Home > finals > RedEye features editor tells journalism students to do it all

RedEye features editor tells journalism students to do it all

Curt Wagner, right, with actor Shane West at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.

By Ally Phillips
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Curt Wagner advises today’s journalism students to try a lot of different things.

He should know. Since graduating in 1989 from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he’s had many different roles in journalism.

He spent time at the Fremont Tribune in Nebraska, The News-Dispatch in Michigan City, Ind., the Chicago Tribune and RedEye in Chicago, Ill. Now, Wagner is the features editor for RedEye and has his own television blog, Showpatrol.

Since working for the Tribune Co., he has been a make-up editor, page designer, copy editor, features editor, television columnist and has worked on the national and foreign copy desk. And that, he said, has been beneficial.

“I kind of feel like everybody should experience a lot of different stuff because a lot of people don’t know what happens after they write a story,” Wagner said.

Wagner joined RedEye, a news and entertainment publication started by the Tribune Co. , when it launched 10 years ago. The five-day-a-week publication is aimed at people from ages 18 to 30.

“I get bored easy and it was a cool opportunity,” Wagner said. “It was a brand new product and it was something that wasn’t being done in the industry. It was a cool chance to be in something from the start.”

As the features editor, Wagner has many responsibilities. He checks the Internet for up-and-coming news in entertainment, decides where ads go in the paper, edits stories and helps designers with page layouts, to name a few.

His biggest challenge: “I would say just generating those story ideas and finding fresh news things that people don’t know about.”

RedEye has made the transition from print to more online content  smoothly, Wagner said.

“I think we’ve caught up and are doing pretty well,” Wagner said.

A few weeks ago, RedEye launched its iPad app. The app is a five-day publication, like the paper, and is offered by iTunes.

“It’s just a really different and cool way to experience the paper,” Wagner said. “Even if it’s the same story it seems like a different thing because of the way the app works and all of the things you can do with it.”

Wagner thinks today’s journalism students should be willing to try new things.

“Experience everything you can, like every side of the business you can, and really know what it is you end up wanting to do,” he said. “And then work on that and do that really well. Don’t be lazy. And don’t feel like you’re entitled to anything; work your ass off.”

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