goosebumps to think about, but the story that probably impacted me the most was a school shooting,” she said.
Gustus was one of the first reporters on the scene in October 2013 after a 12-year-old boy shot two classmates, a teacher and then himself. He and the teacher both died. Gustus led coverage of the story in the ensuing days and weeks. The family gave them an intimate look at their lives following the shooting.
Gustus said: “It was heartbreaking to just see them come to terms with the fact that their child got ahold of their gun… That their child was gone.”
When asked about advice for aspiring editors and journalists Gustus had nothing but wise words.
“Get practice in a real-world newsroom,” she said. “There’s something to be said for having to work with people who are doing it for a community that doesn’t look like your community at your school.”
She also advised to be active online and make connections. Most passionate journalists want to talk about their jobs. She also said don’t be discouraged by negative talk about the field.
“There are a lot of great journalists doing really inspiring, life-changing work,” she said, “and I can’t think of a better place to come every day.”
Jon Greenberg trusts his editors.
He understands disagreements will occur and there is a time and place to bring up disagreements.
“I trust my editors. I always do, but you have to pick your battles,” Greenberg, an ESPN Chicago columnist, said in a phone interview.
Greenberg, an Ohio native, has been both an editor and a reporter during his journalism career.
He’s been in journalism since college, has worked for the Associated Press and is the past executive editor for Team Marketing Report. Greenberg started at ESPN Chicago in 2009.
As a Chicago columnist, Greenberg appears on talk radio shows and said it’s important to edit even while talking.
“You say stuff on the radio and you’ll hear from people, more than from what you write,” Greenberg said.
Like many journalists, Greenberg is active on Twitter.
While some reporters take a serious approach, he takes a humorous one.
“People are super serious on there, like word of God type stuff, and I like to have more fun on there,” Greenberg said.
While he likes to keep things light on Twitter, he still edits his tweets.
“At first I didn’t edit myself on Twitter and I got in trouble,” Greenberg said.
At Ohio University, Greenberg worked at the college paper, covering hockey and baseball. He later became assistant sports editor. His senior year he worked at the local newspaper covering sports.
“It was basically a part-time job,” Greenberg said.
He graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. In 2007, he received a master’s degree in creative writing from The University of Chicago.
As a young editor in college, Greenberg had to do what all editors do – deal with a slew of younger reporters.
“People couldn’t write ledes well,” he said. “I probably did too much rewriting as an editor, but I had standards for our paper.”
Editors need to have confidence in themselves, he said. Without confidence, one won’t have the conviction to make the appropriate changes, he said.
“My staff loved me, for the most part. I was eager to talk to them about stories and what was wrong with things,” Greenberg said.
It’s important to have a good relationship with your staff as an editor, he said. The more everyone is on the same page the better. Greenberg enjoyed watching his staff of young reporters progress.
“It was fun to watch someone get better over the years,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg said it’s important to re-read your own work and be a self-editor.
“I used to hate re-reading my stuff until I had a professor just tell me you have to if this is what you want to do,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg has this advice for young editors: “You have to be able to do a lot of things to be a good editor. You have to be able to pay attention to everything.”
As a reporter, it’s important to be open to people pointing out your mistakes, he said. It is better to have someone point it out than never realize you made a mistake in the first place.
“Sometimes I’ll get an email from a reader saying, ‘Hey this is wrong.’ And I’m just like, ‘Shoot, thank you,'” Greenberg said. “I wish my editor would have caught that.”
By Victoria Klafter
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Unique goals present unique problems.
Chance Solem-Pfeifer has discovered this as the managing editor of a small nonprofit publication with a specialized focus.
The publication is called Hear Nebraska and its mission statement declares that it “cultivates Nebraska’s vibrant, fertile music and arts community by providing resources and a voice for bands, artists and members of Nebraska’s creative class and the people and businesses that support them.”
It takes more than one breath to list Solem-Pfeifer’s job duties. He sets the editorial calendar, assigns all stories, publishes all stories on the website, edits, gives feedback to writers, photographers and videographers and manages Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He also writes features and supplemental articles. Because Hear Nebraska is so small and functions as a nonprofit, managing editor has to be a “catch all” job, he said.
Solem-Pfeifer, 24, started working at Hear Nebraska immediately after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2013. He was granted an internship with the possibility of a job down the road. “Down the road” turned out to be just around the corner as he was offered the position of staff writer within a month. He became the managing editor in February 2014, not even a year later.
Solem-Pfeifer, who is originally from Omaha, Nebraska, wasn’t new to covering music and arts. He had accumulated stacks of experience in the Arts and Entertainment section of UNL’s school newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan. He worked for the Daily Nebraskan for four years and served as editor of the Arts and Entertainment section for two and a half years.
Although he was a journalism major for only a year, he made many important connections through the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he hosted a radio show on the student-run station, KRNU-FM.
After his freshman year, Solem-Pfeifer switched to the College of Arts and Sciences and became an English major. He said that this major, with a creative writing emphasis, especially prepared him for his job at Hear Nebraska.
“It clarified how I feel dealing with other people’s work because you always have to know that it’s ultimately the writer’s story and you’re there to tell them what you think is working and what isn’t,” he said in a phone interview.
There’s always a ceiling on how good a piece of journalistic writing can be, he said, and an editor is just there to elevate it.
An editor also sometimes has to shoot down pieces if they don’t align with the publication’s mission. The promotional nature of Hear Nebraska’s mission sometimes presents different kinds of editorial decisions than what normal newspapers might face.
“Sometimes we’ve had a story idea or a feature idea—and even though it might be a decent news story—we’ve had to step back and say, ‘You know this doesn’t really support our mission,’” he said.
Therefore, he said, Hear Nebraska staff has to marry its goals as writers and its promotion of artists in a way that meets the overall goal of the publication.
This doesn’t mean they just publish fluff, though.
Solem-Pfeifer said there is definitely a place for negativity and he and the other editors often approve negative reviews.
“We also often say that it’s a can we don’t want to open,” he said with a laugh.
However, some “cans” should be opened eventually and Solem-Pfeifer and the other Hear Nebraska editorial staff chose to do just that with a recent interview and story. The interview was with the frontman for a well-known hardcore band from Nebraska and the story was intended to be about the band’s recent signing with a national record label.
It wasn’t so straight-forward in reality. The frontman carried a history of resentment against Hear Nebraska for its perceived neglect of genres outside indie rock.
This element cast a dark cloud over the actual news. In the end, the real story was significantly overshadowed by the tense dynamics of the relationship between Hear Nebraska and this musician and his band. Many people who also thought that Hear Nebraska neglects certain genres spoke out on social media with negative comments about the publication and its alleged lack of variety.
So, why would the editors of Hear Nebraska choose to publish that story?
They are “constantly aware” that they need to cover different types of music such as hardcore, which is a genre similar to screamo, electronic dance music, jazz and other genres that aren’t as “immediately visible” as indie rock, Solem-Pfeifer said in an email.
Solem-Pfeifer said that this deficiency can be attributed to several factors that are directly related to Hear Nebraska’s small size and none of which are malicious or purposefully negligent. This is a recognizable gap in Hear Nebraska’s coverage and he said it was important for them to be transparent about their inadequacies.
It’s these types of decisions that make editing a precarious balance between appreciation of art and awareness of reality.
Other editorial decisions that Solem-Pfeifer faces that are unique to Hear Nebraska—because of its exclusively Nebraska-focused mission—arise at national music and arts festivals.
Hear Nebraska recently covered South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Thousands of musicians and bands from all over the nation perform at South by Southwest. Solem-Pfeifer’s main job is to focus his staff’s efforts on Nebraskan bands.
“We want to cover all Nebraska artists because our mission is to make Nebraska music known to people inside the state. So, when bands are out of state we want to champion those people,” he said.
Thus, he must be selective in what bands they’re covering while accurately portraying what the festival embodies as a whole.
Even though Solem-Pfeifer is officially a managing editor for an arts publication, his passion for the arts extends far beyond the boundaries of his job duties.
“My favorite thing about working for Hear Nebraska is the hope and the feeling that I—and we—have a place in a larger conversation about art,” he said. If people are interested in appreciating the beauty and intrigue of art, he said, they are more likely as a community to be socially progressive and conscientious.
Similarly, Solem-Pfeifer said that young journalists and writers need to be aware of their part in the larger discussion.
“Don’t write a review or do an interview without knowing as much as you can about what’s already been written or asked,” he said.
Knowing what has come before can open up new angles for stories and drives discovery in the industry, he said.
“Plus,” he said, “it’s a way to stay motivated.”
By Magdalena Cazarez
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Penelope Leon believes in using her position as editor to educate her community on important issues and current events.
As an editor, she said she has to to think about the greater good of all the people.
“There are causes that need to be told and we have the obligation to tell the community,” said Leon, a part-time copy editor at El Perico, a bilingual newspaper in Omaha.
The newspaper reaches about 25,000 Spanish-speaking residents monthly.
Leon, who has worked at El Perico since March 2014, said a controversial topic has been popular right now. El Perico has covered Legislative Bill 623, which would grant driver’s licenses to children in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“I am very confident that the bill will pass … not because it’s ‘the right thing to do’ or it is a ‘safety’ issue, but because it is an economical issue that will benefit the whole state,” said Leon during an interview in her Omaha office.
Leon said that editors have the power to inform people on important topics, such as LB 623, which affect the community. With that power, comes responsibility. Editors have to be careful with the way they introduce or focus a story, she said. Leon feels strongly about LB623, but as an editor it is her job to be objective.
Leon does not have favorite stories. She said there are too many. Her favorite types of stories are about people, such as a story in El Perico about the young people who would be affected by LB 623.
“We hear about celebrities and important icons on television, radio, everywhere, but when do you read about the local people? Regular people in the community have a story to tell too. They are the stories with emotion – the ones that make you (feel) something when you are reading it. Those are my favorite,” said Leon.
Leon is also the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Outreach Trainer for the Heartland Workers Center in Omaha, which advocates for civic participation, leadership development and voting. In her part-time position, she trains and educates employees who would work in the construction field.
Leon’s advice for beginning editors is to start as a reporter.
Although it was not her cup of tea, it was a position that taught her how to handle many things.
Learn the basics of journalism and execute your skills, she said.
Before she was offered a job with El Perico, Leon was a daily reader of the newspaper.
However, she noticed was something off. The Spanish content was translated perfectly – too perfectly. Leon said the content was awkward and too straightforward.
In the journalism field, she said content is supposed to be direct, but the problem was there was limited creativity and compelling story telling. She expressed her concerns to Editor John Heaston and was offered the editor position.
El Perico was founded in 1999. El Perico means The Parrot, known for receiving and repeating messages.
The newspaper has sections including auto, services, health, entertainment, real estate, employment, sports and social. The newspaper is written in Spanish and English to accommodate for the Latino population in South Omaha.
Leon received a bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism from the Universidad Iberoamerica in Mexico City. Leon began her career as a reporter by creating her own newspaper in Texas. She called the newspaper Supplement or La Voz de la Gente, which means The Voice of the People. Similar to El Perico, the newspaper focused on reporting local news. She gained much of her experience with Supplement in Spanish.
Although reporting was not her expertise, it was her way of putting herself on the other side of the newsroom.
Leon wore many hats. She was the designer, the editor and the reporter of Supplement in Spanish for years.
As technology has advanced, Leon’s daily tasks have become easier.
Advancement in technology allows her to edit her reporter’s stories from her office at Heartland Workers Center, a few blocks from El Perico headquarters. This allows for faster publication, she said.
Every newspaper should know how to communicate digitally in order to stay relevant, Leon said.
Much of the success from El Perico has been being active online, she said. Online journalism has given the newspaper the advantage to reach a wider audience and inform readers on issues affecting their community.
“There are many newspapers that have died out because they have not been able to successfully transition onto online journalism,” she said.