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Lincoln copy editor/page designer says news is always on her mind

Heather Price sits at her desk in the Lincoln Journal Star Newsroom.

Story and photo
by Bethany Schmidt
University of Nebraska

News is everywhere and it’s hard escaping it, especially when it’s your job to cover it.

This is especially true for Heather Price. As a copy editor/page designer, she spends most of her evenings in the Lincoln Journal Star newsroom reading through stories and designing the newspaper pages they will be published on.

Although she works through the evening producing the next morning’s paper, Price’s day is consumed with news. “Even when I’m not working, I’m thinking about news,” Price said in an interview.  The Lincoln Journal Star staffers “have a shared Google docs page that has all of the (news) budgets listed on it,” so Price is able to check in on the list of the day’s stories while at home. She then begins to think about how her pages might look even before she goes into work.

This page that Price designed (from July 29, 2011) made the Newseum's top 10 pages of the day.

Her day begins earlier at home when she is looking through the Journal Star budgets, but Price generally goes into work around 4 p.m.  (the time most people would be leaving their own jobs). Upon entering the Journal Star newsroom, her work-night will be filled with proofing stories, arranging elements on her pages and making sure everything looks just right. Her trick for staying focused all night: caffeine—green tea, especially. “I go to the Mill (coffee house) probably two times a night,” Price said.

When asked about the odd hours, Price said that she had to get used to the time difference. “I can’t go to bed right away when I get home; I need time to wind down, especially if the night has been stressful,” Price said.

"This page was just a fun way to use some color on a rather slow news day and make a design pop more," Price said.

Price not only has unusual work hours, she also has an unusual workweek: She works Tuesday through Saturday nights—her weekend is Sunday and Monday. Also, the Lincoln Journal Star publishes an edition of its paper every day of the year: “The paper never stops and that’s one thing that people outside of the news industry don’t seem to realize,” Price said. This means that Price works many holidays. Price also said she sometimes misses out on concerts or hanging out with friends because of her unusual schedule.

Even though her schedule is out of the norm, Price hopes to stick with the odd hours in the future and continue as a newspaper designer. “I want to move to a bigger paper that’s known for innovative design,” Price said. A larger city is also an appealing option down the road.

These plans are a big change from her relatively small town newspaper career so far. Price started out as a slot editor at the Daily Nebraskan (the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s student newspaper) and eventually went on to work as a copy editor and page designer at the Aberdeen American News in South Dakota.

Heather’s advice for budding editors: “(Editors) most obviously need a great knowledge of AP style. (They should also) definitely be able to adapt to a paper’s style.”

Heather finds inspiration from fellow designers like Colin Smith and also keeps up with innovative design through the Charles Apple blog.

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  1. December 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

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