Q&A with Lindsay Naylor, editor at Law360

by andybechtel

Lindsay Naylor is an editor at Law360, a website that focuses on legal news affecting the corporate world. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Naylor previously worked as a copy editor and page designer at the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. In this interview, conducted by email, Naylor talks about her job duties and her transition from print to online media.

Q. Describe your job. What is your typical workday like?

A. I’m one of eight editors on the copy desk. We edit the stories that go up on the company’s website and, most important, into the newsletters that are sent out each morning to the subscribing law firms.

I start work at 1 p.m. Sometimes there are a few emails asking the reporter and me to clarify something in the story we worked on. If the reporter hasn’t addressed it yet, I’ll go in and do it.

After that, I just start grabbing any story that is available in our editing queue. I read through the story first and then spend the bulk of my time on the headline, lede and tags. If I have a question, I’ll send a chat message to the reporter and work with him or her on it.

Sometime in the early evening, I take a dinner break. At 7, my boss counts out how many stories we each have left. By the end of the day, we each do about 15 to 18. Around 8, I look over the four newsletters I’ve been assigned to make sure there are no errors in the headlines and ledes and that the stories are in the correct newsletter. If I get done early, I’ll ask if I can help anyone else with their newsletters, and then I leave by 9.

Q. You’ve moved from a newspaper to a website. What has that transition been like?

A. It’s been mostly good. My job is less stressful now. There are deadlines, but nothing like at a newspaper. No one wants to make mistakes, but it’s nice to know that you can go back in and make changes.

My headline writing has improved a lot because it’s so important on the Web. Also, having to think about what to tag a story as and whether it’s obvious to readers why the story is tagged is a totally new way of thinking for me. Finally, it’s nice to have more job security. Morale is a lot better here because no one is worried about being laid off, we have better benefits, and they feed us lunch on Fridays.

On the other hand, it was exciting to be at a newspaper, especially during big news days. The atmosphere was louder and more interesting, and it was a tight-knit group. Because it was a small paper, I got to make a lot more decisions and had more of a leadership role. I liked the challenge of multitasking and having a lot of different things to do, and it was fun to design pages, which I don’t do now.

Q. You were an intern with the Dow Jones News Fund in 2008. How has that experience affected your career?

A. I stayed at my Dow Jones internship paper in North Dakota for three years. It put me in a place I wouldn’t have likely chosen to go to, but it was somewhere that taught me a lot. I also worked with the Dow Jones interns who came after me, which I enjoyed and gave me the opportunity to teach the things I’d learned.

When I’ve applied for jobs, a lot of employers have said they were impressed to see the Dow Jones internship on my resume. I’ve also kept in touch with some of the interns whom I attended training with. That’s actually how I decided to apply for my current position. One of my Dow Jones friends worked here not too long ago, so I knew some things about the job and was able to ask her questions about it.

Q. What advice do you have to journalism students who want to work at websites like yours?

A. Know AP style. I had to take an editing test before I could even get an interview, so without a good test score, you may not get very far. It was the same for other websites I’ve applied at.

As I mentioned before, headlines are important for the Web, so those skills need to be really solid. Newspapers are good ways to get the experience, even if you don’t want to be at one forever.

I wasn’t required to know anything about the law when I started, but they did ask about my experience editing for the business section, and several co-workers have been business reporters. So, if want to edit a certain type of content, it helps to show that you have an interest in it or have worked with it before.

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