Daily Herald editor reflects on life on the copy desk
By Elyse McFeggan
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Stangland, who grew up in Wheeling, Illinois, a small northwestern suburb of Chicago, studied journalism at Eastern Illinois University. Stangland wrote for the student-run paper, The Daily Eastern News, all four years he attended college. He wrote movie reviews and got promoted to be the movie section editor for two years. Eastern Illinois University is a rather small school so resources were limited, and Stangland gained experience doing many different jobs in the newsroom.
Stangland graduated from college in 2001 and was set to begin an internship working for Walt Disney World. He was supposed to leave for the internship on September 12, 2001, but with the terrorist attacks the day before, he decided he should stay and work in news.
His college adviser told him about an internship at the Daily Herald, the third largest paper in Illinois. Stangland knew he wanted to work there. He took the internship on the copy desk and was hired for a full-time position right after the internship.
Now, he’s a senior copy editor. He never does the same thing from day to day. But his primary job is to design the front page.
Every day at 2:45 p.m. he attends a meeting with editors who handle news from different suburbs. The Daily Herald is a paper that represents all of the suburbs of Chicago, so there are different stories based on which suburbs are affected. At the meeting, the editors discuss what stories should be on the front page of the paper. The meetings can last anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours. Stangland, in addition to designing the front page, must read stories, write headlines, design pages including the weather page, writes teasers, and occasionally work as a sports editor.
The most common editing error he corrects is lottery numbers. Writers often get the numbers incorrect, which can lead to very upset readers.
But his favorite part about being a senior copy editor for the Daily Herald is handling big news stories. He likes the challenge of making hard news visually appealing.
He also enjoys working with his best friends. Working long hours on news means the staff have all become very close friends.
In his free time, Stangland writes a weekly entertainment column for the Daily Herald. This is atypical of a senior editor, but he is driven to write the column by his passion for movies and television shows. He aspires to be a film critic someday. The paper’s current film critic is retiring, and Stangland hopes to be considered for that position.
His advice for aspiring editors: “Don’t be afraid to say you’re willing to help,” he said in a phone interview. “It doesn’t mean you’ll get paid more, but if you’re willing to throw your hat in many rings it will benefit your career. The more things you can do the more valuable you are.”