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Christine Dell Amore finds adventures in editing

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment
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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.”

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Pitchfork’s Mike Powell on the unique nature of music journalism

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

By Ryan Taylor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Mike Powell was just kind of a geek.

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Mike Powell, contributing editor at Pitchfork Media

“I’ve been a music nerd all my life,” he said. “And as it turns out, I have a knack for writing. To be honest, ending up here was kind of an accident.”

Indeed, Powell’s initial jobs were quite different than his current one.

After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2004, he worked as a real estate writer for a few years, never anticipating that he would eventually find himself working in the music-writing industry as a contributing editor for Pitchfork Media.

Journalism is constantly evolving. Traditionally, reporters reported and editors edited.

But it isn’t that simple anymore.

As society evolves technologically and culturally, the once-distinct lines defining the roles of journalists are blurred, welding together abilities and responsibilities from different platforms and perspectives.

No industry, Powell said, has felt the impact of this revolution quite like the music-writing industry, particularly when it comes to writing reviews for new music.

“Music writing is funny,” he said, “because the pretense around objectivity is nebulous when it comes to criticism.”

In a phone interview, Powell was asked how he remains unbiased when composing and editing music reviews.

His response: “I don’t.”

Powell said that while a preferential bias is unavoidable when it comes to writing reviews, music still contains certain components that the writer can identify and address objectively.

“I like to isolate the things that you see in every story or review,” he said. “I can objectively craft the story to describe style, and I can provide facts, but other than that I am totally biased. That’s how Pitchfork works.”

This absence of objectivity makes editing for music writing different from other types of journalism, Powell said, because it eliminates the need for an editor to determine whether the content is fair, since “fair” has no real value in criticism.

Powell said the now-online nature of music reporting is relatively unprecedented in the industry, and this means new journalistic responsibilities.

“Working for Pitchfork is funny because ‘contributing editor’ doesn’t necessarily mean you edit in the traditional sense. Editors know what they perceive the strengths of their writers to be, and what the reporters are permitted to cover is limited to those strengths,” he said.

Powell said that editing is an entirely different skill than writing. He said editors have to figure out how to shape reporters’ work to an audience without losing the main ideas and themes that the writers want to convey.

 Pitchfork Media is renowned for its work in music and in journalism.

It’s this mix, Powell said, that made Pitchfork such an attractive option for him.

After two years working in real estate writing, Powell landed a job as a fact-checker for the New York Times — a job he admits he got “through the side door.”

“I had a friend who was an editor for the Times,” he said, “and I was living in New York. He mentioned they needed people to fact-check, and I stepped up.”

It was this friend, Powell remembers, who told Powell he belonged writing for music.

Beginning in 2005, he did exactly that when a spot opened up at Stylus Magazine, an online music and film magazine specializing in music reviews. After two years with Stylus, Powell joined Pitchfork.

Besides editing, Powell writes album reviews periodically.

Powell said he wants his work at Pitchfork to have more of an impact on readers than traditional news publications.

“If I can get somebody to listen or pay attention to an artist that I like,” he said, “then I feel like I’m doing my job.”

Categories: Editor Profiles Tags: , ,

Graphic designer Kristen Hoffman designs her own dream job

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

By Taylor Christian
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Kristen Hoffman, founder of The Hoffman Collection. Photo credit to Kimberly Dovi Photography

Even as a child, Kristen Hoffman was passionate about art.

“I was always drawing and doodling since a young age,” she said.  “It’s just something that came naturally to me and something I thought was fun and engaging.”

Later, she turned her passion into a full-time job as art director at Omaha magazine. Now she works for herself as a freelance designer.

In college, she initially decided to try something more practical studying pre-med before she realized that wasn’t what she wanted.

“I began to think, why am I betraying my passion, something I love and know I’m good at, and that’s art,” Hoffman said.

Eventually she switched majors to design and communication, a decision she considered one of her best. After college, she landed her first job at a package design company in Texas. She really loved the design aspect of the “real world.”

A few years later, she moved back to Nebraska and in 2014, she stumbled across Omaha magazine and began working there as the art director.

“I loved my job at the Omaha magazine,” she said.  “It allowed me to be creative and do all the things I enjoyed. As the art director, my job was basically to design and layout the magazine, I really enjoyed the freedom and the atmosphere I worked in.”

But with a newly started family, Hoffman decided it was time to find a job that allowed her a little more freedom and family time.  She wanted a job that would allow her to be creative and challenge her while building her resume.

She landed a job as a graphic designer at Gallup.

“Gallup was a different work atmosphere than I was accustomed to at Omaha magazine,” she said. “It was a little more straightforward, I still used my skills and creativity but I was working on more ‘assigned’ projects.”

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Kristen Hoffman, former graphic designer at Gallup  (Photo courtesy of Kristen Hoffman.)

At Gallup, her job as the graphic designer was to create event posters and media projects. She learned new skills that helped when she decided to start her own business.

After becoming pregnant with her second child, she decided it was time to take a step back in her career.

At home she picked up her lost hobby of doodling and began making sketches of her family and daughter. As a stay-at-home mom, she started selling drawings of families and began taking custom orders, which eventually turned into a new business.

“What started out as just me entertaining myself turned into something a lot of people want and are interested in,” she said. “I never thought I would be the one to start my own business but they are really taking off.”

All of her jobs have given her new skills that led to where she is now.

“I really loved my previous jobs; however, I never would have imagined actually designing my own dream job.”

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One of Hoffman’s pieces from The Hoffman Collection.

 

Denver Post editor enjoys making a difference through journalism

December 16, 2013 1 comment

By Whitney Carlson
University of Nebraska- Lincoln

Lee Ann Colacioppo can remember the story developing at The Denver Post.

The paper had teamed up with 9News to do an investigative report on the social welfare system. Apparently, neglect from caseworkers was leading to children’s deaths.

Denver Post Senior Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo

Denver Post Senior Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo

Since 2007, 175 children in Colorado’s social services had died of abuse and neglect.

According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, about 40 percent of these deaths could have been prevented. Caseworkers failed to conduct interviews and follow-up assessments, even when neighbors called in warnings and presented evidence of abuse.

When the story broke, people were outraged. Attention was focused on the social welfare system and on finding a solution to the problem.

At the time, Colacioppo was the senior news editor at The Post. Stories like this, she said, reinforce her love for journalism.

“There aren’t many other jobs where you can look at things that are clearly wrong and put a spotlight on them,” Colacioppo said. “You can see change happen.”

After the news investigations, laws were changed, funds were added to social services, training was revamped and a hotline was created.

“Changes in policy happen because they can’t turn away from it when we do a story on it,” she said.

Journalism can bring people together.

At the beginning of her career, Colacioppo worked in numerous newspapers around the United States before she settled back in Denver, her hometown. She spent a few years reporting and editing in Des Moines, Iowa, Kingsport, Tenn., and Greenville, S.C.

She was promoted to city editor in South Carolina and hasn’t been back to reporting since. She moved back to Des Moines as the assistant city editor and moved back to Denver in 1999 as assistant city editor of The Post.

Colacioppo has held different editing posts since her return to Denver, including city editor, enterprise team editor, investigations team editor and senior news editor, her current position.

Journalism has changed dramatically during her career, especially with the Internet’s popularity.

“I remember when fax machines were new,” she said.

The debut of the Internet was interesting, Colacioppo said. “We watched it come in, not knowing what to think.”

From there, Colacioppo said, she and her colleagues had to come to grips with how to use the Internet to better their business.

Colacioppo loves the ever-changing atmosphere and unpredictability of journalism.

“It’s different every day,” she said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

She remembers going to work at 3 a.m. to deal with the 2013 Colorado flooding. Every reporter at the paper was working on the story, and she decided where to send them and what stories to tell.

For Colacioppo, it was more than just a great professional challenge. It was a chance to inform the public of necessary information.

And that’s her favorite part of journalism: Making a difference in the world.

To foster that positive change, she advised journalism students to follow their passions, stay flexible and most importantly, keep digging for stories.

“Stay curious,” she said. “That’s the most important quality for a reporter to have.”

UNL graduate begins a promising editing career in Omaha

December 15, 2013 Leave a comment

By: Michael Stanek
University of Nebraska- Lincoln 

Sarah McCallister didn’t realize when she walked into her high school journalism class on the first day of school it was the beginning of a career path.

REBECCA S. GRATZ/THE WORLD-HERALD

Sarah McCallister, copy editor at The Omaha World-Herald (photo courtesy of Rebecca S. Gratz)

Fast forward a few years and McCallister would find herself in the jouranlism college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  It was there she decided to enroll in basic editing and joined the Daily Nebraskan newspaper.

“At first I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I had an older sister that was in broadcasting so that led me to the J-school.  I enrolled in basic editing as a sophomore.  Then I found that writing came easy to me,” she said.

McCallister stayed active at her newspaper and in the journalism school.  She graduated in 2011 and was hired as a copy editor for the Omaha World-Herald.

McCallister works five to six days a week 4 p.m to 1 a.m.

In charge of the Midlands section, McCallister deals with all local stories.  The section front holds four to five different stories on average, all varying in content and style.  She proofreads material for errors in grammar and format.  She also works with a team of editors in page layout and design.

“I pretty much work with everybody in the newsroom,” she said.  “Our jobs are usually determined by what needs to be done.  I help edit the cover page two days a week and I edit the website once a week.  I also write headlines for the stories I’m editing if they don’t already have one.”

With all of the editing responsibility, there is a lot of pressure on McCallister to make sure everything is perfect.

“One of the hardest parts about being a copy editor in the newsroom is that you’re invisible until you make a mistake,” she said.

There is a constant pressure that makes McCallister’s job one of the most difficult in the newsroom.  However, that pressure is also the thing that pushes her to do the best work possible every time.

The path for a young copy editor is a long one.  McCallister hopes to work her way up at the World-Herald, and perhaps to larger news organizations.

The work is hard and time-consumin,g but it’s what she loves and where she is beginning a promising career as an editor.