Bold Nebraska editor Jane Kleeb talks blogs and politics
By Shelby Fleig
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jane Kleeb is the founder and editor of Bold Nebraska, a political blog focused on Nebraska lawmakers and officials. While this is her first job as an editor, Kleeb has always had an active role in communicating and writing. Kleeb also always has had a passion for politics; she was the national executive director of Young Democrats of America.
A range of tasks makes every day at Bold Nebraska different for Kleeb, but she enjoys editing all kinds of content both for her site and any non-profits she may be working with at a given time.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I have my master’s in international training and education, and I focused a lot in that program on non-profit management and advocacy. I have my B.A. in religious studies with minors in leadership studies and women and gender studies. I’ve never formally studied communication; it’s just always something I’ve naturally been drawn to in my work.
Q: What is your editing history?
A: This is the first time that I’ve edited a full-scale blog. My experience before this was really working as the communications person within non-profits.
Q: Did you ever imagine yourself as an editor?
A: No, and I think my family would laugh at that. I always thought of myself as a communicator, more of a pundit talker on radio and TV shows. But this is a whole new world to me that I really started focusing on the last few years.
Q: What is a typical day at work for you?
A: In the morning, it’s mostly checking in on Twitter and Facebook to see what folks are talking about. That’s how we figure out what we should include on our roundup; we have a daily roundup of news and tidbits we do on the site. After that, editing the roundup. We have interns and staff that are assigned each day to that, so I then edit their work. In the afternoon, if the news is hot, I may be writing a blog post. I may be writing a press release or speech either for myself or for a landowner we are working with through a non-profit. I definitely also edit TV ads. We work in coalition with national groups working on the pipeline. You know, I edited a TV ad earlier today, so it can range from anything.
Q: What aspect of editing do you enjoy the most?
A: I think I enjoy editing new media stuff the most. Editing speeches, while I enjoy that, I find I connect with new media work and editing blog post or small things like Facebook ads or Twitter campaigns. While they are fewer in words, you really have to be focused. It has a connection to action, which is what I like the most.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face as an editor?
A: Politics, which is the thread in all of the work we do on the Bold site, can be very complicated and feel sometimes too ‘inside baseball.’ We need to balance making sure people have enough information but not get too into the weeds where we lose people’s interest or they feel like they aren’t smart enough or politically connected enough to follow what we’re saying. That’s the toughest part.
Q: When looking at potential employees, what skills do you consider?
A: That’s a good question. It’s always the fire in the belly. Have they proven, without being paid and in their spare time, writing articles and following politics something they’re driven to do? You really need to know politics and advocacy and who the newsmakers and opinion leaders are if you are able to write blog posts about them. Obviously, writing style. Blogs are more conversational than traditional newspapers, so somebody with a conversational writing style is definitely something we look for.
Q: Are there any differences in attention to grammar in the blog world versus the traditional newspaper world?
A: In the blog world, online media has become much more professionalized. This is true, even since about three years ago. People have become much more aware of grammar and style in blogs. Popular political blogs have picked it up and with traditional reporters now being online, it has become much more professionalized even in casual blogs.
Q: What is the best editing advice you have been given or can give?
A: Keep an AP Stylebook on your desk at all times. I lived and died by a lot of advocacy media guides that were given to me. Picking up those types of books, even ‘Editing for Dummies,’ will help. While those skills will come naturally eventually, nobody should feel stupid for referring back to those. I still do, even now.