Night owl Lisa Bain loves her work schedule as a multiplatform editor
By Jordyn Dixon
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Being a procrastinator isn’t always a bad thing.
Lisa Bain of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis said putting things off in school is what helped her transition into the world of newspapers.
“I’ve always been a procrastinator,” Bain said, “but I think it translated really well into deadline work.”
She learned to work quickly and efficiently under pressure.
Bain doesn’t work a typical 9 to 5 job. As a multiplatform editor for the Star Tribune, she works from 3 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday.
She edits stories for accuracy, grammar and punctuation and writes headlines.
She had experience with design in high school and college so she also designs the Nation and World pages. Once a week, she is the wire editor for the Nation and World sections as well as the Science and Health sections, which means she selects the stories that will run, edits them and lays them out.
In a typical day, Bain comes in at 3 p.m. and designs as many of the pages she can before stories get edited. The first deadline is at 10:05 p.m. so the staff must work together to edit stories efficiently to meet deadline. The second edition deadline is at 11:30 p.m.
Editors are busy because they have to make sure that everything is perfect before they complete the second edition. At times, Bain said it can be overwhelming because there is so much work to do and so few people to do it.
“There is never any time to take a break so pretty much (you’re) just working nine hours straight with a 15-minute walk to Chipotle or something,” Bain said.
A big story – whether it’s politics or a natural disaster — can be even more stressful with a bigger workload.
Toward the beginning of campaign season in June of 2015, Bain created a page for the Star Tribune of all the possible candidates running for the 2016 election. Pictures of the 19 known candidates at the time are on the page (see illustration on right) with a little bit of information about each one. Since there was an odd number, editors decided to add one more spot for other potential candidates. One of those potential candidates was Donald Trump.
Bain said when they selected Trump as an option, they had no idea that he would become a serious candidate and eventually be the president. This page along with some of Bain’s other work can be found on her website portfolio.
The campaign season is stressful for everyone working in journalism because everyone’s opinions can varysignificantly. Communication becomes critical.
Bain said that one of the biggest challenges in her job is trying to balance what everyone wants. Reporters and editors all have specific writing styles and coming to a middle ground can be somewhat difficult. Everyone is trying to work together and reach the end goal with the best material possible.
As an editor, “you get blamed for everything,” Bain said. You don’t often get any praise for catching errors, but if an error slips by, the editor is often blamed. Editors must be meticulous and dedicated to catching and fixing errors before publication to avoid misinformation and to retain the newspaper’s credibility.
Bain said it is essential to be detail-oriented. Editors must be familiar with AP style and the rules of grammar. Being able to learn quickly as well as teach yourself new tools can also be beneficial. A shift to digital means learning new systems and online platforms.
As technology advances, Bain said news platforms must advance with it. Editors are writing more headlines that are optimized for search engines. Newspapers are expanding onto different forms of social media, and they are hiring more people who can work both online and in print.
“It’s not really voluntary,” Bain said. “You get the impression that everyone is going to move this direction sooner or later, whether they want to or not.”
As journalism evolves, it is also becoming more competitive. Bain said it is vital for someone aspiring to work in journalism to differentiate themselves from their competition. It is important to keep your options open when looking for a job.
“If you are open to moving around,” she said, “then I think there are a lot more opportunities.”
It can be very difficult starting out in the field. She tells aspiring journalists to try new experiences even if they are intimidating because every experience gets you closer to a full-time job, she said.
You have to be willing to make an effort to get where you want, she said. Making connections and networking are vital.