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ESPN columnist Jon Greenberg talks editing, reporting

Jon Greenberg trusts his editors.

Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago. Photo via chicagoideas.com

Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago. Photo via chicagoideas.com

He understands disagreements will occur and there is a time and place to bring up disagreements.

“I trust my editors. I always do, but you have to pick your battles,” Greenberg, an ESPN Chicago columnist, said in a phone interview.

Greenberg, an Ohio native, has been both an editor and a reporter during his journalism career.

He’s been in journalism since college, has worked for the Associated Press and is the past executive editor for Team Marketing Report. Greenberg started at ESPN Chicago in 2009.

As a Chicago columnist, Greenberg appears on talk radio shows and said it’s important to edit even while talking.

“You say stuff on the radio and you’ll hear from people, more than from what you write,” Greenberg said.

Like many journalists, Greenberg is active on Twitter.

While some reporters take a serious approach, he takes a humorous one.

“People are super serious on there, like word of God type stuff, and I like to have more fun on there,” Greenberg said.

While he likes to keep things light on Twitter, he still edits his tweets.

“At first I didn’t edit myself on Twitter and I got in trouble,” Greenberg said.

At Ohio University, Greenberg worked at the college paper, covering hockey and baseball. He later became assistant sports editor. His senior year he worked at the local newspaper covering sports.

“It was basically a part-time job,” Greenberg said.

He graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. In 2007, he received a master’s degree in creative writing from The University of Chicago.

As a young editor in college, Greenberg had to do what all editors do – deal with a slew of younger reporters.

“People couldn’t write ledes well,” he said. “I probably did too much rewriting as an editor, but I had standards for our paper.”

Editors need to have confidence in themselves, he said. Without confidence, one won’t have the conviction to make the appropriate changes, he said.

“My staff loved me, for the most part. I was eager to talk to them about stories and what was wrong with things,” Greenberg said.

It’s important to have a good relationship with your staff as an editor, he said. The more everyone is on the same page the better. Greenberg enjoyed watching his staff of young reporters progress.

“It was fun to watch someone get better over the years,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg said it’s important to re-read your own work and be a self-editor.

“I used to hate re-reading my stuff until I had a professor just tell me you have to if this is what you want to do,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg has this advice for young editors: “You have to be able to do a lot of things to be a good editor. You have to be able to pay attention to everything.”

As a reporter, it’s important to be open to people pointing out your mistakes,  he said. It is better to have someone point it out than never realize you made a mistake in the first place.

“Sometimes I’ll get an email from a reader saying, ‘Hey this is wrong.’ And I’m just like, ‘Shoot, thank you,'” Greenberg said. “I wish my editor would have caught that.”

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