World-Herald editor strives in social media driven journalism
By Teddy Lampkin
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Thad Livingston, sports editor with the Omaha World-Herald, has been working in journalism for close to 20 years, and he credits his start to a college English professor.
“She was impressed with a paper I had written, so she was going to recommend to the newspaper adviser that he make room for me on the newspaper staff,” he said. A couple of semesters later, Livingston found himself as the editor of the college newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
After graduating, he landed a job as a city government reporter with the Hastings Tribune. “I worked long hours there for 10 years, moving up to managing editor by the age of 27,” he said.
Livingston soon resigned and moved to South Carolina, where he accepted an editing position at The Sun News in Myrtle Beach. Another transition occurred four years later, when he moved to Omaha to become an assistant sports editor at the World-Herald. A year later he was named sports editor.
Working as a sports editor at the state’s largest newspaper company can definitely be a hassle, but Livingston steps up to the plate for the job. “I grew up in the state,” he said, “and I understand what is important to sports fans in Nebraska and the important role the World-Herald has in delivering sports news to them.”
Having readers who care about the paper and facing the challenge of filling their plates better than any other news organization are what Livingston says he likes most about his job.
But there’s a flip side to that coin. Long hours − and not being able to control those hours − top Livingston’s list of the non-enjoyable parts of his duties.
Editing stories from a weak writer is also near the top of that list, though editing is not the only thing editors are responsible for. “I do all kinds of stuff. Editing stories is just one of many duties,” Livingston said. “The hardest thing about my job would be having the stamina to meet the expectations of our readers every day.”
Another, more recent difficulty for editors − and all journalism professionals − is social media. The influence that Twitter, Facebook and other similar tools have on people is huge, and it seems that the hold that social media has on the world gets stronger every day. “It’s made journalism a lot harder,” Livingston said. “There are a lot of non-journalists out there dealing in non-truths, non-reporting and rumor.”
Today, any news organization without a website is most likely struggling, as more and more people rely on online sources for their news and information. “In 10 years, the actual hold-it-in-your-hand newspaper will have gone bye-bye,” Livingston said.
Dealing with technology and social media can give a news organization a chance to build credibility. People appreciate a company that can change with times while still providing a great product. “You either have credibility or you don’t,” Livingston said. “Those seeking information know where to go for the truth or strong opinions. That’s a position of strength.”