He didn’t plan to be editor, but he loves it
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Senior editor for BEEF Magazine, Burt Rutherford, did not start his college career wanting to be a journalist. Through a series of life happenings and what he believes to be a little intervention from God, Rutherford now can’t think of a better place to be.
Rutherford did not have one straight or direct path that led him to where he is today. It took nearly dropping out of college and changing his major before discovering what he enjoyed and was passionate about. He had initially started his undergraduate education studying agricultural business, but things were not going quite as planned. In the meantime, a graduate assistant in one of his English classes asked him to enter one of his articles into a contest. That helped him realize he had an interest in writing.
After switching from agricultural business to agricultural journalism, Rutherford found his niche. Through a series of internships and various jobs, he landed the senior editing position at BEEF Magazine in 2007. “I can take very little credit for my career path,” he said. “If not for that graduate assistant, and how God used him to influence me, I have no idea what I’d be doing today, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be senior editor of BEEF.”
In a world where electronic journalism is so quickly emerging, Rutherford feels that the role of an editor is even more important than before. He approaches the articles he edits in a two-step process. First, he reads for spelling, and proofreads for mistakes. Then he reads again for content, and to make sure that sentences flow and that the piece reads well. His biggest concern in the digital space is that people do not properly edit their own work, which leaves a lot of room for mistakes. He advises reading the article at least two times, but preferably three.
Rutherford enjoys the flexibility and convenience of working from home, but also finds that it is easy for him to stay and work in his office all hours of the day. To break up the monotony of his day, he enjoys taking breaks to train his puppy and go for walks.
Rutherford’s advice for writers of all experience levels is to “Learn the language and how to use it correctly. Then be willing to work hard and never stop trying to get better.”
“I have never had a formal, or even informal, career plan. Instead, I focused all my energy on the task at hand with the intent of doing the job to the very best of my ability. So my career has been a combination of constantly trying to be as good as I can be, of letting my work speak for me, and knowing as many people as possible.”