Home > finals > Passion for writing leads Mason to role as digital news editor at WTOP

Passion for writing leads Mason to role as digital news editor at WTOP

By Chasity Henry
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lacey Mason always has had a passion for writing. Mason, a Nebraska native, wrote one of the most popular stories in the history of her news organization this past March.

Now Mason, a Nebraska native, puts her passion into practice at a radio station in Washington, D.C.  She wrote one of the most popular stories in the history of her news organization this past March.

Mason’s passion for animals and writing collided when she found out that an eagle from the Bald Eagle Live Stream in Hanover, Pennsylvania, was covered in snow all the way up to its beak. The eagle sat on top of its nest protecting its two eggs and refused to leave.  This was a story that she needed to tell.

“I decided that I wanted to do a story with a photo gallery of that,” Mason said. It kind of blew up.”

Lacey Mason, the digital news editor for WTOP radio.

Lacey Mason, the digital news editor for WTOP radio.

The story about the eagle was one of most successful stories in the history of WTOP radio. Many national news organizations picked up the story including CNN, USA Today, and ABC news.

In between writing stories that receive national attention, Mason does some editing too.

In her role as the digital news editor at WTOP, she spends her time writing and editing the digital content for the station’s website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Every day she starts off by reading all the stories on the WTOP website. This gives her a good picture of what has happened so far during the day and helps her decide what changes need to be made to the homepage of the website. She spends time making sure that the stories are tagged appropriately so that they are easy to find with search engines and edits them carefully.

When asked in a phone interview on what led her to editing, Mason had this to say, “My love for writing is how I got here.”

Mason took any chance that she could to write. While attending high school in Crete, Nebraska, she wrote for the Cardinal Call and was a photo editor for the yearbook. But it wasn’t until college that she found an interest in editing.

While studying for her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Mason spent time working as an opinion editor and columnist for The Daily Nebraskan and she also participated in a program that helped UNL students with editing papers for print. This opportunity gave Mason a chance to shape someone else’s writing, and she found that she really enjoyed teaching someone how to edit.

After she graduated from UNL in 2011, Mason took a chance and accepted an internship at NPR in Washington, D.C. The internship only lasted four months, but it gave Mason the real world experience of writing and editing for a national news organization. At NPR, Mason spent time selecting and editing opinion stories for the website as well as editing book reviews.

Once her internship was over she traveled back home and then to California. She spent some time as a freelancer, writing and editing for companies like Google and the Santa Monica Mirror, but she knew that Washington, D.C, was where she wanted to be. She moved back to Washington and applied for any and every job she could find while sleeping on her friend’s couch. She finally got a call from WTOP and took the position as the overnight editor. It wasn’t ideal. The hours were terrible, but her hard work and dedication paid off.  After two years, she got promoted to the digital news editor.

In her current role, she still enjoys being able to coach reporters on writing skills. Bad grammar, spelling errors and run-on sentences are the most common errors that she sees, but editing comes easy to her.

Journalism is changing, Mason said, and social media is becoming the front line. Her advice for students studying the field is to get to know how social media works, pay attention to various publishing platforms and study how the platforms work and why news organizations use them.

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