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Omaha World-Herald copy/online editor says versatility is key

Chris Nigrin, Omaha World-Herald online editor

Chris Nigrin, Omaha World-Herald online editor. (Photo courtesy of the Omaha World-Herald’s newsroom staff directory.)

By Zach Worthington
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Chris Nigrin didn’t know that she would become an editor while growing up.

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Nigrin originally wanted to become a reporter and always had a love for writing.  While growing up in Omaha, Nigrin was a regular contributor to her junior high newspaper as well as her high school paper at Omaha South, where she first gained experience as an editor.  After graduating high school, Nigrin attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she served as an editor of the Gateway, the student-run newspaper.

While at UNO there was a growing need for “messengers,” or students willing to run errands, answer phone calls, and do whatever the reporters needed to be done.  When Nigrin started, there were no computers available for use.  Now she has more than 30 years of working experience, dating back to her sophomore year in college.

Back in the late 1970s, the morning shifts at the newspaper were almost exclusively reserved for men, while the women mostly worked the night shifts.  She didn’t know it at the time, but working those night shifts would prepare Nigrin for her current job at the Omaha World-Herald as an online editor.

Nigrin graduated from UNO with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.  She was offered a full-time job at the Omaha World-Herald shortly after.  Before online work,  Nigrin started out doing normal copy editing.  Nigrin was essentially the last set of eyes to look over a piece of work before it was published in print.

Nigrin enjoyed working on the copy desk.  She dealt with local, Iowa and international news as well as the surrounding region.  Nigrin thought that it was fun covering so many different places as well as working with the different personalities in the newsroom.

For the past four years, Nigrin has worked the night shift, where she is the main editor of Omaha.com, the Omaha World-Herald online news website. She reports to the copy desk.

Nigrin reviews any breaking news that occurs on a given night, which could include anything from car accidents to shootings. She manages the newspaper’s website and posts stories to it as well as coordinating with Sports, Money and Living to make sure that the stories are getting good play on the website.  She checks the stories that need editing before posting them on the site, then checks to make sure that the audio and videos for the website are working correctly.  Nigrin also handles some of the social media presence for the Omaha World-Herald.

As an online editor, Nigrin says that she enjoys the challenge of being an editor like making sure that everything is formatted correctly.  The online website reaches a much broader audience, ranging far outside the reaches of   Omaha.

Nigrin likes being able to reach a broader audience. Writing headlines that will appeal to people and generate interest in reading the story is a challenge.

 She enjoys increased flexibility with the headlines. “There are more characters to work with online,” Nigrin said in a phone interview.

 Nigrin also stressed the importance of including keywords in the headlines, which will help generate more views online.  “When writing headlines online, you need to be more straightforward than with print.”

One of the biggest challenges of working as an editor is the seemingly never ending workload.

“There is always something to do online, the work is never completely finished,” Nigrin said. “Snowstorms, tornadoes or shootings, we still need to deliver the news.”

This can lead to challenging but exciting nights.  “The pace can become very hectic at times.  Some people dislike that part of the job, but I enjoy the work that I do so I don’t mind.”

In recent years, Nigrin has written a few stories for the newspaper as well as some blogs for Momaha.com, the World-Herald’s social networking website for moms.  She also writes headlines and captions on stories, mostly for the morning paper.

What advice does Nigrin have for journalism students?

“I guess I would say gain experience whether it be an internship or a job, even unpaid, to broaden what you study,” Nigrin said. “There is a need for good communication skills.  There aren’t as many jobs for editors as there used to be.

“Having another skill that separates yourself is a huge help whether it be being bilingual or learning all the technology available: video, reporting, writing and editing — know it all.”

“Versatility is key.  Technology is changing the way that journalism is conducted.  Online experience can give you a leg up as well for when you eventually apply for jobs in the real world.”


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