Small-town paper editor still doing well in print publication
By Preston Thiemann
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Linda Bryant’s position as the managing editor, advertising manager and publisher of the Voice News requires her to do many different jobs over the course of a workday.
Bryant and her husband, Bill, bought the Voice in 1982. The paper covers parts of Otoe, Johnson, Gage, Cass and Lancaster counties in Nebraska. This weekly paper covers many stories, regarding local schools, governments, churches and other events.
“Every day is different,” Bryant said of her position at the Voice. She listed some of her duties, including assigning stories, designing ads and promo pieces for the Voice, answering questions and problems from readers who call in and training new ad sales staff.
“Even taking out the trash occasionally,” she added, providing a good example of how much each person has to do at a smaller publication.
Bryant also pointed out how the Internet has changed the way the Voice operates, just like almost every other news source. “The Internet has improved our ability to tell the story,” Bryant said.
The Voice’s website has the stories from the front page of the paper, births and obituaries, videos and photos, weather, advertisements and other features. Readers can even view the front page of the most recent paper. The Voice’s website contains a variety of information for those looking for local news in this area, and Bryant’s job as an editor has changed a lot because of this advancement in technology.
However, unlike many daily newspapers, the growing popularity of online news hasn’t really affected the print publication of the Voice. This is mainly because, according to Bryant, “You can’t find out what is happening in Firth on MSN or other news websites. Just the Voice is interested in Firth’s news every day.”
This is one of the primary advantages that small-town, local newspapers have over the publications with much larger distributions. National and even statewide news can be found fairly easily online, leading to people reading the print publications less and less.
However, the local news that people living in smaller towns are going to care about isn’t going to be covered many places online, so the coverage by smaller newspapers is incredibly valuable to the people in these areas, according to Bryant. Editors like her will be able to continue working on print publications at small, local newspapers for a long time.
When asked what advice she would give to journalism students who were considering becoming editors, Bryant focused a lot on the rules of writing. “Really pay attention in writing and grammar classes,” she said. “Punctuation is very important, as is spelling and grammar.” She also said, “Be a perfectionist when it comes to accuracy.”
Bryant also advised journalism students to make sure they keep themselves open to many types of writing. “Do lots of reading of all kinds of publications to get comfortable with all kinds of writing styles,” she said.
In a society where news is a global commodity, it’s easy to forget about smaller, local newspapers and the benefits they have. But, as Bryant pointed out, they provide an important service to people who live in smaller communities and care about what’s going on within these areas.