Editor Ryan Scarrow helps save the world one manuscript at a time

Ryan Scarrow is a social sciences editor for Nature Plants & Sustainability Journal.

By Molli Miller
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Ryan Scarrow, a social sciences editor for Nature Plants & Sustainability Journal, does more than just edit.

Scarrow helps build a bridge between natural and human sciences research to help the Earth and keep it sustainable.

“This is how we are going to get through the environmental issues that we face: having a group of people that can communicate between the hard sciences and the rest of society,” Scarrow said.

Based in London, Scarrow is the only sociologist working at the research journal. He reads seven to nine manuscripts a week on research about environmental topics from different scientists, professors or researchers. After assessing these manuscripts he makes “desk judgments” where he decides if it is something to further review or if he will reject it.

“Anything that has to do with society at large in regards to plants or sustainability comes to me,” Scarrow said. “I was hired specifically to bring social science content into journals that have never featured it before. Nature journals don’t know how to handle sociology, anthropology, social psychology or economics.”

Next, Scarrow has to find professional reviewers or researchers in that field and send manuscripts to them, hoping they will take time out of their busy schedules to review it. He normally gets reviews back after three weeks. Then, the journal decides if the research is publishable or if it needs additional revisions.

If a manuscript gets published it sends a signal to the rest of science saying this is what Nature Plants & Sustainability considers to be important and stimulates the field to go in that direction.

Scarrow always had an interest in the environment, but his interest in journalism began in high school.

In fact his high school in Humboldt, Kansas, has the best journalism department in the state.

Scarrow’s favorite journalism teacher helped guide his way into the student newspaper, the yearbook, photography and online journalism. By his junior year he was chief editor of the school newspaper, and senior year his high school newspaper got inducted to the national hall of fame.

From there he pursued his journalism degree at the University of Kansas where he was involved in the student newspaper as a columnist and editorial writer. He also attended a publishing course at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Because he is deeply interested in the environment, organic agriculture, and sustainability, Scarrow received his Ph.D. in environmental sociology at Ohio State. He even taught globalization and society as well as technology and society courses there for seven years.

“I brought journalistic skepticism with me,” Scarrow said, and told his students: “I don’t expect you to agree with me, but I want you to be able to view this issue from a different perspective. Most of my students were in engineering school and weren’t being told this, they were being told how to do something, but I was the guy saying ‘yes but should you?’”

Scarrow found teaching these courses to be incredibly fascinating and hopes to go back to teaching someday.

“My students enjoyed the classes immensely because we discussed news, climate change, different technological achievements and whether or not they are actually good for society as we’re led to believe by tech people and media,” Scarrow said.

Scarrow enjoys his job at Nature Plants & Sustainability because it ties together the different threads of experience in his life of journalism, publishing and academic research.

Scarrow’s favorite part of his job is traveling.

“I get to travel so much more than I ever imagined,” he said. “I’ve visited Portland, Oregon, Athens,m Greece, lived in New York, now I live in London! I’m a boy from Kansas, that’s nuts to me.”

Scarrow is looking forward to visiting conferences in Capetown, Belgium, Beijing and Los Angeles with Nature Plants & Sustainability this year as well.

Another favorite aspect of his job is being exposed to research from around the world.

“It’s gratifying being able to see what the cutting edge research is in these fields and knowing you have a role in shaping what future research is going to be,” Scarrow said.

His job has many challenging factors too.

Scarrow is the first and only editor working with both human and natural sciences at Nature Plants & Sustainability. Being hired to do something no one else in the company has done before has been a continuous learning process for him and his supervisors.

Another challenge is figuring out how to get more research sent to the Nature Journal.

One way Scarrow does this is by networking and meeting people from around the world while traveling and asking them to send him their research.

A third significant challenge is getting researchers to take the time to review manuscripts for Nature Plants & Sustainability.

“Biologists and other scientists work in labs and have grants to do their research, the costs of time spent on writing and rewriting manuscripts and going to conferences is included in these grants,” Scarrow said. “Sociologists don’t have this luxury however; they must use their own time to review manuscripts.”

Scarrow had to explain to his supervisors that this amenity doesn’t really exist in sociology, anthropology, economics and psychology.

“No one is getting grants to do environmental sociology research,” Scarrow said. “They’re taking time out of their day to do this; they don’t have grad students they can pawn off to do this for them. It’s a matter of giving their time, which environmental journals expect researchers to do.”

Scarrow’s greatest challenge is perhaps the most rewarding one as well.

“This is a really big challenge — trying to convince a for-profit company that the work you’re doing is worthwhile, and that they should keep giving you the resources to do it,” Scarrow said. “But if some great collaboration can come out of it, if for example a biologist and sociologist can come together and realize how to take their research and make it more accessible, it can actually change the world in a concrete way.”

Scarrow offered some valuable advice for students looking into the field of environmental journalism.

“There’s a difference between the craft of writing and the substance of how to write well,” Scarrow said. “You can learn how to craft a good message, but to actually have some good weight behind it you have to build up a store of knowledge or context.”

Scarrow suggested supplementing a journalism degree with reading as much as possible about environmental issues.

“In order to really do a job well in a field like this, you need to have not just the knowledge of environment issues, you have to be able to place into context,” Scarrow said.

Reading, researching and keeping up with environmental news is essential to get into the career field.

“Being able to put your knowledge into context and speak to a potential employer about what you know will be a game changer,” Scarrow said. “Read as much as you can outside of what you do on a normal daily basis, that knowledge can only help you and will set you apart.”



Dennis Kellogg builds on experience, finds journalism in his blood

December 11, 2017 1 comment
Dennis Kellogg

Dennis Kellogg is news director of NET. Since he was 16, Kellogg has keyed in on experience only to find that journalism is in his blood.

By Cadrien Livingston
University of Nebraska-Livingston

As Einstein once said, the only source of knowledge is experience, and Dennis Kellogg of NET certainly has just that.

Ever since the news director was 16, he has improved himself by working day and night in numerous jobs. From being a DJ on the radio to sports and news anchor to becoming an editor, Kellogg has journalism in his blood.

The North Platte native recalls doing play-by-plays during all the sports games as a kid. By the time he got his first part-time job at a radio station, sports and news already flowed through his veins.

But Kellogg didn’t pursue a broadcast journalism degree in college. While he knew it was his passion, he wanted more experience. So, he headed to Dayton, Ohio, to major in business and marketing at the University of Dayton.

“I knew that in this profession it was important to get job experience, so I wanted to give myself a broader education,” Kellogg said.

And experience he gained. Kellogg worked the overnight shift as a DJ and joined the campus radio station team while in college. Later, he became a sports intern at a news station in Dayton, which he remembers as a great experience. While there, Kellogg gained the necessary skills to produce a sportscast, which came in handy later.

Upon graduation, Kellogg found himself back in his hometown working as a news anchor and later at KNOP as a sports anchor.

Eventually, Kellogg moved to Syracuse, New York, to obtain his master’s degree in broadcast journalism in a one-year program. While coursework filled his weekdays, Kellogg worked at NBC on weekends as a news reporter.

Finding himself homesick, he returned to Hastings, Nebraska, where he spent the next 12 years as the news director for KSNB. Seven years ago he moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, to serve as news director for NET, where he plays the leading part in assembling news content on the radio, television and digital.

“I’m the final gatekeeper and last set of eyes on the content we send out,” Kellogg said.

News department expectations are set high as signature stories are a specialty. Reporters have about one week to have a multiple-sourced story that covers diverse topics and specific issues. His favorite part is finding the solutions to the problems the news organization covers.  

“It’s a challenge,” he said. “It’s not your average news, but your challenging news. It’s a great public service and what journalism should be about. Asking the big questions and covering the big issues in our everyday lives.”

Kellogg also had the opportunity to produce a segment called, “Homecoming: The Impact on Nebraska Veterans,” which he highlights as one of his favorite team productions. As part of a team, you have people coming with different strengths and weaknesses, he said. He said while his newsroom does not run on a beat system, his reporters do have specific strengths in different areas such as agriculture, criminal justice or environmental issues.

“It makes the team stronger and the end product better,” Kellogg said.

While teamwork is essential for his newsroom, communication and inquisitiveness are key. It’s long hours, hard work and you will get criticized, Kellogg said. He points out that you can have the most significant story, but grabbing the audience’s attention is vital.

Although he’s held many jobs, Kellogg said each experience has helped him. 

“Experience is so valuable and equally valuable to what you’re going to learn in the classroom,” Kellogg said. “This is really a profession that you learn by doing it.”


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UNL student starts work three days after graduation

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment
Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 10.52.02 PM

Christian Folsom is a content producer for Channel 10/11 news.

By Erin Hunter
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Christian Folsom graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May 2017.

Three days later, he was working as a content producer for Channel 10/11 news.

“Producing is a loose term for content. I don’t get any sound or video,” he said. “I write the story, build the graphics, do a lot of slugging and put it all together.”

The 23-year-old produces all news coverage except for weather and sports. He not only works for 10/11 but also for Local 4 News. He is responsible for writing, organizing and managing five live newscasts per day.

Before graduating he worked with a number of different organizations to expand his skills.  He was a radio host twice a week for KRNU and KRNU2 for a podcast called “Delay of Game” that covered Husker sports. He also worked at NET, interned at 93.7 and at the Seward County Independent and worked for Star City News at the university.

Folsom also studied abroad in Bilbao, Spain, during his years at UNL.

And he received the Eric Sevaraid Award of Merit at the Midwest Journalism Conference in 2017 in the print category.

He knew he didn’t want to be a reporter after working at Star City. But he enjoyed working as  a producer, and he thought his group produced well-written newscasts when he produced.

So he wanted to capitalize on his strengths.

“No two days are the same; the news is different every day,” Folsom said. “It’s never boring.”

Folsom goes in every morning at 3:30 a.m. working for three different news stations including KNOP, KOLN and KSNB. He has a total of five shows and works eight hours a day; four preparing for shows and four in production. He works on a morning show from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m.. Although he’s based in Lincoln and writes a script for the KSNB show, he works with a team he has never met that is based in Hastings, Nebraska.

From 8 to 9 a.m. he prepares for Pure Nebraska, an agricultural feature show for KOLN and then has a morning meeting in the newsroom with more than 15 people.  Then, he does an afternoon show at 11:30 a.m. for KNOP.

“Five shows seem like a lot but you get used to the deadlines,” he said.

Folsom describes the stress of breaking news as the worst part of his job. He said he constantly worries about if it’s better to be correct or first.

“You never want to be first for the sake of being first; I won’t put it out if we don’t have to full story.

The Missouri native said he doesn’t know what the future holds, but hopes one day to return to Kansas City. Technology is growing, and Folsom wants to get into other media besides TV, as it loses audience.

As a recent graduate, Folsom had plenty of advice for students who are working toward their goals. It’s important to apply for as many internships as possible, he said.  These help you get a look into what the field has to offer.

Journalism school is way different than being in the field.

“You want your work to be perfect because your reputation is on the line every time you put something out.”

In digital advertising, you build your own business

December 11, 2017 1 comment

By Jamie Gilliam
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Never underestimate Natalie Olson-Elm.

When interviewing for her first digital advertising job at Undertone, Olson-Elm had no experience in sales or digital advertising.

Her interviewer asked, “why should I hire you?” Olson-Elm didn’t hesitate.


Natalie Olson-Elm, National Account Director at Target Digital Media

“Do not question my abilities. Do not underestimate me,” she said.

At that moment her soon-to-be boss at Undertone, a start-up company for premium advertising placements, knew he was going to hire her.

Growing up, Olson-Elm’s father did print advertising for a trucking company, but she never thought she would wind-up following in his footsteps. It wasn’t until a former co-worker, knowing her determination, told her to check out Undertone.

Straight out of college and before diving into the world of digital advertising, Olson-Elm worked at a mundane 9-5 job. She hated it.

“Once you knew something, you knew it all,” she said. “There was no space to grow.”

Olson-Elm, who graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a degree in journalism, wanted a job where she could express her creativity, branch out and meet new people. She likes to “ride the wave” that digital advertising brings.

“There’s a lot of autonomy; you can figure out a unique path for yourself it’s not cookie cutter,” she said.

From 2008 to 2015, Olson-Elm worked at different startup companies around the states before settling into her current position as national account director for Target Media Network (Target’s digital advertising agency) in Minneapolis.

A typical day at Target for Olson-Elm is a lot of collaborative work, meetings, maintaining existing campaigns, and making sure everything her team is working on is running smoothly.

A potential client will approach Olson-Elm wanting to advertise with Target. The client will then send a request for a proposal, listing all the interests of someone it wants to target in an ad. Olson-Elm then takes that information complies it into a spreadsheet and puts together a presentation explaining what Target can do the company.

Nine times out of 10 when the work comes back to her, it’s not as thorough as it needs to be.

“I have to walk the line between dominating or doing it myself.”

She has to express to her supervisors why an ad has to be positioned a certain way. The final piece has to be perfect.

“When I send it over to the client then it’s out of my hands,” she said. “The agency looks at it, and their client looks at it, and they all talk about it, and I’m up against 10 different competitors so it has to be as close to perfect as it can be before it leaves my inbox.”

Once the client comes back and gives her the go-ahead, she’s in charge of selling the media.

“It’s like real estate,” she said.

She has to figure out how best to reach the target audience. At the Grammys? As a web banner? On Facebook? Each client is different depending on who they want to reach.

Olson-Elm said you have to be passionate and driven to want to be in this line of work.

“You have to really want it; it’s not a 9-5 job, you have to build your own business… there’s a lot of payoffs but a lot of work, you have to be patient,” she said.

But she’s glad she stepped out of her comfort zone into a career she never pictured herself in.

Categories: Editor Profiles Tags: , ,

Christine Dell Amore finds adventures in editing

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Christine Dell Amore is the online natural history editor for National Geographic. (Photo Courtesy of Amore’s blog.)

By Alli Dickey
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Every day, Christine Dell Amore brings her love for adventure, the outdoors and learning to her job as the online natural history editor at National Geographic.

“The best part of my job is I get to learn every day,” she said. “It’s the most important thing anybody can do.”

No two days are the same for Amore. She goes through meetings, animal story edits and magazine work. People have high expectations for National Geographic, so she is always striving to make stories stand out.

As a child, Amore could be found writing short stories and exploring the outdoors. She started at the University of Maryland as a journalism major, but switched to environmental studies in her first semester. She went on to get a master’s in journalism and environmental reporting at the University of Colorado.

“They were two passions I had and so I combined them,” Amore said.

Amore has not let go of her sense of adventure and has traveled to 40 countries. Her favorite destination was Antarctica because she stayed in a research station away from everything and saw wild penguins. She wrote a book inspired from her travels “South Pole,” which follows Robert Scott on his expedition to Antarctica.

“It was the most unique place I’ve ever been,” Amore said. “I did a blog while I was there to try to give people a chance to live vicariously through me.”

She also freelances about her traveling adventures for the Washington Post.

As an editor, Amore still uses her creative side to write stories. She started a Weird and Wild WordPress blog in 2013 because she was interested in animal behavior and biology. Now, it’s a regular series on the National Geographic website where she discusses weird animal behavior.

“It’s been pretty successful,” Amore said. “People are interested into a window of the animal’s world.”

To many, Amore has a dream job, but she worked hard to get it. Amore said college journalism students should start a website, get business cards, start freelancing and get clips. She also stressed the importance of networking and attending any professional writing events.

“I always suggest that journalism students act like a journalist from the get go.”

UNL’s Hagewood works with the online news

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

By Xi Deng
University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Sean Hagewood, news coordinator at University of Nebraska-Lincoln

As an online editor with eight years of experience, Sean Hagewood enjoys the freedom to try new things in his job.

In his junior year in college, Hagewood got an online internship at the Lincoln Journal Star. He contributed to the entertainment blog, created podcasts, and posted stories and images to the newspaper’s website.

After he graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in 2006, Hagewood got a job as a copy editor at the St. Joseph New-Press in Missouri.

As a copy editor and a page designer, Hagewood edited the stories and wrote headlines. His favorite part of the job was editing stories. In 2010, he became an online editor at the News-Press.

Hagewood said being an online editor was his favorite job.

At the News-Press, Hagewood edited and posted online stories, photos, and graphics to the website. He drove innovation, enhancing the website. In his about four years in the role, he also helped the paper’s staff learn to use social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Hagewood said the biggest difference between working on an online newspaper and as an editor for a print newspaper is dealing with deadlines. As an online editor working with news, deadlines are constant.

Being on-call and multitasking are part of the basics of working with an online newspaper. Editors need to immediately handle unending news. That’s different from working with print, which has firm deadlines for each edition.

Now, Sean Hagewood is a news coordinator in the Office of University Communication at UNL. His job includes a variety of projects.

At UNL Today, social media, online communication and website editing fill his weeks. Hagewood also is responsible for posting and editing news releases for the UNL Today website.

Although the authors usually have a journalism background, Hagewood still edits for grammar and style errors. Some of the writers may be more used to Chicago Style and the website follows Associated Press Style.

Hagewood also manages UNL’s official Twitter account, @UNLNews. His tips for posting tweets are to choose a wide-range of topics for posts, to track readers’ attention and be clever. A strong tweet also needs a visual to catch readers’ view quickly.

For college students who want to explore a career in journalism, Hagewood suggests they should learn a lot of different skills.

“Don’t shy away. Be patient.”

Freelance editor takes skill across platforms, industry changes

December 10, 2017 1 comment

Freelance editor Iris Sutcliffe during a trail run in Olympic National Park. Freelance work allows Sutcliffe to explore her passion for the outdoors.

By Karynn Brown
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Iris Sutcliffe works alongside two dogs in a quiet home in Washington. Working from home allows Sutcliffe to explore her surroundings outdoors as well as her many interests in the editing world.

Sutcliffe has worked for a variety of publications, which has taught her to love the versatility and adaptability of online journalism.

Sutcliffe works largely as a freelance copy editor, writer, project manager and social media manager for multiple publications including Outside Online and Medium. She also works with Network for Good to help nonprofits use digital content for events and donations.

By working across so many disciplines and subject matter, Sutcliffe keeps her work fresh.

“Learn as much as you can,” she says. “Be flexible. Be nimble in the industry, and you’ll actually enjoy your career.”

Sutcliffe attributes much of her success in online media to working at Lucky magazine early in her career. As assistant managing editor at the women’s fashion-themed publication, Sutcliffe and her team were responsible for moving the publication online in the early 2000s, at a time when online content was very new.

The opportunity to break into online content and editing was what Sutcliffe called,“the best thing to happen to my career.”

The adaptability of online work drives Sutcliffe’s interest and experimentation, allowing her to move across platforms and writing styles.

“Really only about half of my job is editing,” Sutcliffe says.

While working on different projects and publications, she splits her day between project managing, writing for Network for Good, and editing for Medium as well as Outside.

No matter what she is doing, Sutcliffe knows her work is rooted in good storytelling.

“It always comes back to words and communication,” she says, “the story and the clarity are what matters.”

As a social media manager, she often asks herself  ‘what story am I trying to tell?’ She focuses on the micro-stories that start conversations.

“It’s gratifying to really nail a post and see it get shared and spark a conversation.”

A challenge in the world of social media is monitoring these conversations. Online comments can quickly turn from constructive to catastrophic, but having writers comment on their own piece can instantly shift that tone.

“Showing up to a piece… commenting, clarifying and engaging, can really make a difference,” Sutcliffe says.

This sense of two-way communication and understanding also drives her philosophy as an editor. She edits best toward each writer’s personal style, while correcting mechanical errors and providing continuity for the publication. She says much of editing’s importance lies in the invisibility of a job well done.

To make her editing invisible, Sutcliffe emphasizes getting to know writers and their styles. The writers who need the most help are those that lack mechanical mastery, which she sees especially in young writers. As an editor, Sutcliffe looks for common mechanical mistakes, but also works to recognize patterns of error, style choices that invoke individual voice, and feedback that can push writers forward.

In her work for Medium’s premium-level online content, Sutcliffe allows newer writers to run with their own style.

“We follow guidebooks, not rules. I hate the notion of a Grammar Nazi,” Sutcliffe says, “understanding the rules of style and grammar well enough to break guidelines… lets the readers connect with the rough or unexpected.”

Part of the draw of online publications is the allowance for such idiosyncratic style risks.

“People, print, postage: That stuff is expensive,” Sutcliffe says, “but online, we can publish 20 stories a day.”

The chance to play hit-or-miss stories allows writing styles to ebb and flow. While a print publication couldn’t risk losing readership over an oddly written article, the individuality that’s at the heart of online media can take new styles in stride.

Throughout her experience, Sutcliffe has traversed nearly every publication platform and loves them all.

“If everything is online, why fight it? Meet your audience where they live,” Sutcliffe says about the changing nature of online platforms. “Understanding the meaning of language and storytelling, gives the opportunity to tell stories in different ways.”

This comes into play with a photo essay from the New Yorker that used black and white photos, written words and video insights from photographers to create a powerfully moving piece about the opioid epidemic in our country.

“That’s something that just couldn’t have been done in print.”


Categories: Editor Profiles