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Hastings editor offers a peek at hidden side of journalism

Managing Editor Amy Palser of the Hastings Tribune

By Chloe Gibson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Not many people see the editing side of newspapers. Unlike a reporter or photographer’s role, editing is hidden.

But Amy Palser, the managing editor of the Hastings Tribune said editing is her favorite part of journalism.

Palser, who is from Denver, graduated from Hastings College in Hastings, Neb., with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism.  Originally a broadcast major, an editing career was not on her radar.

“After I started doing broadcast at Hastings College, I thought, ‘Wow this is really boring,’ so my mom suggested I write for newspapers,” Palser said in a phone interview.

 After an internship at the Hastings Tribune between her junior and senior year, she was hooked.

“They offered me a full-time job before I even graduated,” Palser said.  “I was very content working as a reporter for about three years but when a job as news director opened up, I applied.”

Palser took the job and began her journey in the behind-the-scenes part of newspapers.

Palser said that being the news director was a big change for her, but experience had helped her succeed.  “I had a solid three years of writing behind me.  I knew style and I knew what stories should have,” Palser said.  “These are things that all journalism majors need to know.”

In 2005, Palser and her husband had their first child.  Palser decided that being a mother was her first priority and left the newspaper.  She stayed away from newspapers for the next six years.  Palser had a second child and said she didn’t know if she would ever return to the Hastings Tribune.  Then, in the summer of 2011, the managing editor retired and Palser decided to apply.  She got the job.

“The whole time away from newspaper I honestly didn’t miss it, but when this position opened up my husband actually suggested it to me,” Palser said.  She was pregnant at the time but, “Hastings Tribune let me come back for two months and then I had my son who is 8 weeks now.  Then, I stayed at home for six weeks.  I’ve really enjoyed coming back because this is what I really want to do.  It’s fun to work with people who like the news.”

Now that Palser is settling in to her role as managing editor she said things have changed significantly since her previous stint in a newsroom.  With the development of social media, Palser said it is important to keep up with how people choose to get their news.

“We do tweet, have a Facebook and obviously a website that we constantly update,” Palser said.  “We feel like this is what you have to do to keep newspapers going.  There has been so much talk about newspapers dying out.  We do not think that.  We just think newspapers need to get on board with social media.  Things like Twitter and Facebook have just allowed us to remain in closer, better contact with our readers,” she said.

Communication with readers is key for young journalism students to understand, Palser said.

Journalists must have “knowledge of AP Style and a critical eye and critical mind,” she said.  “They need to know when a story doesn’t make sense and when a story is incomplete.  They need to be decent writers so they can change writing if need be.”

Palser also said that being a leader in the newsroom helps put a person on the fast track to becoming an editor.

“I would say write like crazy and report like crazy and read newspapers, read great newspapers that have good stories to read,” Palser said.  “Also just having readership skills because as an editor you need to be able to explain why something needs to be re-done.  If you’re not a leader, I think you would be a poor editor,” she said.

To be successful, newspapers have to keep changing.

“I think if journalists don’t step up and embrace the other mediums, then the papers will die out, but I think papers can thrive if they do embrace the different mediums,” Palser said.  “There is depth in reporting that you can’t get from TV or radio and if papers keep doing that well, they will keep their readership up because they’re offering a product you cannot get anywhere else.”

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