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Lincoln Journal Star editor offers advice to aspiring journalists

By Tyler Thomas
University of Nebraska- Lincoln

Dave Bundy is the Lincoln Journal Star editor.

Dave Bundy is the Lincoln Journal Star editor.

Being the editor of a newspaper isn’t always easy, but it does have its rewards.

Dave Bundy is the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star. Bundy became the editor of the paper in March 2012, after a newspaper career that spanned 25 years and jobs in several states. He had worked at the Journal Star earlier as a news editor.

The best part of being a journalist, he said, is helping others. He once published a story about someone struggling with cancer. Readers donated nearly $10,000 to help the person.

The toughest part of being an editor, he said, is the blame he gets simply for being the editor. At times, people are upset about something that appears in the paper even if the information is correct. He said he was once blamed for a suicide because the death occurred after a story about the person had appeared in the paper. It’s difficult to deal with people who are angry simply because you’ve done your job.

It’s also tough when reporters and editors disagree on approaches to a story. Take a story on gas prices. One person may want to focus on the impact of prices on people. The other may want to focus on prices themselves and what’s expected in the future. As editor, Bundy gets the final call.

Bundy said he didn’t always want to be an editor. But he discovered he wasn’t a strong reporter and didn’t like it much.

Editors, he said, need to understand language and grammar.

His best advice for aspiring editors:  “Pretend you don’t know anything and ask what you care about.”

He said his willingness to talk and meet with others helped him succeed. He also learned to edit with a light touch. Learning to simply edit a story, rather than change it, makes for better team work.

But being the editor does come with everyday pressures. An editor has to communicate well with the team. About 70 people work at the Journal Star and each person has a role in the final product. Editors have to understand everyone’s role and how it fits in the daily workflow.

Good stories develop much more easily when everyone works together.

Overall, Bundy said he loves his job and doesn’t plan to change anytime soon.

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