Lincoln city editor juggles print and website for reporting news
By Liang Xiang
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Todd Henrichs joined the Lincoln Journal Star sports department in 1997. He became an assistant sports editor in 1999 and was named sports editor in 2007. Now, he supervises the city desk, which includes reporters and editors, and constitutes the largest component of the news staff. In this phone interview, he talked about his job, journalism, and advice for students.
Q: Where did you attend college?
A: Actually, I attended the University of Nebraska. I began with an accounting major and after a year and a half, I discovered that I have a passion for journalism, and so I switched to a double major. I finished my accounting degree but I also got the journalism degree. I graduated in 1988.
Q: What is your typical workday like?
A: I come in typically around 9 a.m. Usually I look over the papers before I come in to check out the websites. And I will oversee not only our news operation for the print-products but also over news presentation on the websites. I have several meetings, where we talk about planning for both print product and the management of the Web product. As the day goes on, I edit the stories and determine their placement, working with reporters and editors to make stories better. I determine placement for the websites when stories go up, where they go up, and how long they stay up. Typically, I will be done about 7 p.m.
Q: What do you like least about your job?
A: It’s a good question. I wish that I had more time in my day to make sure everything is better. I am thought to be a perfectionist and there are so many things involved in putting together the daily paper, planning for weekend papers, and managing the website that I am not able to be as hands on with every story that I would like. I guess it’s something related to what I like least and something that I struggle with the most.
Q: Do you have the feeling that nobody recognizes you for the work you do?
A: For me, it is a little bit different. Coming from sports, I was a writer and I was a columnist. You know your name is on the paper everyday. A lot of people do not really understand what job an editor has and what things editors do. Determining what stories make it into the paper, how the stories are reported, what story to follow up on as days go on, and how stories are determined to put on the front page: These are all the decisions that I do not think readers understand.
Q: Do you think newspapers are going to go out of business?
A: I think it will be newspapers who make decisions to no longer have print products seven days a week. They will still have a website, they may still have print products on a couple days of a week. They may have digital products that replicate the print products. That does not mean that they are no longer in the business of journalism; it just means their model to present the news is changing. And I think all newspapers will be making those kinds of decisions probably for the next five years. And where we will be in five years, what model will we have for delivery the news for five years, I don’t know. But I think in a lot markets it will still be printed newspaper seven days a week, but I don’t think that it will be the case of all markets. A lot would depend on what the reader’s appetite is for news and how they want it delivered to them.
Q: Do you have any advice to journalism students?
A: To take every opportunity to read, whether that be books, newspapers or historical information. Reading a written word and writing are always going to help you prepare for a career. Now in the new media world, you have to build skills by thinking more about how things are presented on the Web, how things are presented on mobile sites, and how your friends use news and want news delivered to them. I think it is important to learn what the model is out there for journalism and also to know as much as you can about the business. Do some research on what readers want and how they want to use the information. So I think all these are important for a young journalist to prepare for a career.