For Rob Schlotterbeck, a sense of humor helps with deadlines

May 3, 2018 1 comment

By Ian Ondracek
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Rob Schlotterbeck Mug

Rob Schlotterbeck is a copy editor at the Lincoln Journal Star

They say that laughter is the best medicine.

For Rob Schlotterbeck, copy editor at the Lincoln Journal Star, laughter cures the stress of always being on deadline.

Having been a copy editor for 30 years, Schlotterbeck has seen newsrooms shrink in recent years, meaning that editors like Schlotterbeck must edit more stories in the same amount of time. To deal with deadline stress, Schlotterbeck says that he and the other editors crack jokes or take walks to get coffee.

Schlotterbeck’s interest in journalism peaked when he was in high school, and he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1986 before finding a job as a reporter at the St. Joseph News-Press. He worked at the newspaper for three years, starting as a reporter before transitioning to an editor.

He then worked as an editor for The Examiner in Independence, Missouri, before coming to work at the Lincoln Journal Star in 1997.

In his 21 years at the Lincoln Journal Star, he has worked as a copy editor and more recently as a sports copy editor. The advent of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has added another level to editing, and the increased demand for immediacy has increased the likelihood of mistakes.

However, sports stories, he said, have less room for error since they depend on cut-and- dried facts such as statistics.

On a typical day, he begins by checking stories already published for mistakes. He then begins working on stories that have been submitted by reporters. This is the part of the job that gives Schlotterbeck the most fulfillment.

He says that the most rewarding part of his job is taking a writer’s story, seeing what the writer wanted to do with the story and helping get the story to that goal. However, he advises editors to be respectful when editing a reporter’s work. He says that reporters take their work very personally and that editors need to make sure that reporters know that the editor is critiquing the work, not the reporter.

Despite being an editor, Schlotterbeck still has a chance to do some writing, including writing stories based on press releases and box scores from different sporting events.

He says that the best thing students can do to prepare for a career in editing is “read, read, read.”

Reading a variety of books exposes you to many different kinds of writing, many of which you can incorporate into your own writing, he says. That makes you a better writer and thus a better editor.


High school teacher pursues her passion by helping students

May 3, 2018 1 comment

By Hallie Miller
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Julie Eckman knew she always wanted to be a teacher. 

“It wasn’t until upper high school when I figured out what I wanted to teach,” she said.

Helping students felt like her calling.

“It’s almost like a mission in some ways that is very much apart of my faith,” Eckman said.

Her education began at Syracuse High School, where she joined the yearbook staff and learned her first editing skills. She pursued her calling at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, graduating with a degree in secondary education with dual endorsements in English and journalism.

Eckman’s career began at Cozad where she taught for five years. Then she moved to Milford to teach at Milford Jr./Sr. High School. She teaches two classes of English and a class where students learn to produce the school’s yearbook. She has been at Milford for  23 years.

Working as the editor on the yearbook and newspaper staff in college is really where she learned a lot of her editing skills. She also was a part of the alumni association, which helped with her communication skills when contacting alumni.

Editing even plays a role in her current job. Whether it’s putting together the yearbook or looking over rough drafts, she always gets the chance to sharpen her skills.

A typical day of work includes updating grades, teaching students in various courses, editing papers and so much more. She even works one-on-one with students to make sure they fully understand the material.

“My day can change minute-by-minute,” Eckman said.

Her favorite part of the job is seeing students achieve their goals and gain confidence. Her passion for her job shows the students just how dedicated she is to them.

“I believe that all of us have the duty to help young people and I have made that my career.”

 She’s proud of the way the English department prepares students for their futures. 

“When the students go to college we hear back that their writing skills are satisfactory, probably better than most of their peers,” she said.

Eckman always encourages her students to get out of their comfort zones.

“If you see something you think you could do, apply for it,” she said. “You definitely won’t get it if you don’t try.

So just go for it.”

Categories: finals, Uncategorized Tags: ,

Telling children’s stories is more than a job for hospital videographer

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 4.06.41 PM

Mitch Mattern, videographer and video editor for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska

By Kenneth L. Ferriera
University of Lincoln-Nebraska

For Mitch Mattern, no job is as tough or as rewarding as working with children.

As videographer and video editor at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Mattern tells children’s stories.

“When I got the position at Children’s, I knew I would love coming to work each day,” Mattern said.

He got his start at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, where he studied broadcasting hoping that one day to be a sports journalist. But the diversity of the journalism college exposed Mattern to other aspects of broadcasting.

“I really started to develop an affinity for videography and visual storytelling,” Mattern said in an email interview.

After graduating from college in 2012, Mattern worked in TV for a few years honing his skills.  The strain of covering news got to him. Seeing so many crime scenes, accidents, severe weather and more had grown tiresome.

So Mattern took the skills he learned in TV and started doing video work for Bellevue University.

His next move was becoming a videographer at the hospital, where he enjoys projects that help patients.

On average, Mattern juggles five to 10 projects at any given time. If he gets stuck, he’ll switch to something different.

It’s a fast-paced job that requires time management.

For bigger projects, Mattern can plan how he wants to portray the subject. But most days, he must quickly edit a video for upload by the end of the day.

“To me, video editing is like a puzzle with different solutions,” he said. “I enjoy that aspect of it.”

Whenever Mattern gets to showcase what makes his organization different is when he really enjoys what he does.

One of his more popular projects involves a service dog named Sven. It is easiest to show people the effect Sven, a dog who assists young children in tough times, had on the community through video.

His style, he said, is inspired by journalist the likes of Boyd Huppert and Steve Hartman.

Huppert and Hartman are not directly involved in the filming process; they spend most of the post-production time in the editing room. They aim to create a meaningful story that the viewer can easily sympathize with.

“They make the viewer feel something,” Mattern said. “It’s what makes the stories so unique and tug at the heartstrings.”

Mattern has always strived to connect with his viewers. One way he does this is to work closely with healthcare professionals. Sometimes, he films live streams with them, allowing interaction on a larger scale.  Viewers can send in questions or comments and the medical professionals answer.

Another challenge Mattern faces is that his work often deals with depressing stories.

“Reporters have to try and focus on the positives,” he said, “not every day is going to be a good day.”

Journalist juggles challenges with freelancers, online publication

By Leanne Gamet                                                                                                               University of Nebraska-Lincoln

When Rona Johnson grew up on a farm, she never dreamed she’d spend her life writing about agriculture.


Rona Johnson, editor for The Fence Post. (courtesy of The Fence Post)

Graduating from the University of North Dakota, Johnson earned a degree in political science, which then led to her first job at the magazine Ag Weekly. Working first as a reporter, then as an editor for the publication, her career really took off.

Though Johnson didn’t always see herself reporting or editing, after getting her first taste of journalism, she never turned back.

“I am snoopy, I like to know things,” Johnson said. “It’s fun to work for a paper because you always know the backstory on things. While the readers get one point of view, you kind of get the rest of the story.”

Following her job at Ag Weekly, Johnson wore several hats at organizations such as the Grand Forks Herald, Alaska Journal of Commerce and her current publication, The Fence Post, based out of Greeley, Colorado.

As both a reporter and an editor, Johnson has faced many different situations working for each publication. Now at The Fence Post, dealing with freelancers and the demands of online publication are her biggest challenges.

“When I first started, we had a full newsroom and everyone had a beat whether it was the city council or agriculture, the wheat industry or whatever,” Johnson said. “And today I have a part-time writer, a part-time clerk and rely heavily on freelancers, which we never did before.”

Johnson also works without a staff photographer.

“That was a luxury that is long gone,” Johnson said. “We pretty much have to rely on people to get us photos from their sources.”

Johnson and The Fence Post are also facing something that almost every other publication is facing – audiences are moving away from print to online.

“I also post everything on the website, put it on social media,” Johnson said. “We try to get as many people to follow us as possible which of course we never did before, because there was no Facebook or website.”

Getting information on the web or social media aren’t the only things that Johnson deals with.

“The internet makes things very tough,” she said. “People don’t understand the difference between something that is on the internet and something that is in the newspaper. They kind of just believe everything they read.”

Despite some of the negatives, the online aspect of journalism has perks too.

People are reading The Fence Post in foreign countries. That is something that would have been harder to accomplish with a print publication.

Even with the hoops that Johnson has to jump through as an editor, her true passion and love comes through when talking about the future of journalism.

“Even though it seems like the paper is essentially going to disappear, I think being a journalist is so important,” Johnson said. “And I hope that people realize that without journalists, they’re not going to get the real story.”

Johnson seems confident that despite the challenges, journalism will grow.

“You have to be a multi-tasker,” Johnson said.  “You have to know how to use your social media and things like WordPress or something to get stories online. You have to know how to write well and how to take pictures and video.”

You have something to offer to these companies who expect you to do everything. You have to learn how to as much as you can.”

Gretna High School instructor dreams of expanding journalism program

By Cassandra Kostal                                                                                                        University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Ms. B

Gretchen Baijnauth, journalism instructor at Gretna High School

With a strong love for both journalism and teaching, Gretchen Baijnauth thought she would have to choose between them. Instead, she put them together.

Baijnauth is the journalism instructor for students at Gretna High School in Gretna, Nebraska. She spends her days instilling her love of journalism in her students while advising them on their writing, photography and page designs for the yearbook and student newspaper, The Voice.

Growing up in Emporia, Kansas, Baijnauth developed a love of writing from both of her grandmothers, who were also writers. She became involved in journalism when she joined the yearbook staff in high school. Even though she doesn’t remember making the conscious decision to choose journalism, Baijnauth knew that it was what she wanted to do.

“I always did some type of writing and I was always around writers,” Baijnauth said. “There was never a great epiphany of ‘I will be a journalist!’.”

After high school, Baijnauth attended Emporia State University in her hometown where she became involved in the school’s yearbook and newspaper. Because journalism wasn’t offered as a major at Emporia State, Baijnauth majored in English with journalism as a minor.

Baijnauth’s original career goal was to work in advertising. However, she stayed with English and journalism and eventually added secondary education as an additional major.

“I added education because I knew teachers got paid more than journalists,” Baijnauth said.

After graduating from Emporia State, Baijnauth worked as a substitute teacher, an office administrator in a doctor’s office and the director of a nonprofit before moving to Omaha to work at a printing company.

Baijnauth’s first full-time teaching position began in the fall of 1998 when she moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to become a high school journalism teacher.

“I actually applied for a middle school English position,” Baijnauth said. “The high school principal needed a journalism adviser, saw my resume and took me away from the middle school.”

Baijnauth remained in Council Bluffs until 2010 when she landed her job in Gretna. A former colleague had heard about the position at the high school and knew they were looking for someone with experience to run the program. Baijnauth thought it was exactly what she was looking for.

Wanting to be closer to her family in Kansas, Baijnauth took the job in Gretna. She is now the adviser for the yearbook and newspaper staffs and also teaches an introduction to journalism class and a sophomore-level English class.

In charge of running two different student publications, Baijnauth described her typical day as “mass chaos.”

“There are kids waiting for me when I get here,” Baijnauth said. “My room never does not have students in it. I am constantly reading student writing, looking at student designs, talking about photos. And then when I leave I have to kick kids out.”

Despite the chaos, Baijnauth said she enjoys every milestone that she gets to celebrate with her students. She loves when the newspapers and yearbook get delivered and when her students want to show her the best photo they have ever taken.

“I think the most rewarding thing is ownership,” Baijnauth said. “The ownership my students have in their publications because I’ve given them the foundation and they understand the laws and they understand the writing styles for the most part. It’s the ownership they have and the pride they have.”

As the newspaper and yearbook programs thrive at Gretna High School, Baijnauth hopes to expand even further and get her students involved in more broadcast news. With the building of a new high school in Gretna on the horizon, she also hopes that the new school will mean new opportunities.

“I have a dream of going to the new high school and starting a journalism program from the ground up,” Baijnauth said. “Name the publications and go from there.”

In the meantime, Baijnauth coaches her students on how to become better journalists. After years of experience, she had several pieces of advice for any student pursuing a career in journalism.

“Take all the internships you can,” Baijnauth said. “Write, build a portfolio so you’re ready to go and don’t be afraid to write about things that are uncomfortable.”

No internships? No problem for copy editor Adam Ziegler


Adam Ziegler, sports copy editor for the Omaha World-Herald

By Christian Horn
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Journalism students are told that internships are important in finding a job after graduation.

But, as Adam Ziegler can attest, it’s sometimes possible to land a job without any internships.

Ziegler is a sports copy editor for the Omaha World-Herald. He credits a mutual connection for helping him land a job with the World-Herald.

“I had a friend who was working part-time at the World-Herald, helping to copy edit in the sports section,” Ziegler said. “He recommended me when they were looking to hire some other part-time copy editors, so I took that job. That was the first time I had really been a copy editor. I found that I really liked doing it, so I stuck with it.”

Despite his lack of internships, Ziegler came to the World-Herald with experience. He worked at The Daily Nebraskan for all four years of college.

Ziegler, who is in his eighth year with the Omaha World-Herald, said his childhood interests guided his choice to pursue journalism.

“I’ve always been interested in writing,” Ziegler said. “That’s kind of what got me interested in looking at journalism as a potential career.”

Ziegler says the first thing he does once his shift begins is look at the budget to see what stories are due that night, especially on the nights he’s in charge of putting the sports section together for the next day’s paper.

“I’ll look at the layout of pages we have for the day and sit and figure out what stories go where,” Ziegler said. “I go about designing the pages, laying out where all the stories are going to go. Once that’s done, I just wait for stories to come in and read and edit them as they come in and write headlines and cutlines and things like that.”

Ziegler says attention to detail is vital for any aspiring copy editor.

“Check facts, make sure there aren’t any errors in the story and that all the style matches up,” he said. “You have to have a good eye for noticing things, to be able to find any mistakes and fix those.”

Ziegler said that copy editors, particularly sports copy editors, must be able to work quickly and accurately because they have to deal with short deadlines since many games start at night.   

“We only have a set amount of time to do a lot of work and with the detail-oriented stuff we do,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t always have the time you’d like to be able to look at everything with the attention that you want to. Being able to do everything in a compressed amount of time can make it difficult sometimes.”

Ziegler’s biggest piece of advice for anyone pursuing a journalism career is to love what you’re doing.

“Make sure that you’re really passionate about it because it can be kind of a tough industry to get into,” he said. “The schedule’s not always a typical schedule, so I think to really do well, you have to have a passion for this kind of work. It has to be something that you really care about and want to dedicate yourself to.”

Categories: finals Tags: , ,

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.”