Reporting skills are necessary in all journalistic roles
By Jordan Huesers
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
As a young senior in high school, Tomari Quinn found her passion for reporting. She loved the excitement of chasing a story and digging deep to find tough answers. She never thought she would be an editor one day — the buzz of being a reporter was just too satisfying. However, now after many years in the newspaper business, Quinn is editor and director of audience development at The Topeka Capital-Journal in Topeka, Kan.
Quinn attended Kansas State University where she worked at The Collegian.
After graduation, she got her first job at the Garden City Telegram,here she worked for seven years. She made her way to be the assistant managing editor there and then received a phone call from The Topeka Capital-Journal — her hometown newspaper — offering her a job. Quinn worked her way up at the paper starting as a copy editor, features editor, assistant managing editor and managing editor. After 10 years at The Topeka Capital-Journal, she now serves at the editor and director of audience development. In a phone interview, she offered insight into her journalism career.
Q: How did you get into journalism?
A: Growing up, I always enjoyed writing, and I started exploring that when I was a senior in high school. I then got a job at the student publication at K-State my freshman year, and I thought this would give me the opportunity to be near a daily newspaper and see if that was something I wanted to pursue. I very quickly got caught up in the rush of excitement when people were chasing a big story. I then recognized how valuable information was and to have an organization doing watchdog journalism and that was that warehouse of information for the community. I continued to pursue journalism and have done that ever since.
Q: Did you ever imagine yourself as an editor?
A: I really didn’t. I really loved being a reporter. But when I was a reporter at [the Garden City Telegram], I had to do things outside of reporting and writing. We had a school page, and I wanted to lay it out and decide the content of the page, and even as a reporter I was able to do some editing and was given some decision-making ability for that page. So when they approached me about being an editor, I decided to apply for that. I didn’t really think about leaving reporting because I think there is still quite a bit of reporting to do no matter what your job is in the newsroom. It just gives me the opportunity to influence how we put together the daily product. So no, it was never me thinking I was going to be an editor; it was me thinking I was going to be a reporter.
Q: What is your average day like?
A: You know, the thing about being at the Capital-Journal is that there is no average day. It really is dictated by the news of the day and trying to find that great story or that information that is going to matter to the community. I come in anywhere from 9 to 9:30, and from there I work one on one with reporters, photographers and staffers while we are pulling together content. We having meetings at the desks in the afternoons to talk about what content we want to make sure we get in the next day and what stories will go where. Then, I usually try to get out of here by 6:30. You want to be able to really stay in touch with your staff members and be communicating about the work they are doing.
Q: What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?
A: It’s when a reporter finds a really good story. We then try to figure out the best way to gather the information to present to the readers in a way that will make them want to read it and recognize that this is information they need to know.
Q: What aspect do you enjoy the least? A: I don’t think anyone really enjoys paperwork. There’s a lot of paperwork I have to do, you know, signing off on reports and double checking stuff like that. That’s never fun.
Q: If you were to give advice to young journalists looking to get a job, what would it be?
A: From the opportunities I’ve had to interview over the years, you can really tell when somebody is enthusiastic about the craft. They are eager to get going; they didn’t just sit in the journalism classes because they have to attend them. They’re trying to be a sponge and soak up as much information as they can. You want someone who reads as many newspapers and online sites as they can; they come in bursting with ideas. If somebody has that level of enthusiasm, it’s difficult not to hire them when you have a job opening.