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Jim Faddis uses multiple skills as editor of Grand Island Independent

Jim Faddis talks about editing in his office at The Grand Island Independent.

Jim Faddis talks about editing in his office at The Grand Island Independent.

By Joseph McCarty
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Jim Faddis interned for The Grand Island Independent the summer before he graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduation, he started his career as a reporter for The Independent.

That was 34 years ago. Today, he is the paper’s managing editor.

He worked his way to the top by becoming a copy editor and then the editorial page editor before earning the top spot in the newsroom.

Out of all the positions he has held at The Independent, Faddis said being managing editor has been the most challenging. This is not only because he manages so many people and resources, but also because of the wide variety of tasks he must complete.

On a usual day, Faddis comes to work at 8 a.m. and goes through email. He attends a meeting with reporters at 9 a.m. to discuss the stories of the day.

After the meeting, Faddis’ tasks vary, depending on the day. He usually meets with many people throughout the day, including the publisher of The Independent, whom he meets with several times a week.

Some days he interviews candidates for positions in the newsroom or loads content onto the Web. On top of his usual duties as managing editor, he has been writing editorials and laying out the editorial page since the death of The Independent’s editorial page editor in January.

His last meeting of the day is with the copy desk at 4 p.m. to prepare them for their night of editing before the paper goes to print. Recently, he has been helping the copy desk edit stories before leaving the office around 6 p.m.

The Independent went online in the mid-1990s, and Faddis said that, even at the time, everyone at the paper agreed with the action.

But the move wasn’t without challenges.  “It was difficult to add something to the workload and decide who does what,” he said.

The Independent has adapted well to the digital age, and Faddis said he foresees the paper continuing its emphasis on social media. Currently, reporters are encouraged to post on the newspaper’s Twitter feed during breaking news events. However, Faddis pointed out there are challenges to using social media. The digital age has increased the need for speed in reporting, he said, but that that must be balanced by accuracy.

There are ways to safeguard against the spread of inaccurate information on social media. Faddis requires reporters to attribute information when posting on social media. “If they hear something on the scanner, they need to say they heard it on the scanner,” he said.

This standard was recently applied at The Independent when there was an intruder inside a local Buddhist temple. The police scanner traffic said the man was armed. Reporters posted that he was armed, but said that they heard the information on the police scanner. As it turned out, the man was not armed. So, attributing the false information to the scanner rather than stating it as fact saved the Independent from potential embarrassment and loss of credibility.

Faddis’ advice for those wishing to pursue careers in editing is to learn many skills.

“Be a well-rounded editor,” he said.

Editors should be able to do more than just edit copy, but also to write headlines, design pages and write stories.

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