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Editing skills prove valuable in all kinds of jobs

December 11, 2016 Leave a comment

Whatever kind of journalist you aspire to be – reporter, photojournalist, designer, multimedia producer, broadcaster or editor – you’ll need to develop editing skills to succeed.

Editors work for all kinds of organizations on many different platforms (print, broadcast, Web, mobile). The goal of editing is clarity, regardless of platform. Editors help readers navigate through information by distilling messages. Editors work for small and large newspapers, broadcast outlets, magazines, book publishers and newsletters. They hold communication jobs for corporate, academic and nonprofit organizations. Editing skills are valued in public relations and advertising. Regardless of where they work, editors increasingly are responsible for work published on the Web.

Since 2011, beginning editing students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln interviewed editors from a variety of places to ask them about their jobs, their advice for journalism students and their insight into how journalism is changing. Although the editors the students chose worked in many different jobs, many editors offered similar suggestions.

Their advice included: Read all different kinds of writing, master the basics of usage and grammar, get internships and college publication experience, learn the Web and new technologies, and be open-minded about the future.

Click on the links below to read their reports:

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Categories: editing, finals Tags: ,

High school exercise fosters career for Patricia Mish

December 9, 2015 Leave a comment

Mish_Patricia_web

Emma Olson

JOUR 201

Quick. Write down one sentence describing the scene at the finish of the state qualifying track meet.

Twenty heads drop to their notebooks and scribble out the first thing that comes rushing to mind.

This was how Patricia Mish found her love for journalism.

Patricia Mish is the managing editor for Faith Grand Rapids a magazine run by the Catholic diocese in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The magazine is a mix of marketing for the church with stories and news. Overall, its angled to connect people with Jesus and help Catholics become more engaged with their parish community. The publication runs every month and is available at http://www.dioceseofgrandrapids.org/multimedia/pages/faithgr.aspx#.VmhzObQk_0s

As a child, Mish enjoyed reading newspapers and following the Cubs box scores in the Chicago Sun Times.

Mish found her passion for journalism when she was in high school at Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, Illinois. She was inspired by her teacher in a basic journalism class. The teacher would describe an event to the class and they would have to write a lede for the story quickly. Mish loved following the news and became the news editor for the school newspaper as well as the editor for the yearbook.

Mish said, “All the President’s Men” came out around the same time she took interest in journalism therefore the movie most likely influenced her interest in the career. She said she was attracted to journalism due to “the excitement of chasing a story, being on the scene of a major event, and deadline pressure”.

Her first journalism job outside of her high school publications was a reporting intern for the Jordan Independent, a tiny community newspaper in a largely rural community south of the Twin Cities.http://www.swnewsmedia.com/jordan_independent/

“I wanted to be a news reporter for a major metropolitan daily,” Mish said.

Her dream job within the field was to be a reporter at a major newspaper. However, that dream has now changed to covering the Chicago Cubs for MLB.com or the Chicago Tribune.

Mish starts out each day checking her email like everyone else. She makes sure she is up to date on everything that is happening in the office and with stories before anything else. The rest of her day is spent assigning stories to writers and photographers, editing copy and working with designer to plan the magazine. Mish also spends a majority of her time planning content for future issues of the magazine.

The most taxing part of her job is planning. This is a large part of my job but however it isn’t my strong suit  she said.

“Trust your instincts and don’t hesitate to ask questions,” Mish said. Students who are just starting out often forget that we were all in their shoes at some point.

She said to remember to notice details when you’re interviewing a subject or reporting a story. Interviews should follow a conversation format instead of Q and A. Mish looks for lulls in conversation during an interview and suggests to let them happen. She said that is most often when subjects will open up.

“Always ask if they have anything to add,” Mish said. “Often subjects do and it can be good stuff.”

The best advice she was given when she was starting out, she still uses today. An editor told her early on,”You can’t be objective but you can be fair and balanced. Make sure all names in a story are spelled right.”

She used to have trouble writing stories about major events.

“An editor told me to put away my notes and just write what happened,” Mish said. “That helped move me off square one when I’d get stuck. Then go back and fill in the details and quotes.”

No Such Thing as A Typical Day

December 7, 2015 Leave a comment

By Kelsey Hansen

JOUR 201

Final Blog

 

Lanny Holstein is a beat writer and editor for "Huskers Illustrated." He is also co-host of the Morning Take on 93.7 the Ticket.

Lanny Holstein is a beat writer and editor for “Huskers Illustrated.” He is also co-host of the Morning Take on 93.7 the Ticket.

Lanny Holstein, beat writer and editor at “Huskers Illustrated,” has a passion for the Cornhuskers and all things sports. When he realized that we wasn’t good enough to actually play sports at a professional level, he turned to his love of newspapers and consuming sports media and became a sports journalist. In a phone interview, Lanny shared what it’s like to work in such a fast pace field.

“There is no such thing as a typical day for me, everything is very unscheduled and sporadic because we print an entire issue after every Husker football game. I have a very short amount of time to write and edit an in-depth feature story and at times it can be difficult. This job is not for those who need a set schedule,” Holstein said.

Although his job can be difficult at times, Lanny finds that the most rewarding thing about working in journalism is being able to be hands on in creating content that sports fans like himself, can enjoy. Lanny also likes the instantaneous feedback he gets after his work is published, whether it is good or bad.

Every job has its rewards but it also has its challenges too. In the world of sports journalism there are many difficulties that individuals like Lanny must overcome.

“Coming up with good, creative material is extremely difficult because the football team is in such high demand for interviews that us journalists must all talk to the players and staff all at once,” Holstein said.

That means when someone asks a great question to a player or staff member, every journalist receives the same answer, so creating content that is new and exciting using information that everyone already has is very tricky.

“You want your story to be unique but you don’t want it to be so obscure that it comes off as stupid to readers.”

Not only does Holstein’s work need to be creative and unique, but it needs to be well written and error free. Self-editing is very important and is something that he does regularly with every one of his stories to make sure his story is the very best it can be.

“Editing is extremely important in my job. After I write them, I spend a majority of the time re-reading it and making sure there are grammatical mistakes and that my work is accurate. I always want to put my best foot forward when writing and editing my stories so that in the end it’s nearly perfect and ready to publish.”

Every writer and editor has his or her own techniques when it comes to editing a story. There’s a certain process that journalists use, whether it be using a checklist, re-reading the story multiple times or skimming. Holstein’s process is one that is highly used because it is efficient and effective.

“When it comes to editing my work, reading the story out loud always works best. If my story is conversational and can be easily read through, I know my work is done. However, if I notice a sentence that doesn’t seem to end or is super choppy I know my structure needs work. It’s all about how the paper sounds, it needs to be natural,” Holstein said.

In a sport driven state like Nebraska, Holstein’s job as a sports journalist and editor is one that many students aspire to have. For those students with dreams of having a career in sports media, he has some crucial advice.

“If you want a job in sports media it’s pinnacle that you have a driven love for sports. This job is not the most conventional because it takes a lot of your time, time some students may not be willing to give up. Expect to work late nights on weekdays and weekends in order to get the job done. Sometimes you’ll miss out on movie nights with friends but you do eventually have free time. It’s not like you don’t have a life, you still do, but if you have a love for what you’re covering that time won’t feel like a loss.” Holstein said.

So how does one obtain such a high demand job like Lanny’s? Here’s a hint: having experience and connections helps!

“Before I graduated, I worked for the Daily Nebraskan where I was covering Husker football. This meant going to press conferences to get information for my stories, but it also entailed the opportunity to make connections with professionals in the sports journalism field,” Holstein said.

Holstein did his best to network while he was at those conferences and it was the time he spent making connections that led to his now boss calling him for his current job.

“He said I’d be making way more money than I was at the school newspaper, so as a poor college student I accepted the position immediately and have loved it ever since.”

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Omaha World-Herald copy/online editor says versatility is key

Chris Nigrin, Omaha World-Herald online editor

Chris Nigrin, Omaha World-Herald online editor. (Photo courtesy of the Omaha World-Herald’s newsroom staff directory.)

By Zach Worthington
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Chris Nigrin didn’t know that she would become an editor while growing up.

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Nigrin originally wanted to become a reporter and always had a love for writing.  While growing up in Omaha, Nigrin was a regular contributor to her junior high newspaper as well as her high school paper at Omaha South, where she first gained experience as an editor.  After graduating high school, Nigrin attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she served as an editor of the Gateway, the student-run newspaper.

While at UNO there was a growing need for “messengers,” or students willing to run errands, answer phone calls, and do whatever the reporters needed to be done.  When Nigrin started, there were no computers available for use.  Now she has more than 30 years of working experience, dating back to her sophomore year in college.

Back in the late 1970s, the morning shifts at the newspaper were almost exclusively reserved for men, while the women mostly worked the night shifts.  She didn’t know it at the time, but working those night shifts would prepare Nigrin for her current job at the Omaha World-Herald as an online editor.

Nigrin graduated from UNO with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.  She was offered a full-time job at the Omaha World-Herald shortly after.  Before online work,  Nigrin started out doing normal copy editing.  Nigrin was essentially the last set of eyes to look over a piece of work before it was published in print.

Nigrin enjoyed working on the copy desk.  She dealt with local, Iowa and international news as well as the surrounding region.  Nigrin thought that it was fun covering so many different places as well as working with the different personalities in the newsroom.

For the past four years, Nigrin has worked the night shift, where she is the main editor of Omaha.com, the Omaha World-Herald online news website. She reports to the copy desk.

Nigrin reviews any breaking news that occurs on a given night, which could include anything from car accidents to shootings. She manages the newspaper’s website and posts stories to it as well as coordinating with Sports, Money and Living to make sure that the stories are getting good play on the website.  She checks the stories that need editing before posting them on the site, then checks to make sure that the audio and videos for the website are working correctly.  Nigrin also handles some of the social media presence for the Omaha World-Herald.

As an online editor, Nigrin says that she enjoys the challenge of being an editor like making sure that everything is formatted correctly.  The online website reaches a much broader audience, ranging far outside the reaches of   Omaha.

Nigrin likes being able to reach a broader audience. Writing headlines that will appeal to people and generate interest in reading the story is a challenge.

 She enjoys increased flexibility with the headlines. “There are more characters to work with online,” Nigrin said in a phone interview.

 Nigrin also stressed the importance of including keywords in the headlines, which will help generate more views online.  “When writing headlines online, you need to be more straightforward than with print.”

One of the biggest challenges of working as an editor is the seemingly never ending workload.

“There is always something to do online, the work is never completely finished,” Nigrin said. “Snowstorms, tornadoes or shootings, we still need to deliver the news.”

This can lead to challenging but exciting nights.  “The pace can become very hectic at times.  Some people dislike that part of the job, but I enjoy the work that I do so I don’t mind.”

In recent years, Nigrin has written a few stories for the newspaper as well as some blogs for Momaha.com, the World-Herald’s social networking website for moms.  She also writes headlines and captions on stories, mostly for the morning paper.

What advice does Nigrin have for journalism students?

“I guess I would say gain experience whether it be an internship or a job, even unpaid, to broaden what you study,” Nigrin said. “There is a need for good communication skills.  There aren’t as many jobs for editors as there used to be.

“Having another skill that separates yourself is a huge help whether it be being bilingual or learning all the technology available: video, reporting, writing and editing — know it all.”

“Versatility is key.  Technology is changing the way that journalism is conducted.  Online experience can give you a leg up as well for when you eventually apply for jobs in the real world.”

 

From intern to editor-at-large, local businesswoman thrives

By Lizzie Mensinger
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Although Heather Lundine has a doctorate degree in English, her love of editing actually began with food and travel.

As an intern at the University of Nebraska Press, she edited a variety of material. But food and travel pieces were always interesting to her. “Those are still my favorite,” Lundine said, “just because they are fun and exciting.”

Now as a developmental editor at Randolph Lundine, a manuscript consulting firm, and an acquiring editor at the West Virginia University Press, she edits a wide range of literature from scholarly articles to fiction.

Heather Lundine

Heather Lundine, co-owner and developing editor of Randolph Lundine manuscript consulting. (Photo courtesy Shannon Claire)

Lundine has lived in Kansas City, Lake Tahoe and Phoenix, but she moved to Nebraska to work on her doctorate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lundine’s internship at the University of Nebraska Press eventually grew into a full-time position.

Now as an acquiring editor for West Virginia University Press, Lundine has the freedom to create the types of books and literary works that she wants to edit. She currently is working on creating a list of books for the university to publish. She reads articles and reaches out to authors to see if they are interested in writing a book or creating a textbook based on their articles.

 If authors agree to write for the West Virginia, Lundine works with them to create their work.  She also edits and reworks each piece before it is sent to press.

  “It’s about making a deal, designing the types of books that you think are best for the company (West Virginia Universityto publish and what is going to be the most interesting, thinking how does one thing fit with another,” she said. “Does a scholarly article translate well into a full book?”

Lundine also plays an active editing role at Randolph Lundine, a manuscript consulting company that she co-owns with Ladette Randolph, editor-in-chief of the journal, Ploughshares, and author of several books. At Randolph Lundine, Lundine works as a developmental editor, a role she describes as “a second set of eyes before the manuscript is sent to a publisher.”

A typical day for Lundine involves going over manuscripts and sifting through masses of emails and articles with the hopes of finding a new project to propose. Lundine said that the best part of her job is when “you are invested in a book or a scholarly work from conception to publishing. And it gets even better if the book goes on to win awards. It definitely gives me a great sense of pride.”

The people who work with Lundine feel the same pride about working with her. Judy Muller, author of “Emus Loose in Egnar: Big Stories from Small Towns,” had this to say about working with Lundine: “After Heather read my first draft, she was encouraging and blunt at the same time… The book that eventually went out to readers was vastly improved because of her editing skills. The excellent reviews that followed, from the Wall Street Journal to National Public Radio, would not have been possible without Heather Lundine’s expert guidance.”

As a manuscript consultant, Lundine says the most common error she finds while editing is that people tend to embellish their words too much. She calls it “purple prose.”

“People often get lost in their own narrative,” she said. “You find that people forget what they learned about writing when they were young, you forget narrative arc, and paragraph structure gets sloppy.” 

As for her best advice to writers, she said: “Use clear, good words. Use the narrative arc, and make sure you know your audience.”

Lundine also posts writing prompts on her website regularly to help her authors grow their skills and to attract new writers.

As developing and acquiring editor, Lundine’s career has been fruitful.  Her editing skills have taken her from an internship to owning her own business. Lundine has a lot on her

“The literary community is wonderful, fast-paced and being a part of it, you are constantly learning,” she said. “Knowing that you may have made a book a little better gives you a great sense of joy and pride.”

Video editor’s passion led to his job

January 24, 2014 1 comment

By Will Stott
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Professional careers in editing can begin in a variety of ways, but it’s unlikely that most people in the field today always knew they would end up there. If you ask grade-school children what they want to be when they grow up, you’re more likely to hear “fireman” or “astronaut” than “copy editor.”

Brian Seifferlein, Videography-Editor at NET Nebraska

Brian Seifferlein, Videography-Editor at NET Nebraska. Photo taken by Will Stott

This was the case for Brian Seifferlein. He didn’t have any idea he would end up in a career in editing; it was something that just fell into his lap. In an interview about his life and his career, Seifferlein expressed a different view of editing than we traditionally think about.

Seifferlein is a videography-editor at NET Nebraska. Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) is a statewide network that provides educational public broadcasting through television and radio. Based in Lincoln, Neb., it is the state’s affiliate for PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and NPR (National Public Radio). Seifferlein works for NET Nebraska’s television station.

Q: When did you decide you were interested in editing?

A:
 In editing? Well, I guess that has more to do with my TV career in general. I went to school to either be a teacher or a journalist, and the school I went to was pretty well known for both of those, so I thought, “well, I’ll just go there and figure it out.”

My first semester I auditioned for the campus TV station. I was an actor, and I just had a really good time. Then I started writing my own stuff, which kind of led to directing it, which kind of led to putting it all together. So, from there, I got my own show on the campus television station and when you’re putting together these shows, the shooting’s always really fun. But then, you find yourself in an edit suite. We were doing tape-to-tape editing, at 3 o’clock in the morning. And when I was doing it a couple of times I had to ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”

I wasn’t doing it for a grade or anything, and it wasn’t for… It wasn’t for anything, really! I mean it was for the “experience” or whatever, but there was a point at which I was like, “You know, I’m doing this and it kind of sucks being here in the morning, but I really like it, and I’m not even getting paid to do it.” I think that was kind of the point when I realized; shooting and editing, I really like that.

Q: How did you end up at NET? What were some career moves that happened between college and now?

A:  (After college) I moved back home and decided, “Alright, I’m just going to start applying to all these TV stations,” a lot of which were in the local area. One of those was in South Bend, La., and I never heard anything from them. But then, a long time later, I got this call from Augusta, Ga., and apparently the same company that owned the South Bend station owned their station, as well. They called and we did a few phone interviews, and I went there to work for them sight unseen.

I really enjoyed that time of my life, but I found that I really didn’t like TV news. In my opinion, if you tell somebody there was a house-fire or a break in, that isn’t really helping anybody. It’s just gawking. But there were occasional glimpses of what you could really do with the medium that would be helpful. But at the same time, it was just great, because you shot and edited every day. You just perfected the craft. You could really get into a mode where you stopped thinking about the basics. There was a point when I was doing that when there was never any stress on a shoot. I felt like I knew what I was doing every time, and that gave me the freedom to start being more creative. I wasn’t even thinking about the basics anymore. I wanted to leave, though. I wanted to get out there. I started looking all over the country and I found I wanted to get into public TV. Nebraska was the first one I found and got offered a position at.

Q: now that you’re here, what’s your average day like?

A:  When I’m editing a long documentary, I’ll be in an edit suite for maybe two or three months on an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. day. So, those are what get down to my average days. I work eight to five whether it’s a long project or short project. I get a script from a producer, and I look at that script. From there I try to organize my project on the technology that we use. I divide up the footage and figure out what all footage we have. There’s a lot of methodology for that. If it’s a huge documentary and they’ve shot lots of stuff, I have to figure out where it all is and how to organize it.

After that, I’ll start building scenes. Whatever little scenes are within a five-minute piece or an hour-long piece, I start building those scenes. On an hour-long documentary, you kind of forget about the whole rest of the program while you’re working on this five-minute piece. I build those scenes, which are usually directed a lot of times around music. That’s something that’s changed since I first started here. I used to build the scene with that footage. I’d organize all of the back-and-forth between the narrator and the sound bites, or even just the sound bites. Now, I don’t do that. I get the music right away that kind of drives the scene, and then start working from there.

At some point in there, a producer comes in and we work on it together. Does the scene work? Does the scene flow? We look at whether the piece writes well once it’s up on the screen and whether or not it looks okay. Because, what might have to happen next is the writing might need to change.  There might not be the editing that can save it, if that makes sense.

Q:  If you had to give some advice to people just starting their careers in editing, what would you tell them?

A:  It’s an interesting field, because it’s really driven by technology, and that technology is always changing. So you have to stay on top of the technology. The other thing is, you can’t get hung up on the technology so much that it becomes an excuse for how you create your product. No matter what, you should always be learning.

The other thing, overall, I think is with editing. When you’re doing editing, you kind of have to trust your instincts and really go with them, while still being flexible. But then, you also have to be prepared, be flexible enough, to throw everything you did down the toilet. Just wipe the slate clean and start all over.

So yeah, that’s my advice. I think, it’s a little bit generic, but it boils down to a “be flexible, but follow your instincts,” kind of thing.

Important part of editor’s job is listening to her readers

January 24, 2014 1 comment

By Sarah Vogel
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Working at a small newspaper comes with challenges as well as rewards. After her junior year in college as an education major, Mary Lou Rodgers decided that teaching was not for her. She switched to journalism because she knew that writing was one of her strengths. With a degree in journalism from Creighton University, she did not decide to be an editor. However, an opportunity arose, she tried it out and ended up finding a great fit.

Mary Lou Rodgers, editor of the Douglas County Post-Gazette. Photo credit: Mary Lou Rodgers

Mary Lou Rodgers, editor of the Douglas County Post-Gazette (Photo courtesy of Mary Lou Rodgers)

Rodgers became editor of the Douglas County Post-Gazette in October of 1998 after she had held the assistant editor position at the paper for the previous 12 months. This newspaper covers the towns of Elkhorn, Bennington, Waterloo and Valley, as well as the school districts of Bennington, Douglas County West and Elkhorn and the Mount Michael High School. All are near the city of Omaha.

Planning and publishing a weekly newspaper, as well as sorting through daily emails, are some of Rogers’ day-to-day responsibilities. She also has to look for stories, assign stories, proofread and edit, process photos, write school board stories, plan for special sections and decide what goes on each page of the paper.

Though small, the newspaper’s readership has been growing. The main draw is that the families in the area “see pictures of their kids playing football that would never appear in the World-Herald, for instance, since that paper has so many schools to cover,” Rodgers said in an email interview. “We are able to build some trust with our readers.”

Rodgers said the more personal aspect of her job is “listening to people who call to tell you their story, which is not really a story we can do, but they just need an ear,” she said. “Or listening to a complaint and trying to handle it diplomatically and make a correction.” She said the best part of her job is “I work with some great people, and we all pull together to put out a quality publication.”

The newspaper has a print and an online version. The print version has been published for more than 80 years. It also has all the stories, whereas the online version is just a sampling, containing teasers of a few news and sports stories. The paper usually has 12-16 pages, though sometimes special sections are inserted for more news. The Douglas County Post-Gazette sends out sample papers occasionally, and once new residents find the paper, Rodgers said they usually subscribe.

Social media are beginning to come into play a little more, but because the paper has such a small staff, it’s difficult to monitor social media as much as is required. The Post-Gazette’s Facebook page is up-to-date and contains small blurbs on what will be in the paper.

“It’s interesting every day and different every week,” Rodgers said about her job. “I am never bored – sometimes a little overwhelmed – but never bored.”