Editor believes journalists have the power to defeat evil
By Madison Wurtele
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jim Brock, the editor of the Nebraska City News-Press has an undeniable passion for sharing the news. It shines through every one of his words. In an email interview, Brock shared his passion and what he has learned from his experience in journalism.
Brock’s career took an unconventional path. He majored in history instead of journalism.
But he became an intern for his hometown paper in the Memphis, Nebraska, area, in 2002, making journalism his career. He began working at the Nebraska City News-Press when he was transferred there by Gatehouse Media.
“The best part of my job is knowing I can effect change on a daily basis. That is why I do what I do. I certainly don’t do it for the money,” Brock said.
A typical day for Brock consists of distributing assignments, planning budgets, attending to social media, updating websites and looking over the operations for the three different newsrooms he is in charge of.
Brock recognizes that working for a small publication does have disadvantages. He must balance giving readers the information they need to know with wanting to increase ad sales. He says it can also be a struggle when important members of the community try to influence the content of the newspaper.
“The purpose of a newspaper is to inform the community it serves, whether said community wants to hear the news or not. In today’s world, the focus has shifted to making money at the expense of journalistic integrity,” he said. “You cannot pick and choose what stories to run based on public reaction and whether or not an advertiser will withdraw its ads. Unfortunately, that is the reality of working for a community newspaper.”
Since beginning his career, Brock has seen the role of editing change and develop. He thinks professional writing has become more casual. He also sees himself starting to write more like he speaks. Brock says he has started using prepositions at the end of sentences and constructing sentences with no verbs. Brock sees this type of change continuing. He believes the world will always need editors, but they are the middlemen who will eventually be removed as the popularity of citizen journalists groups and self-editing reporters increases.
However, even with the ever-changing journalistic environment, Brock continues to have the utmost faith in the power and importance of the media.
“I have learned that the press is powerful enough to save an entire community from overreaching governments, high-society mandates, archaic city ordinances and racist law enforcement officials,” he said. “If done correctly, reporters and editors can effect more change than elected officials. That is why it is so important that newspapers survive.”
Brock’s hope for aspiring journalists is that they recognize the power of their words and persevere through this business’s many challenges.
“Never forget that your job is more important than most. And remember, you are going to mess up,” he said. “You will get a story wrong. You will mix up the facts, and you will misspell someone’s name. It is as inevitable as rain and snow. In fact, this will follow you until you retire. Just get back on the horse and keep riding. You are the Knight in Shining Armor. Don’t ever forget that.”