Star Tribune editor enjoys the changing world of journalism
By Josh Skluzacek
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
When you’ve been doing a job for almost 35 years, it’s likely you have seen everything.
But that’s not true in journalism.
Howard Sinker, digital sports editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, embraces that aspect of his job.
Although it can be frustrating, Sinker said it’s also very cool that just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes.
Sinker, who admittedly took an unconventional route to get to where he’s at, believes that the staff’s attitude and understanding have helped the Star Tribune grow into one of the leading newspapers in the region.
After graduating from Macalester College, a private liberal arts school in St. Paul, Minnesota, and originally being unsure of what he wanted to make a career in, Sinker had a reporting fellowship in Indianapolis that intensified his desire to write. Soon after that, the Star Tribune hired him to cover high school sports. After some switching between news and sports and almost 30 years of service, he was offered the digital sports editing job where he’s remained for the past five years.
In an interview, Sinker described his journey as a “succession of lucky breaks,” and said, even to this day, “I’m still totally floored I get to do this.” Although he did like covering politics and higher education, this job was a perfect fit for him.
As a 30-year veteran at the Star Tribune, Sinker has been through good and bad. He has seen the Star Tribune become a regional leader, something he takes great pride in.
“We’ve been through a bad time in the industry … and now we’ve emerged as an industry leader.”
He’s especially proud of an online project on the greatest moments at the Metrodome that he and his staff completed.
Sinker knows how quickly things can change, though, and recognizes “the only way to continue thriving is to keep changing.”
He enjoys the fact that every day is different, which is why he’s never really considered leaving the Star Tribune for anywhere else.
“I’ve had a chance to do dramatically different things at the Star Tribune, so it’s comparable to changing jobs.”
The great part about becoming an editor, though, was the fact that it allowed him to have a better family life.
Reporting means you’re traveling or at the editor’s mercy, so switching to editing allowed him to be more involved with his children’s activities, Sinker said.
Sinker has a lot to share with young journalists, and he talked about what he would look for if he were hiring a someone new.
“I want to see good reporting skills … and a variety of writing skills,” he said.
Sinker said he probably wouldn’t hire a sports reporter who hasn’t done news because covering news offers more variety and teaches many different skills.
As far as the editing world, Sinker said he believes journalists are becoming much better at self-editing, mainly out of necessity.
“There are less people to edit things, so writers have to take more responsibility,” he said.
Sinker also acknowledged that sometimes stories simply don’t have time to be edited in certain situations, making it the writer’s job to edit his or her work. It’s more important to have that ability today. Doing a good job helps the public maintain a high level of trust in what you’re reporting.
That’s why, Sinker said, although it’s important to be quick, “being accurate and providing context is the most important thing.”
Focus on that if you want to succeed — something Sinker understands well.