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Even in Minnesota, journalists don’t get snow days

By Lani Hanson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Kate Parry is the assistant managing editor for the special projects and features at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Photo courtesy of Kate Parry

Kate Parry is the assistant managing editor for the special projects and features at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Photo courtesy of Kate Parry

Even when a spring snowstorm drops 11 inches of snow on the Twin Cities overnight, journalists don’t take snow days. Kate Parry knows this all too well.

“We are here 365 days a year,” Parry said in a phone interview on April 4. “Even if the weather is horrible and we’re hearing that everybody else is having a snow day — we come to work.”

Parry describes the world of journalism as “constant.” However, as the assistant managing editor for the special projects and features departments at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Parry’s schedule is largely dependent on whether she is deep in a project.

“To a great extent, I’ve stepped out of the daily fray,” Parry said. “My life really changes when I have a big project going on.”

The most recent of these projects was a four-part series called “Saving Bobbi” about a child victim of sex trafficking, which can now be purchased in e-book format.

“Publishing is a whole different world I’m learning about,” Parry said. “That’s kind of under the special projects umbrella of what I do.”

Now, Parry is preparing a book serial to run this summer on the features section cover. Her responsibilities include negotiating a contract with an author, editing and developing an e-book, as well as splitting the book up for serialization in the paper.

“The way that you present information on screen is different than you would present it in the printed paper,” Parry said. “That’s one of the reasons I do e-books. When you’re working on this long-form journalism, it’s not very satisfying to read scrolling through a website or clicking through multiple pages. It’s a very pleasant reading experience in e-book format.”

Parry has worked on several e-books, all of which can be purchased via the Star Tribune website. The first, titled “In the Footsteps of Little Crow” is a historical narrative of the U.S.-Dakota War, told through the story of Little Crow, the leader of the 1862 rebellion.

“There was a huge response to it,” Parry said of the e-book. “Way beyond what we thought. I thought if we sold a couple hundred, that would be a great experiment. We ended up selling more than 6,000 and we were on The New York Times e-book bestseller list with it.”

Parry describes her project work as an extension of her position in the features department. She enjoys the creative atmosphere that accompanies her job.

“When you’re in metro — which I’ve done a couple times—it’s creative, but a lot of news presents itself,” she said. “When you’re attached to a features department, for the most part, it’s pure creativity. It’s people picking up something that wouldn’t be there if they didn’t pick it up.”

Although Parry’s daily schedule is constantly changing, she tries to get out every day at noon to walk across the Stone Arch Bridge, as long as the weather isn’t bad and the sidewalks aren’t too icy.

“I think it’s very important for creative people to get exercise in their day,” she said.

Parry says that despite the incredible revolution in technology she’s lived through in the last couple decades, her advice for current journalism students hasn’t changed.

“It remains incredibly important to write well,” she said. “Whether you’re writing a tweet or a blog or a story, it’s important to remember that [writing] is the core of all of this.”

She’s also optimistic about the future of journalism, noting that when the readership of the online and printed newspaper is combined, the Star Tribune has never had more readers.

“When something very serious is happening, the place people still go for verified information and information they can trust is the newspaper,” Parry said. “Even in digital form.”

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