Former UNL student carves a path as a journalist of many trades
By Margaret Baker
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Hilary Stohs-Krause was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wis., and, following in her mother’s footsteps, earned her degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
During her five years at the University of Nebraska, Stohs-Krause worked her way up to being editor-in-chief at the campus newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan, and interned with multiple organizations, including several that offered her international experiences. “I interned at a film festival, on the foreign desk of a national paper, and as a copy editor and designer,” she said.
“Try a wide variety of experiences,” Stohs-Krause said. “It’s definitely good to hone a variety of skills and to at least be competent with a wide variety of media.”
After graduation in 2009, Stohs-Krause spent her summer interning with the Amarillo Globe-News. At the end of the summer, she was hired on full time and stayed with the Globe-News as both a designer and copy editor until she returned to Lincoln in the spring of 2010.
Despite the variety of her experiences and skills, Stohs-Krause emphasizes the importance of focusing on one key skill. “If you can’t write a good story, none of that is really going to matter,” she said, “It all comes down to being able to write.”
When Stohs-Krause started working for NET, Nebraska’s public television and radio network, in February 2011 as a part-time multimedia reporter and online editor, and she found there to be an overlap in writing styles.
“In terms of style, radio vs. print is vastly different.” While Stohs-Krause was learning how to transition from a print style to a broadcast style, the majority of the newsroom was learning how to shift from broadcast to print-style writing.
A lot of news organizations and stations cover stories differently today. “It’s coming up with our own style,” she said, “and figuring out how we want to present content that originates to be heard.”
Some of the challenges Stohs-Krause faces stem from the fact that she works for a public radio station that, like others of similar size, budget and market, has been behind in terms of moving into web and digital media.
“There’s a lot of catching up to do,” she said. “A lot of newspapers have had a website for quite a while, so there’s much more of a standardization in terms of presentation.”
The website that NET had when Stohs-Krause started, almost two years ago, was not very user-friendly. “Everything had to be coded, and we had to have reporters writing HTML. I basically taught [the reporters] how to use HTML,” she said. “For the more complicated aspects, I would go in and do the coding, and I would check all the coding if things weren’t working the way they were supposed to.” These were things broadcast reporters, journalists and editors hadn’t had to worry about before.
Stohs-Krause continues to fill different roles at NET, including in-depth radio reports and multimedia and social media editing.
One unusual aspect about working at NET is that reporters aren’t generally assigned topics. “For the most part we are able to pick our own stories,” Stohs-Krause said.
One area Stohs-Krause chooses to cover concerns the opportunities and challenges women have in Nebraska. “I’ve done pieces on women economics, pieces on women in politics, and pieces on maternal mortality. Right now I’m working on the availability of reproductive sources for women in more rural parts of the state.”
She has also worked on stories with which she was not as familiar.
“I’ve been doing a lot of [agricultural] pieces and environmental projects lately,” she said. Coming from Milwaukee, a city of two million, Stohs-Krause knew little about agriculture or rural life.
“That’s been kind of the challenge − talking to farmers and ranchers and learning about crops and how the weather contributes to the ag economy. All those different facets have been really interesting and definitely something that has been a little bit of a learning curve.”
Just as Stohs-Krause is experiencing a learning curve, the radio industry is continuing to evolve with the emergence of online journalism.
“I think there’s ambition and there’s potential,” she said. “The whole industry is sort of learning how to adjust to all of this. It needs to happen on an individual level, in terms of the reporters themselves, and then also on more of an institutional level.”
NET has put a lot of effort into their new website. As the staff becomes more familiar and more comfortable with taking pictures and brainstorming data for graphics in stories, the web-based content becomes more valuable.
“I think that we can only go up from here,” Stohs-Krause said. “There are definite plans and goals that management are looking at to continue to build our online presence both through our website and through various social media interactivity.”
Stohs-Krause’s experience with some of these new areas has made her a valuable member of the team at NET. “There is perhaps some sense of helping others through things that I have already learned or experienced.”
Stohs-Krause’s position at NET is funded by grant money through September 2013.