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Lincoln sports columnist recounts his early days as an editor

Photo courtesy of ERIC GREGORY/Lincoln Journal Star

Photo courtesy of
Eric Gregory/Lincoln Journal Star

Steven M. Sipple may be one of the most recognizable sports writers in Nebraska, but one of his first jobs was as a copy editor.

Sipple, who covers Husker football, basketball and baseball for the Lincoln Journal Star, started off at the Journal Star as a copy editor in 1991 and what he learned has stayed with him.

Even though his first job at the Journal Star wasn’t what he really wanted, he knew he had to start somewhere.

“The editing position taught me quite a bit in those first initial months,” said Sipple, adding that it did not pay very well.

Sipple, a native of Columbus, Nebraska, knew he wanted to write since the first grade. He decided to continue on that path and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in journalism in 1990.

He took a job at the Grand Island Independent shortly before graduation. At the Independent, he covered just about every sport one could imagine.

“I remember there was one day when I went from covering junior high softball to Husker football, if that puts anything in perspective,” Sipple said. “It was a four-man staff and we were all editors. We had to be.”

In 1991, after six months at the Independent, he went to work at the Lincoln Journal Star as a copy editor.

After a start in a small town, he was ecstatic to transition to one of the biggest papers in the state.

Sipple later became a reporter and covered everything from bowling to volleyball to high school sports before settling on the Huskers beat in 1995, which he has today.

Sipple said working in sports journalism can involve a lot of work and long hours.

“When going into this you have to realize that it’s long, odd hours. If someone isn’t ready for the profession, it’ll show in the first week. When you’re out covering sports, be prepared to work at some times, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.,” Sipple said.

He said it would be difficult to be successful at his job and work a standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift.

“It’s a life decision you have to make as a writer,” Sipple said. “On the other hand if you want to work the copy desk you can just work set hours if you so choose. The good news is you can be thoroughly involved either way. This job is a certain kind of lifestyle that you have to embrace if you want to go into it.”

It has been more than two decades since Sipple came on to the Journal Star staff and he said he treats each position almost the opposite as when he first started.

“At first I didn’t have a whole lot of desire to become an editor, but once I held that position, even for a little while, it made me learn a lot,” Sipple said. “It helps your writing, grounds you and you can learn everything about anything because I was reading anything and everything.”

Over time, Sipple’s duties have changed quite a bit.

Sipple took his experiences from his humble beginnings and translated them into his writing. He writes about three to four columns a week, which don’t include his articles on HuskerExtra.

“It’s different now with the Internet. I write blogs now about as often as I write my columns. Everything that I write will appear online or in print though, so I’m almost writing six out of the seven days,” he said.

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