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World traveler uses photojournalism to inspire dreams

May 3, 2018 Leave a comment

Dean Jacobs, world traveler, photojournalist, contributing columnist for Fremont Tribune (Photo courtesy of Dean Jacobs)

By Meg Rice
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Many children dream of traveling the world and exploring exciting places. For Dean Jacobs, this dream became a reality.

Since 2001, Jacobs has traveled to 58 countries. He documents and brings his experiences to life through his photography and writings. 

“My mission is to find amazing images, both in photography form and written form,” Jacobs said. “I want to bring them back and transform them into teachable moments for others.”

In 2010, Jacobs created Travel 4 Life, a nonprofit organization that uses photojournalism and stories to remind others of the beauty of the world that he said many people often forget. He travels the U.S., giving presentations to teach others, especially kids, about the world and to inspire them to dream.

“I want to remind people of their dreams and challenge them to be the best version of themselves,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs is not only a world-traveling photojournalist, but he writes a column for the Fremont Tribune and has written two books.

Jacobs teaches writing skills in his educational workshops. As a photographer, he uses his photos to help others connect with the life around them and to appreciate the beauty of the world.

Coming from a smaller town in Nebraska, Jacobs said he learned to enjoy the simplicity of life at a young age. But he also understands the challenges of achieving big dreams.

“My dream as a child was to travel around the world,” Jacobs said. “I wish someone would’ve told me when I was four years old that it was realistic, I could’ve gotten here sooner.”

Jacobs was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, where he lived on a farm for five years before his family moved to Fremont, Nebraska.

He graduated from Wayne State College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and minors in earth science and art. His only experience with journalism was two classes he had taken in college.

“Journalism was something I did for fun,” Jacobs said. “But it was also political because I was student council president in college and I wanted to have the paper on my side.”

It wasn’t until after college and he was working at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in sales and marketing that he began to dabble in journalism. He started to shoot photos as a hobby.

“Photography is a set of skills that I had to learn over time,” Jacobs said. “My work in the beginning was very average. Eventually, I could see my work getting better.”

Jacobs began as a working as a photographer for the Fremont Tribune in 2004. He said he had to learn how to think in the photojournalistic style.

“You need to edit and craft the images in your mind before capturing an image,” Jacobs said.

In 2007, Jacobs started to write for the Fremont Tribune as a columnist and wrote about his experiences around the world.

“It became clear to me that if I was going to travel and use what I do to make a difference,” Jacobs said. “Writing was a skill set I needed that would impact a lot of people.”

Jacobs is now a freelance photographer and writer for the paper. His column is full of stories about his travels. 

“I don’t get paid a lot, the nickels and dimes add up eventually,” Jacobs said. “But the real opportunity is that it keeps me writing, which hopefully sometime in the future will transform into another book.”

His first book, “Wondrous Journey” is about his first trip around the world. His second book, “Wondrous Creatures” is an award-winning children’s book about the animal kingdom.

Looking through his children’s book, it’s easy to see that Jacobs has accomplished his dream and seen the world. He said one of his remaining goals is to visit Antartica.

“My advice to you is to always dream big, live tall,” Jacobs said. “So we can make the world better.”

As a photojournalist, Jacobs’ advice is to be intentional and committed to your work.

“Challenge yourself to be the best you can be,” Jacobs said. “Life rewards those who put themselves in the game in a big way.”

 

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Raun celebrates 25 years in editing, witnesses changes in journalism

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Andy Raun, news staff supervisor at the Hastings Tribune (Photo courtesy of Andy Raun)

By Noël Hrnchir
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

From no technology to Twitter, journalism has drastically changed over the past few decades.

Andy Raun has experienced it firsthand.

Raun has been an editor at the Hastings Tribune for 25 years and was recently made news staff supervisor. The Tribune covers all or parts of 13 counties in southern Nebraska and northern Kansas.

Raun’s passion for journalism began the summer after his sophomore year of high school at the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Conference. The conference was held in Lincoln and included talks from multiple people in journalism. Mike Strickland, a speaker and journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, stuck out to Raun.

“I remember Strickland, among others, saying that there were great changes ahead,” Raun said. “I think the suggestion was that, by about this time, things would have changed a lot. And they have.”

This change did not intimidate Raun but rather intrigued him. He decided to major in journalism at the UNL.

“I learned to do things the old-fashioned way, so my orientation is kind of more old school,” Raun said. “There are people who were there who were just a year or two younger than I am who were doing computerized layout.”

Raun worked for the Hastings Tribune as a summer intern after his junior year of college in 1992. The following summer, he was offered a full-time position as the city government reporter. He has been with the Tribune since.

He was promoted to the position of regional editor, which, at the Tribune is also the farm news editor. It was just in the past few months that Raun was promoted to the supervisor of the news staff.

During his 25 years with the Tribune, Raun said that job cuts have risen significantly and doing more with fewer people is a common theme. Only two people work as editors.

“What’s happened is the size of the staff has been reduced through attrition. There haven’t been layoffs. It’s just a matter of a lot of times when somebody will leave… they will always be looking to see if there’s some way that we can be more efficient,” Raun said.

And being a journalist means dealing with some uncertainty these days.

“There was a lot that was happening in the early ’90s that set us in the direction of advanced technology,” Raun said. “A lot of questions were being raised as to what the future was of this industry.”

The future of journalism is still unknown. Raun says that the key is making all of the relevant platforms of today part of the operation and figuring out how to make them better for the audience.

“The older folks value the newspaper product that they have always known,” Raun said. “At the same time, the younger generation does not necessarily need a printed paper for their experience. Our job is to meet the needs of both audiences.”

Because journalism is constantly changing, journalists are constantly learning. To be happy in your career as a journalist, Raun said that you must love to learn.

“Ask yourself how you feel about learning. If you see yourself as a lifelong learner, then you will enjoy your career.”

Web mastermind takes over the internet one headline at a time

By Camille Paddock
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Most kids at the age of 9 want to be teachers or astronauts or firefighters, but Travis Siebrass dreamt of becoming a journalist.

His parents always got the Omaha World-Herald delivered to their house, which is what he credits to his peculiar childhood dream.

Travis Siebrass

“I loved the paper and I loved Nebraska football,” Siebrass said in a phone interview. “I always wanted to be a journalist because of that.”

While it may seem like Siebrass had it all figured out, he had a hard time finding his perfect fit in the world of journalism.

He wore many hats over the span of his professional career including news, sports, print and web before finally settling down in his position as the digital editor for the Daily Herald in the Chicagoland area.

Siebrass was born and raised in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in news editorial journalism.

A professor recommended Siebrass apply for an internship with the Daily Herald during his senior year in college. After graduating from UNL, Siebrass landed the position and only planned on staying in Chicago for the year-long internship.

But that is not how life turned out for Siebrass. When his year was up, the company offered him a full-time position, an offer he couldn’t pass up. He’s been working at the Daily Herald since.

In a typical day, Siebrass comes in around 5:30 a.m. and reads the note left by the overnight staff who have the morning articles ready. He looks over the homepage and the headlines and decides if anything needs to be changed.

“My favorite part is changing a headline and immediately watching [views] spike,” Siebrass said.

In fact, that is the big difference between print and web. On the print side, there is no way to see if your work attracted an audience, he said.

Online articles are constantly being tracked in terms of viewer engagement. This data is analyzed and changes can be made to articles and headlines in order to boost viewership. Since there is no way to track how many people actually read an article in print, web has become increasingly popular.

“I’m glad I made the move,” Siebrass said. “That’s where the future is.”

Siebrass’ advice for students is simple: He encourages all journalism students to take risks and reach out for internships.

“There is no substitute for experience,” Siebrass said. “Being out there in the real world is the best teacher of all.”

Pitzer uses journalism, editing skills to revolutionize rural media

By Dylan Widger
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Turning a newspaper from a small town paper into the top weekly paper in the state is no small feat.

Carrie Pitzer did it in two years.

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Carrie Pitzer, owner of Pitzer Digital and My Local County News

 Pitzer owns Pitzer Digital and is editor-in-chief of My Local County News in Neligh, Nebraska. During her career, she has served as editor of her college publication as well as a reporter and editor at the Fremont Tribune and the Norfolk Daily News.

Pitzer became interested in journalism  in high school. She worked for the yearbook at Orchard Public School in Orchard, Nebraska. Tom Osborne, the head football coach for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the time, came to Orchard to visit one of the players on the football team who was graduating and looking to play at the college level.

Osborne was and continues to be a legend in Nebraska, and everyone wanted to meet him while he was there. However, he only met with the coach and the player as well as a school yearbook staffer. Pitzer was selected to interview him, and she said that being able to meet and interview a celebrity like Osborne sparked her interest in journalism.

Now with more experience in journalism, she said, her favorite part of the job has shifted.

“That opened my eyes to the opportunities with the role,” she said, “which is interesting since my favorite part of what I do is the opposite — showcasing the efforts of lesser-known people.”

Pitzer graduated from Midland University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in December of 2000. While there, she worked for campus publications and became the youngest editor-in-chief of the yearbook at the age of 19.

Right out of high school and during her time in college, Pitzer started writing sports stories for the Norfolk Daily News. While balancing school, work and the long commute between Norfolk and Fremont, she started writing for national sports publications.

During her third year of college, she accepted a full-time position at the Norfolk Daily News as a reporter. While there, she earned many awards for writing, design and photography. In 2003, she was given the Associated Press Sports Column of the Year award for her story after Nebraska fired defensive coordinator Craig Bohl. 

“That was a big deal for a small daily newspaper,” she said.

Carrie and her husband, Wade, purchased land in Antelope County and returned home in 2005 to build a home and start a family. They have lived in the area with their two daughters, Shelby and Izzy, since.

After the move, Carrie continued working at the Norfolk Daily News until 2012. In 2013, the Pitzers opened Pitzer Digital, a marketing and multimedia company in Neligh. They have since expanded to include publications such as the Antelope County News and Knox County News.

Having a small town newspaper helps showcase community members who are making a big impact on the people and the communities around them. For Pitzer, this is the best part of her job.

“I’ve interviewed more celebrities and well-known individuals than I can even remember, but the best part of my job is showcasing the efforts of ordinary people,” she said. “Most people don’t believe there is anything special about them, so to find that specialty and showcase it is very rewarding. Everyone deserves their moment in the spotlight, and I’m proud to have a publication that works hard to recognize those efforts.”

In 2016, Pitzer Digital purchased the Orchard News and started publication of the Antelope County News along with the Orchard paper. Later that year, the Nebraska Press Association (NPA) recognized the Orchard News as one of the top three fastest-growing publications in the state of Nebraska in their division. In 2018, the Orchard News was recognized as the Best Weekly Newspaper in the state of Nebraska.

Pitzer said that she takes a lot of pride in accomplishing so much in such a short time. 

“I’m pretty proud of that because we were able to make that big of a turnaround within our first year,” she said. “It’s incredible how far we managed to come in just under a year.”

Pitzer said that her biggest piece of advice for student journalists is to start at the bottom and get valuable real-world experience.

“I’m running into a lot of students that have been pampered and not given real-world experience,” she said. “They need to have more entry-level opportunities so they can learn how to do these things to help them prepare for the better positions later on.”

Vincent Tuss’ journey to becoming an editor started with an internship

December 12, 2017 Leave a comment

by Monica Uzpen
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

International relations isn’t a traditional major for journalists, but don’t tell Vincent Tuss that.

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Vincent Tuss, night homepage producer at the Star Tribune

Vincent Tuss, night homepage producer at the Star Tribune and professional copy editor, said international relations is all about helping people connect with and understand each other, which is a big part of what journalists do.

Throughout his career, he has been doing just that.

Tuss received his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in 1994. Afterwards, he won the Dow Jones News Fund internship, worked as a copy editor for many publications, joined ACES: the Society for Editing and finally landed a job at the Star Tribune. But he was interested in journalism far before crossing his graduation stage.

“I was thinking about doing it in high school, but the timing didn’t work out,” Tuss said.

His interest came from reading The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, his hometown papers, which Tuss said were big and vibrant with lots of personality. It would take him until his senior year in college to act on this interest and join his college paper.

After that the rest is history. Literally history.

After he graduated, the Cold War made jobs in international relations hard to get, and Tuss knew he had what it took to be a journalist, so he accepted a Dow Jones internship, which places students in internships across the country after they take a highly competitive editing test.

That internship was like a two-week boot camp. Taught by a former Marine and journalism professor, the program had Tuss taking spelling and geography tests too difficult to pass.

“The idea was not so much that you had to learn everything, but to make you realize what you didn’t know, which is a lot.”

After the internship, Tuss pursued a career in sports journalism, which he always had a passion for. He started out covering women’s soccer and eventually worked his way up to men’s basketball, but soon realized everyone wanted to do sports and that there was little room in that industry. That’s when he realized he’d be great at editing.

“The more I did it, the more I liked it, the more I thought I was good at it.”

Now, he works as a night homepage producer at the Star Tribune, using all the experience he gained from editing. The biggest challenge? Trying to fill in the gap of what can make a story and what can’t.

And of course, trying to get everyone on the same page to fill that gap.

Tuss said that it’s especially difficult at night because the discussion of what to put in and leave out of the paper already happened. But Tuss also understands the importance of working with other people and communication.

“As much as we like to put a name on a story, it’s all a cooperative effort.”

The culture of his workplace is shifting to help make communication easier. The layout of his office, which he called The Hub, has changed to make the workplace more collaborative. Small innovations like this are just the tip of the iceberg in a changing field like journalism.

To keep up with the changes, Tuss recommends that aspiring journalists stay curious. Keep learning because you don’t know where the industry will be in two years, let alone 10.

But you don’t just have to look to the future to improve your skills. Tuss said that he wished he focussed more on writing, as well as other basic skills.

“You’re a better editor if you’re a writer and you’re a better writer if you’re an editor.”

Learning to write and sell paved the way for Pavelka

December 10, 2017 Leave a comment

By Alexis Libal
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

 

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Mary “”Maggie Pavelka believes writing is a skill transferable to any job.

As a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Mary “Maggie” Pavelka was confident she didn’t want to go into traditional advertising work.

 And she didn’t.

 Instead, she has worked for nonprofits, the Peace Corps and, now, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

Pavelka was born and raised a Husker.  She attended Lincoln Southeast High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations.  

On campus, she took advantage of opportunities for paid internships and believes that other students should too.  One of her internships was marketing with the UNL athletic department while another was at the Lied Center doing events and outreach.

The skills she learned in those internships applied to to her jobs after college. Learning to write well and acquiring other skills as a student helped lead her to where she is today. 

“I could write and talk to anybody,” Pavelka said.  “I think those two hard and soft skills are incredibly powerful in whatever you want to go into.”

Pavelka’s first job out of college was at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (an advocacy and outreach organization for type one diabetes).  At the foundation, she did a lot event planning and volunteer management.  She applied her design and creative thinking skills to recreate the website.  She also got experience with hosting events, meetings and radio interviews.   

After working with the foundation, Pavelka’s next journey was in West Africa with the U.S. Peace Corps for two years.  She didn’t know she would end up living as far away from Lincoln as she does now, but she did know she wanted international experience.  

For the past five years, Pavelka has lived in Washington D.C., working for Deloitte.   Most people know Deloitte for its tax and audit branch.  However, she works in the consulting arm of Deloitte, which assists businesses.   As a manager, she helps her team of employees become better writers and designers.

“One of my best assets during college, and I didn’t know it at the time, was that I had friends across every major,” Pavelka said.  “D.C. was a place I figured out might be right for me because a heck of a lot of those people I knew ended up here too.  And again, it wasn’t on my radar until after school. I think that’s the best thing students at any school can do is understand where everyone is headed.”

Pavelka said the change in media has had an effect on her job.  Her team is often given the task of assisting with digital media management.  They have created new approaches for clients seeking media help.  It’s important to build a workforce that understands digital content.

“I believe there is less focus on social media as one thing and far more of an attempt to understand the digital landscape, which is far more inclusive.”

She does not know if D.C., is her final stop as her firm is looking to expand, which may lead to more opportunities for her.   She loves being able to lead teams and sees herself as an editor for her team.  The team works hard to engage closely with their clients.  They want to produce the best material possible for their clients.

She was a big fan of taking classes in and outside of her major because she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do.  For example, one of her favorite courses was art history.

Pavelka said students should take classes in and outside of the journalism school, which will give them transferable skills.

 

Ryan Rothman: from architecture student to social media strategist

December 9, 2017 Leave a comment

By Amanda Callaway
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Ryan Rothman is a social media strategist for a local marketing agency, Hurrdat

Ryan Rothman started out at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying architecture. 

He changed his mind, pivoting into advertising and public relations.

And he hasn’t regretted it at all.

Rothman is a social media strategist working for Hurrdat, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. He started at the company only seven months ago after graduating from the university in May.

Hurrdat was founded in 2010 by former Nebraska football players who wanted to do sports social media marketing. In 2014, the company was later bought by B2 Interactive and was turned into a full service social media marketing agency specializing in search engine optimization (SEO) and local search.

Even as a kid, Rothman had an affinity for advertising. He always remembered slogans and logos. But in middle school he decided to go into architecture. In his first six weeks in the program at UNL, he knew he’d made a mistake. His mother suggested advertising.

“I switched my major, took a couple classes and fell in love with it,” Rothman said, “and the rest is history.”

While at UNL, Rothman was a copywriter intern for the university. He also juggled freelance communication jobs as a video production assistant, a social media assistant and a photographer. And he was a member and director for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)

Although he juggled a lot, Rothman said the university job fit with his school schedule. And he’s a very organized person. He kept calendars for everything that he did and made sure not to procrastinate.

“I made sure I was focused while I was at work,” he said, “although I never had a problem juggling everything.”

Because of his organization skills he’s been able to handle the company’s multiple clientele. They are local and national including Hail Varsity online and magazine, Pinnacle Bank, Omaha Storm Chasers, Rimington Trophy, along with regional banks and other clients.

Every client is different in its social media scope, so some may have more audience on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. Rothman manages to keep track of all of his clients’ needs and their social media accounts.

He has worn many hats on the team — being a copy editor, copywriter and videographer. The team is small enough that he is able to take on roles.

His only regret coming into the job was that he didn’t have more graphic design experience. That would have been helpful to him working with social media.

His only complaint about his job? It’s not a 9-5 career. Sports doesn’t take time off and they certainly don’t get weekends off.  Rothman said that he’s only had one full weekend off in the seven months he’s worked with Hurrdat.

“Beyond that I absolutely love my job,” Rothman said.

He estimated that about 50 percent of his work is writing. Editing is a crucial skill and a lot of employers are looking for good writing skills,  Rothman said. 

Rothman has made small mistakes in his work, like once naming the wrong football conference. The lesson, he said, is to always double or triple-check names.

Editing should never be just a person looking at his or her own writing, he said. It needs to be collaborative. Everybody is going to make mistakes so it’s always good to have another set of eyes on your writing.

Another suggestion: If you’re going into advertising and public relations, don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility. Rothman had always asked for other tasks in other areas so that he could learn many different things about media. It’s paid off. In his job now, he works with both video and websites. 

And he suggested students should look for freelance work if they haven’t done an internship because many organizations need the help.

Even though architecture wasn’t for Rothman, he still appreciates it.

Still, he has no regrets. He’s loved the past seven months at Hurrdat.