Music website editor: His job requires editing just about everything
By Matthew Masin
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Editors fill many roles: editing copy, designing pages, writing headlines and editing photos, to name a few.
The way Michael Todd sees it — if it can be edited, it’s his job to do it.
Todd is managing editor of Hear Nebraska, a nonprofit website that focuses on music native to the state. Todd is the only paid employee of Hear Nebraska, which depends on many contributors. So he has a chance to do it all.
The biggest perk to his job, he said, is his relationship with his bosses, Andy and Angie Norman, the founders of Hear Nebraska. Being able to contact his boss at any time of the day simplifies everything, he said. And having bosses who are spouses helps too. “It’s nice have that loving family that I can be a part of.”
A high school teacher got Todd on the track to being a journalist. Having a teacher that believed in his ability to write made Todd believe he could write well. “I also wanted to do something that would be creative,” he said, “but not so unsuccessful, like a musician or an artist.”
Once he came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Todd started to gain experience as an editor. He can’t remember if he started editing at the Daily Nebraskan before or after taking a Beginning Editing class with Sue Burzynski Bullard, an associate professor in the journalism college. Either way, Todd gives Bullard’s class credit for making him realize he would actually enjoy being an editor.
Working as a copy editor at the Daily Nebraskan sealed the idea. “Once you become a copy editor at the DN that’s like the nail in the coffin,” he said. “As a reporter, you can be on the periphery, but once you’re an editor, you’re down at the DN every night.”
Todd relates editing to his daily life. “I learned that I enjoy cleaning stories up just as much as I enjoy vacuuming and dusting,” he said. “It’s just a really methodical sort of task that I enjoy.”
Because Hear Nebraska is an online publication, Todd can work from his home. “I wake up around 8:30 a.m. or so, I don’t get dressed or anything, I just open my computer and normally there is one or two stories that are ready to edited,” Todd said.
Hear Nebraska focuses on the use of hyperlinks and adding multimedia into stories. “So, rather than just being a copy editor, I’m also a designer, web-guy, tech support and promoter. It’s a lot of things rolled into one.”
Once stories are edited and designed, Todd posts them at 11 a.m., the peak hour for Facebook posts.
By noon, Todd is just getting dressed for the day. He grabs some lunch before heading back to his laptop to prepare more stories for the 3 p.m. social media rush hour.
“Facebook is our biggest traffic driver,” he said. “So it’s important to make sure the most people see the posts at the right time. We’ve done research and found out 11 a.m. seemed to be the best time.”
Knowing that not all journalism students will become editors, he wants to remind students to never forget their days in editing class or editing at the DN.
“Copy editors feel really underappreciated,” he said, “so if they turn into turn into reporters or managing editors, they should always know that copy editors are there trying to fix things.”