Q&A with Bill Krueger, NCSU alumni magazine editor

by andybechtel

Bill Krueger is senior associate editor at N.C. State magazine.  Before taking that job in early 2011, he spent nearly 25 years at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., working as a reporter and editor focusing on state government. In this interview, conducted by email, Krueger talks about his current job and the transition from newspaper journalism to academia.

Q. You’re a top-level editor at the alumni magazine at N.C. State University. What is your typical day like?

A. One of the things I love about my job is that there is no typical day. One day I may be interviewing the university provost, the next day hanging out with the university’s new soccer coach and the next day talking to an alum about some cool work they are doing.

I spend some of my time writing, some of it editing and some of it keeping our blog and social media outlets humming. I love being part of the creative process of working with other editors and our design director to come up with a set of stories and visuals that will make for a magazine that our readers find engaging and relevant.

And my workplace is a college campus — how cool is that?

Q. How does editing and headline writing work at the magazine?

A. We don’t have copy editors, as such, so all of the editors here do a combination of reporting, editing and headline writing.

We rely on freelancers for some of our writing and photography and contract with a couple of editors (including a former copy editor from my former newspaper) for some freelance editing and proofing. Those extra sets of eyes are invaluable.

Q. You have an extensive background in newspaper journalism. What skills did you take with you to your current job, and what did you have to learn?

A. I was a reporter and assignment editor at various times during my many, many years at The News & Observer (and, briefly, The Kansas City Star). Virtually all of the skills I honed during my newspaper years — reporting, writing, editing and working with designers, photographers and graphic artists —have served me well in my role at the alumni magazine.

The primary learning curve has been in figuring out how to operate effectively in an academic environment — learning who’s connected to who (whom? see, I need a copy editor), absorbing the culture of the university, understanding the opportunities and challenges in trying to communicate effectively in such a large and (often) disconnected environment.

Q. What advice do you have for newspaper journalists who are looking to make a transition like yours?

A. Know that most of the skills you have developed in your years at a newspaper will translate to communications jobs in other settings. In fact, your new employers are likely to be dazzled by the pace at which you work, your ability to juggle multiple responsibilities and your commitment to accuracy, clarity and fairness.

But potential employers may not realize that when they are deciding whether to bring you in for an interview. Instead, they may see you as the proverbial dinasour who works for a struggling industry, someone they would have to retrain to work the way they want you to work.

The onus is on you to help them understand how your skills will translate to what they are trying to accomplish. Don’t send them a resume that lists all your job titles — they mean nothing to many potential employers.

Instead, tell them what your skills are, what you have accomplished and how that will help them achieve their goals. If they’re looking for someone to help them with social media, who better to write effective Tweets than a copy editor who writes great headlines?

You have to make that connection clear to potential employers, in your resume, your cover letter and in any job interviews.

Q. You write and edit for a readership of NCSU alumni, but you are University of Georgia graduate. If the two schools meet in football or basketball, who would you pull for, Dawgs or Pack?

A. I’m tempted to say the team in red. But in football, it would definitely be the Dawgs. As for basketball, I’m not sure they play that at Georgia.

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