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Mary Kay Roth is passionate about making a difference at LPS

By Amber Wright
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Mary Kay Roth is the director of communications at Lincoln Public Schools. In that role, she has many roles including managing social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram along with handling print and video material. She also deals with newspaper reporters, edits documents and works with the board of education.

Mary Kay Roth, Lincoln Public Schools Director of Communications

Mary Kay Roth, Lincoln Public Schools director of communications

If you were to tell the young Roth in college that she would be on the other side of reporting — dealing with reporters — she wouldn’t have believed it.

Roth triple-majored at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in philosophy, journalism and English. Her goal when she graduated from college was to be a reporter at The New York Times.

After graduation, Roth worked as a newspaper reporter for the Beatrice Daily Sun, then moved to Florida to work for the Lakeland Ledger. She moved to upstate New York as an environment and feature reporter for what was then the Binghamton News Press.

Eventually, Roth moved back to Lincoln to settle down. She worked at the Lincoln Journal Star and covered the environment. During her last five years at the paper, she switched to the education beat. After having two children, her interests had changed. Her interest for education began so moving to her current job seemed natural.

“It was hard at that point; it was a different world,” Roth said when talking about becoming a writer.

Roth loved writing, but she knew it would be difficult to land a job at a magazine as a writer. She didn’t know it then, but she loved to tell people’s stories.

“I love how you can put words together and do magical things,” Roth said. “I’m passionate about making a difference.”

Having experience reporting and dealing with reporters has helped Roth see news from both sides. Newspaper reporters want the scoop as soon as possible, but for Roth, the safety of staff and students come first.

“Open the door and be transparent,” Roth said her philosophy is when it comes to reporters. “News reporters can make a difference.”

Social media is growing every day. It has become a great source for breaking news everywhere. Being quick is an important factor, but being thoughtful is another huge factor Roth stresses.

When Roth was a reporter she relied heavily on copy editors. Now having no copy editor at her position at Lincoln Public Schools, she has created a mental checklist that she follows. Here are her steps:

  • Look for clarity.
  • Craft a clear opening.
  • Ask yourself if the story flows well
  • Check for spelling, grammar and AP style (don’t use spellcheck)

“Writing is a valuable commodity,” Roth said. “Reporting isn’t the same as it used to be. I’m not sure I know what is going to happen with newspapers. I hope they continue.”

Roth’s advice to college students:  “Don’t narrow your focus on what you want to do. You can do a lot of things if you keep your options broad in your head and have as many experiences as you can.”

 

 

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