Kansas City editor hopes to invigorate paper’s entertainment page
By Chris Nelson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The idea of becoming a reporter has tempted Kansas City Star Assistant Features Editor Sharon Hoffmann since she was a student at the University of Kansas.
Being an editor certainly wasn’t her first choice. “I never wanted to be an editor, at least not at first,” Hoffmann said. “Especially in school I truly wanted to be a reporter of some sort, it just never panned out like I expected.”
Now she’s happy to be an editor of the Star’s Entertainment page, working with other reporters and editors on the movies and lifestyle coverage.
Staying within her home state, she became an intern at her future paper while she was in college. “It was a valuable experience, but most importantly I was close to home,” she said. “Like the reporting position, however, I didn’t stay within my initial plans.”
She found a job at the Rochester City Newspaper in Rochester, New York, where she remained for 16 years. “This is where I learned to edit. I was far from home but I really learned everything I do now in editing over at Rochester,” Hoffmann said. “I never went back to reporting, and I don’t intend to now.”
Eventually, Hoffmann wanted to return to her old stomping grounds. “I was simply ready to be closer to home, they were so good to me during my internship,” she said.
Her time at the Star has been productive. “It’s a sort of a combination of hands-on editing with my reporters and just sort of planning ahead, making sure everything is on track,” she said. “We’re constantly brainstorming with people, writing captions, keeping busy, just making sure that everything is on track.”
The fact that Hoffmann is an entertainment editor means a good selection of more light-hearted fare. “The variety in this section means we have a lot of leeway to create all kinds of stories and layouts,” she said. “Thursdays, in particular, are quite a big deal here, since that is when all of our reviews are able to be let loose. Sundays, as well are very big, since Lifestyle in particular gets particularly emphasized.”
She’s a big advocate for creating a larger online presence for her section. “We are already in the process of getting a foothold in social media and online; it fits the entertainment format,” she said.
Of course, new delivery methods adds to the workload. “We are always scrambling to get all our content up on social media as quickly and seamlessly as possible,” she said.
To further draw people into the online space, she keeps some stories exclusive. “We add an extra draw by making sure some stories are online, and we feel many of these stories are enhanced when we are able to attach things like trailers and links, the interaction makes it a big selling point.”
Hoffmann knows online is the future. “It’s where print is headed. Undoubtedly, we still nurture our paper, but the online component is certainly necessary now.”
As an editor, however, the job remains the same. “We still have arguments about whether or not to use then or than.”
She tells students they must be prepared to earn a job in journalism. “Start writing now, obviously, but any portfolio of your own you can point to,” she said. “Learning to work within online parameters will only help you in learning to work where we’re eventually headed.”
Hoffmann, despite setting out with different intentions, knows editing is where she belongs.
“I’ll write a bit for fun, but I’m never going back to writing,” she said. “Even if I wanted to.”