Digital editor says students should keep an open mind
By Ruth Oliver
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jonathan García started as a broadcast and communications major at Evangel University in Springfield, Mo. Soon after, he transferred to Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, S.D., to major in network administration. Although his path to becoming the digital editor for KETV NewsWatch 7 wasn’t a straight shot, he said he fell into something he liked. During a phone interview, García reassured future editors that it’s OK to be unsure of what lies ahead.
Q: How did you come upon becoming the digital editor for KETV?
A: I applied for an entry-level job at KELO TV in Sioux Falls for five years. I had a few things on my resume that were web-related so I got offered a job on the condition that I’d work with the website. Someone called me from Omaha and I interviewed there at KETV and got the job a little over a year ago.
Q: What’s your typical workday as the online editor like?
A: A typical day would be making sure I’m up to speed on what stories we’re covering during the day. The website mirrors the TV side. Paying attention to where reporters are going, what they have access to and seeing how I can incorporate that to the story online are part of my workday.
Q: How do you organize online content to ensure readers will respond to it the best?
A: It’s usually trial and error. Since I’ve been there for so long I get a feel for what people are interested in and we have real-time tools to see what they’re clicking on. If something isn’t performing well we can assess it and find ways to fix it.
Q: If any, what are some challenges you face as the digital editor?
A: I would say that communication always seems to be a challenge, but that comes with any job. It’s a big deal because the online world is still taking off and growing. It’s not a traditional media outlet. To get reporters to think about the website, I have to constantly remind people to get information. It’s not all about the 5 o’clock news or the minute they’ll be on TV. I’m not out there covering stories, but I am the one translating it for the website. Also, technology isn’t perfect. A big challenge is how it’s so immediate and can spread so quickly. Because of this, accuracy is important and facts need to be checked.
Q: What are your thoughts on the social media/online revolution that journalism is facing?
A: People aren’t waiting for the next morning newspaper. If they hear something has happened, then they’re going to go straight to their phone or iPad to find what interests them. There are more things taking up our attention now. We can choose what we want to hear. We seek it out rather than what a newspaper or newscast would show us.
Q: Adding to that, what type of work do you do with social media outlets for KETV?
A: I run the station’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. We try to set it up so that the headlines for stories go straight across. Although Facebook gives us the most referrals to our website, a lot of people get news from Twitter, but not many people click the link. It’s more valuable for us to get people connected on Facebook. People are seeing stories that they wouldn’t normally see because their friends are commenting about it. We also have to think about the revenue and how our ads are reaching people. Facebook can be something that keeps people from our website, but it can be helpful if we’re giving them access to content in the form of a link.
Q: What are your thoughts on the similarities between print and online editing?
A: They have a lot of overlaying similarities in the style of writing. I use that as an example because when I’m converting stories from broadcast to online people can’t see what they’d normally see on the video. They’re reading your words instead of listening and watching.
Q: As an editor, what would you say is the most important editing skill a journalism student could have coming out of college?
A: I think students need to be open to new things. You may be going to school for a certain thing, but that not might be how you do it once you get there. You might have gone to school because you wanted to be on TV or write for a newspaper, but being open to the idea that everyone has to start somewhere is important.