Archive for the ‘finals’ Category

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.


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



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


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.

Publisher and editor-in-chief says diverse skills help reporters

December 11, 2016 1 comment
Darran Fowler

Darran Fowler is the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Hastings Tribune.

By Collin Spilinek
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Instead of attending college after his high school graduation, Darran Fowler spent three years working odd jobs at grain elevators and construction sites.

He eventually decided to become a journalist and enrolled in the College of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1987.

“That was always my dream,” Fowler said in a phone interview.

Since 2010, Fowler has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Hastings Tribune, serving Hastings, Nebraska. He’s worked at the publication since 1995.

The career should have been an obvious choice for Fowler, who spent his childhood at the Tribune. His father worked in the printing department for 40 years, operating the press.

“So, I worked part time at the sports department when I was in high school,” Fowler said. “I caught papers off the press and worked in the production circulation area part time.”

Fowler said that later in high school, some of his classmates were having difficulty in deciding what they wanted to do with their lives.

“I’m unique in that I knew what I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to work in a newspaper.”

After graduating from UNL in 1991, Fowler joined the staff of the Plainview News, a weekly newspaper based out of Plainview, Nebraska. It was here that Fowler said he got his first real training in the newspaper business.

“I was a jack of all trades,” Fowler said. “I wrote the stories, whether it was news or sports, I laid out the pages, I attended all the school board meetings, Chamber of Commerce meetings, sold advertising, took the pictures, did all of the negatives, all that stuff.”

Fowler stayed at the publication until 1995, when he returned to the Hastings Tribune to work as a regional editor. After taking the positions of city editor and managing editor, Fowler replaced Don Seaton as publisher, who had held the title since 1974.

An early riser, Fowler usually unlocks the building in the morning and locks it back up at night.

“When I come here, that’s when I plan and prepare for that day’s newspaper,” he said. “And I have a pretty good idea before I even get there what’s going to be in the paper, but then I go through and I check out as far as whether there’s been any developments locally or anything like that.”

Fowler also works on preparing the paper’s newsletter, which is sent out in email blasts. He also reads through the copy and lays out three pages of the paper, including the opinion page.

“And then it’s just making sure that, through the team of people here, that we’re putting things on the app, we’re getting things on the website,” Fowler said. “In a lot of cases, I’m doing that particularly during the odd hours in the evenings or weekends.”

Although he noted the cyclical routine schedule of the paper and the high amount of stress, Fowler said he loves getting to work with other people who share his passion for journalism.

“And no one’s getting rich at it, but it’s in our blood, and this is what we enjoy doing,” he said. “It’s just hard to explain, but I enjoy coming here to work. I find that fun.”

One of the more difficult aspects of Fowler’s position is talking to people in the community about what the paper is to them.

“There may be some perception out there that we’re dinosaurs and we’re dying,” Fowler said. “And I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. We’re actually, more or less, growing.”

In 2011, the paper had a circulation of 9,356 for Hastings, which had a population of 24,907 in 2010, and the surrounding area. Fowler said the internet has allowed the audience to expand rapidly in the past 15 years.

“We are reaching a bigger audience than we were 10 or 15 years ago,” Fowler said. “While they may not always be reading the newspaper, they’re reading it in some fashion, whether it be on their laptop, their desktop, their smartphone or the actual printed copy.”

The paper has tried to use the internet for its advantage for years. In the summer of 2016, Fowler and other members of the paper worked on a phone application for the newspaper. The app is available for both iOS and Android.

“We’re still kicking the tires around on that thing, and we got to do better at it, there’s no doubt about it,” Fowler said.

With different platforms of news available to the public, Fowler said the paper has to work together to decide which information is published online  and what information is put into print. The relationship between print and online almost causes a mini-rivalry within the paper.

“Basically what my approach is, is the website and the newspaper don’t compete against each other, they complement each other,” Fowler said. “A lot of [the decision is] just being smart and what your instincts are.”

The internet has provided small newspapers the ability to break a story and give important or critical information to the public at any time of the day.

But with the rise of fake news on social media outlets such as Facebook, Fowler said he wanted the paper’s online presence to reflect the trust gained from the print version. Having a dedicated team of reporters do all the work themselves is one way to gain this trust.

“I guess that speaks volumes about the credibility of newspapers and their websites,” Fowler said. “We still practice the basic fundamentals of good journalism through solid writing and solid editing.”

Fowler also said it’s critical for newspapers, especially smaller ones, to hire people with a variety of skills, including photography, writing for different sections, editing and layout and being able to work with technology.

“That’s how it’s really changed, and as far as I’m concerned, at an operation like ours, a small daily newspaper, those people that have that kind of a skill set are very valuable,” Fowler said.

When it comes to editing skills, Fowler said it takes years of practice, but the more you read and write, the better you’ll be at editing. He also suggested reading stories over in the eyes of the average reader.

“If I have to go back and read a sentence or paragraph a second time, one, I either got distracted, which often times [may] be the case, or there’s something wrong with it that I had to go read it again to understand it,” Fowler said. “At that point, I’m the reader, and so I don’t want the reader to have the same experience.”

The Hastings Tribune has a role to serve in the community, and Fowler believes having these skills will help fill that role.

“And there’s no replacing just good, solid journalism,” Fowler said. “We’re not The New York Times or The Washington Post, but we cover things in Hastings and our surrounding area just as aggressively as they cover the national news.”

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First music, then media, now motherhood for Carrie Malek-Madani

December 11, 2016 1 comment

By Amy Svoboda
University of Nebraska- Lincoln


Carrie Malek-Madani is communication coordinator at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. (Photo courtesy of Malek-Madani.)

Carrie Malek-Madani will return to her position as communications coordinator at the Lied Center for Performing Arts with a new title under her belt: mother.

Malek-Madani is enjoying maternity leave with her newborn daughter, Eleanor, but in February the new mom will resume the position she has held for more than three years.

Malek-Madani is swapping her daily tasks of writing press releases, pitching to reporters, responding to patron inquiries and formatting mass Lied emails for changing diapers and a demanding around-the-clock bottle feeding schedule. Both are daunting tasks, but Malek-Madani has a much longer history in public relations than in parenting.

After graduation from the University of Colorado, her first job was a paid internship at SSPR, a public relations firm based in Chicago with satellite offices all around the country. The internship developed into a full-time job, where Malek-Madani represented companies as renowned as Patagonia and Groupon, but working with for-profit companies was not what she had envisioned for herself.

Working with a non-profit like the Lied Center is “the perfect fit” for Malek-Madani. It is close to her home state of South Dakota, plus the performing arts are something Malek-Madani has always adored. She grew up singing, dancing and playing musical instruments.

“My position at the Lied Center provides a perfect marriage between my personal interests and my professional skill set,” she said.

Working for a non-profit has its drawbacks too, like the limited resources because of a strict budget and tight time constraints. She says the Lied could benefit from more time to evaluate the products it is producing, but that is not always possible in such a busy industry.

“We are rarely afforded time to debrief,” Malek-Madani said.

The communications coordinator is working on her master’s degree from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln just down the street from the Lied Center.

She has a brief history with journalism, having worked for several small newspapers while in college. Now she focuses on building relationships with reporters who could earn the Lied Center future media coverage.

Malek-Madani says that developing relationships with reporters, other non-profit and arts organizations, artists and management teams is the most important skill required for her job.

“I think a lot of communicators don’t understand what powerful skills making a first impression, connecting with people and being kind, likable, positive and memorable are,” she said.

Editing plays a vital role in Malek-Madani’s career too. She regularly edits content for playbills, promotional materials, fundraising materials and articles about the Lied Center. She also proofreads all communication to donors, whose generosity helps run the non-profit. She even reviews important emails that Lied Center executives want a second opinion on.

“Always, always, always get a second pair of eyes on everything,” she said. “It is easy to miss the same mistakes over and over when you are close to a project.”

As for the evolution of the communication field, Malek-Madani says she has noticed drastic changes already in her relatively short career. She believes there are going to be increased expectations for PR professionals to have journalism skills  because of editorial and writing staffs decreases. She said numerous media outlets have asked her to cover the Lied Center for them because they are short-staffed, even asking for help with photography and videography.

“Media outlets may not have the manpower to cover an event but will gladly accept and publish our materials, provided they are editorial quality,” Malek-Madani said.

When asked if editing really does matter, she eagerly exclaimed that “it’s everything,” adding that it greatly shapes the way the public views the Lied Center.

“I am hypercritical of organizations that don’t take the time and care to perfect their donor and marketing materials. It’s not difficult, it just takes time and attention to detail.”

Malek-Madani compares PR to being a new mother, saying both are around-the-clock jobs. She admits that she often put her career before personal time with family and friends, but hopes that baby Eleanor will help balances out her priorities.

“I hope to be an excellent example for Eleanor of someone who can simultaneously manage a rewarding career, marriage and motherhood.”

Being a know-it-all makes a great editor: Schreier and his many hats

December 11, 2016 1 comment

John Schreier is the managing editor of The Daily Nonpareil. Photo courtesy of John Schreier

By Hannah Pachunka
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The hours are crazy. The pay is low. Little credit is given. But journalists do what they do because they have passion and curiosity.

That’s true for John Schreier, the managing editor of The Daily Nonpareil newspaper in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Growing up, Schreier wanted to write novels. While attending Papillion La-Vista High School, his interest in journalism sparked.

The excitement and varied experience drew him in.

“That’s what keeps me coming day in and day out; I would never not want to be a journalist,” Schreier said during an interview at his office.

As a 16-year-old, he was one of the few teenagers reading a newspaper every day. He said he was a know-it-all growing up, and that is what an editor needs to be.

“Being in charge, you need to wear a lot of hats,” Schreier said. Editing is not the only duty of the managing editor. Schreier needs to be able to jump around, knowing where and when he is needed.

This job is perfect for him because he didn’t want to be working at a desk all day. Working in a newsroom means there are no typical days in the office, and he loves that.

Schreier’s path started with his internships in Hastings and Sutton after he sent out applications all over Nebraska. He later earned an editing internship at the Denver Post through  Dow Jones and then eventually a job at the Omaha World-Herald. Unfortunately, being a morning person and working a 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift wasn’t going to work out for very long. He moved to a weekly paper, owned by the same company.

Schreier initially thought that he would be a sports reporter. The opportunity never arose for that; however, many others did.

“The path to get where you want to go is not a straight line; mine was a very jagged line,” he said. For Schreier, this was not a bad thing.

Schreier was working in Papillion when his boss took a position at The Daily Nonpareil. Schreier started in the online department there after his former boss told him about the job opening. He worked his way up to the managing editor position.

His passion is talking to people and telling their stories. Schreier understands that the reader needs to be come first because journalism is nothing without them.

As managing editor, he answers complaints from readers. One day he received a phone call from an upset woman who found errors in the crosswords. Schreier felt like he let her down. He said journalism isn’t about the journalists and what they do — journalism is about the readers.

These days, reporters and editors must do more than just edit. When both of Schreier’s photographers are busy, he sends a reporter to take his or her own photos. He said being versatile is important.

Versatility also relieves tension in the newsroom. Lack of experience in reporting can cause difficulty for a copy editor. Having an understanding of each position in the newsroom helps the team be more successful.

The newsroom needs to be a coherent team that works together. He knows his team has his back. Having connections and friendships in the newsroom makes the process much easier.

“Journalism is an art and a science,” Schreier said. Strong writing skills mean nothing with poor research skills — and vice versa.

Schreier is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the journalists on his team. If a journalist lacks in one skill, he coaches and works with him or her to create work that is valuable to readers.

Just in the five years since Schreier graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, journalism’s pace has sped up. The focus is shifting to online news.

Schreier had to use online resources to learn web coding to do more for the online paper. Web coding is a skill he wished he focused on a little more before his position. He used MySpace as coding practice.

Schreier said a reoccurring challenge for posting online news is figuring out how to stand out because readers have so many options to get their news.

“I don’t know what it’s going to look like next year, let alone in the next 10 years,” Schreier said when asked what media will look like in 10 years. His two predictions for the future are that information will come from more diverse sources and news will be free. He said people don’t want to pay for news when it’s so easily accessible for free.

Often people forget that journalists are normal people with interests and opinions. Schreier has had upset readers accuse the paper of leaning too far in one political direction.

“I don’t hate your candidate. I don’t hate your team,” he said when asked what people should know about his job.

He pointed to his Cubs pennant hanging on the wall in his office and talked about how he has his own favorite teams and political stance, but that is all put aside in the newspaper. His team tries its best to be fair in reporting.

Schreier would advise any up-and-coming journalists to find their niche. He says it’s important to be well-read, persistent and prepared to hear ‘no’ more than ‘yes.’ Aspiring journalists need to be prepared for constant change.

When Schreier is hiring, he looks for someone who is hungry for journalism. Journalism is challenging and not for everyone.  Those who succeed are dedicated and passionate to find the truth for the readers.

Multimedia professor offers advice to next generation of journalists

December 11, 2016 Leave a comment

Octavio Kano-Galvan is a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He helps students grasp the concepts presented by different mediums such as video, photography and text. Before becoming a teacher, Kano worked as a photographer, cinematographer and camera operator. In this short video interview, Kano talks about his experience and offers advice for students.

Octavio Kano-Galvan

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