Features editor tackles multiple roles at Lincoln Journal Star
By Abigail Gentrup
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Imagine getting paid to eat food, watch Netflix and go to concerts.
Sounds like a dream right? Meet Jeff Korbelik. He does that for a living.
Korbelik is the features editor at the Lincoln Journal Star. As part of his job, he writes about national and local television, dining, performing arts and more.
Every day starts at about 6 a.m. when Korbelik wakes up and walks downstairs to his basement. He eats breakfast and watches all of the TV shows he will eventually cover for the Journal Star.
Korbelik’s day gets more hectic after he goes to work. His favorite part of the week is when he gets to write. He writes about three to four stories each week.
But that’s not the biggest part of his job. He also is in charge of assigning and editing all features stories, choosing wire copy and going to different events such as concerts.
Korbelik has to make sure he meets all of his deadlines. When asking what his biggest challenge is, Korbelik responded without hesitation.
“Time management. Trying to get everything done,” Korbelik said. “I have to report and edit. I also lost my assistant features editor and home and garden editor so I’m in charge of those too.”
Korbelik was promoted from a features reporter to the features editor in 2012. Before then, the features editor had never done any reporting. When Korbelik took the job, he took on the entire features section and is in charge of everyone who writes for it.
Social media has also become a big part of Korbelik’s job. The Lincoln Journal Star wants its reporters to post stories online to promote the newspaper. They use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to find potential stories as well.
“We have our own online crew,” he said. “It’s helpful because it’s easier to find sources for stories from Facebook and Twitter. For example, I wrote a preview of the Lincoln Half Marathon and put a note out on Facebook for people’s opinion.”
Korbelik has been writing for newspapers since high school, when he worked as a sports editor for his high school newspaper. He worked at The Daily Nebraskan at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and made his way to editor senior year. After graduation, he worked at the Bellevue Leader where he did essentially everything, including taking and developing photos and writing stories and headlines. Korbelik moved to Grand Island as the sports editor but came to the Journal Star to be a sports writer in 1996. He eventually moved to the features section.
Going from sports to features allowed him to to work a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. rather than working nights covering sporting events.
One of the best parts of his job is meeting new people. For instance, he wrote about a couple that worked at the Daily Nebraskan 30 years ago. They had taken a picture during their time at UNL and came back and reenacted it when their daughter was performing in an “I Love Lucy” show at the Lied Center.
Korbelik has other favorite stories too.
“My favorite was a sports story that made the front page. The story was about Russ Snyder, who won the World Series with the Baltimore Orioles.”
Snyder is from Nebraska, near Korbelik’s father’s hometown. Korbelik went back to interview Snyder and hung out with him for a day. Korbelik loves baseball, so it easily became one of his favorite stories.
Another one of Korbelik’s favorite stories won an award.
“It was actually on my day off. I was home painting rooms. I was excited because it was the first time I had time to do it. I got a call and was informed that a UNL student had rolled a perfect 900 in bowling. It was the second time in history that had happened.”
With all of his experiences in journalism, Korbelik has one piece of advice for students looking to go into the newspaper business.
“If you want to go in the newspaper business, I don’t recommend it unless you want to be a writer,” he said. “If you want to be a writer, go for it. But if you want to be a designer or copy editor then don’t because those jobs are dropping. Local stuff will always be big like city council and entertainment. Involve yourself locally if you can.”