The Editor's Desk

Thoughts on editing for print and digital media

Month: October, 2012

On the road with ACES

This blog will be quiet for the next couple of weeks. In addition to giving and grading midterm exams, I’ll be on the road as part of my duties with the American Copy Editors Society:

  • This week, I’m headed for St. Louis to the mid-year meeting of the Executive Committee of ACES. We’ll work on details for the 2013 national conference.
  • The following week, I will be in Washington, D.C., as a presenter at an ACES editing bootcamp. It’s the latest in a series of one-day workshops that ACES is sponsoring throughout the country.

The value of a Dow Jones News Fund internship

It’s Dow Jones News Fund season. Journalism students across the country are applying for this program, which offers summer internships in business reporting and copy editing. Here’s a look at three UNC-Chapel Hill journalism students who had Dow Jones internships last summer.

Name: Catherine Sum

Where she interned: The New York Times

Where she is now: Vail Daily (Vail, Colo.)

How the internship helped her career: The volume of experience I got from this internship has been invaluable. Being at the Times, in particular, taught me a lot about editing on both a micro and macro level. My coworkers on the Culture desk really cared about the stories they edited, and they were all incredibly helpful in answering any questions I had concerning Times style, writer idiosyncrasies and everything in between.

When I was applying for jobs, a number of potential employers did take notice of the fact that I was a Dow Jones intern, but for me, the best part of the program was the people I met along the way. My editors at the Times were instrumental in how much I learned this summer, and I left with nothing but positive experiences and great references.

I also still keep in touch with the interns from my training camp at Temple University — we bonded over maps, knots, AP style and myriad other topics — and it’s been fantastic hearing about where they’ve ended up after their internships.

Name: Miranda Murray

Where she interned: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Where she is now: At UNC-Chapel Hill with plans to graduate in December. Intern for Technical Information Publishing Solutions in Carrboro, a book and manual publishing and editing company.

How the internship helped her career: I am just now starting the job application process, so I’m not exactly sure yet what my Dow Jones internship will mean for me career-wise. However, I do know that my time at the Times-Dispatch improved my grammar and headline-writing skills and that I’m now more confident when I apply to jobs and internships that require strong editing skills.

Working beside copy editors day in and day out also gave me insights into how they viewed the current state of the newspaper industry, and I learned some tips and tricks of the grammar world that can’t necessarily be taught in a classroom. This internship also helped me see how a good story is written simply by reading excellent pieces on a daily basis, which I hope will also help me become a better writer.

Name: Kevin Shaffer

Where he interned: The Augusta Chronicle

Where he is now: Graduate school at Oklahoma City University — paid position at campus newspaper

How the internship helped his career: I’m on a very different career path than a lot of the copy editors that have come through the program. During my undergraduate years, I was blessed and cursed with a unique pair of passions and skills: copy editing and singing. While I am currently studying singing at graduate school, I have a paid position as the copy editor at the campus newspaper.

The Dow Jones internship was obviously fantastic for the editing side of my career. I did my training in Philadelphia — it was rigorous, but worth it. Dr. Edward Trayes was a terrific teacher; thanks to him and the guest speakers he brought in, I went off to my internship at the Chronicle as ready as I could have been.

That said, the best way to learn copy editing is to work at a copy desk. I was doing live-fire work my first day at the Chronicle. I worked with live copy, trimmed wire stories and wrote headlines above the fold on the front page, while some of my fellow interns who got sent off to The New York Times made excited Facebook posts whenever they were allowed to touch a cutline on the front page.

My fellow editors (one of whom was a former DJNF intern herself) were always willing to help me out, and my direct supervisor regularly took time to sit down with me and go over what I could improve. These connections will stay with me for a long time, and connections are solid gold in the journalism business.

And then there were my fellow interns, who are as good of contacts to have as anyone else I met during my internship. We’re essentially a very small, specialized job network now that our internships are over. We let each other know about job opportunities regularly.

During my last day at the Chronicle, one of my supervisors pulled me into his office and asked me for the names of other Dow Jones interns who might be interested in a job there. Of the nine interns in my Philadelphia group, most of us are working full-time at a newspaper, and the rest of us are either freelancing or, well, me.

The Dow Jones internship may only be a few lines on your resume, but it opens doors.

A farewell to The Carrboro Citizen

I was dismayed this week to read that The Carrboro Citizen is ceasing publication. The weekly newspaper (along with its website) has served the town adjacent to Chapel Hill since 2007.

The Citizen’s problems are familiar to print media in a digital age. Although it had a loyal readership, the paper apparently found advertising dollars hard to come by. As a free publication, it didn’t make any money through circulation.

The Citizen was a friend of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill. It occasionally published stories written by our students. In fact, the idea for the Citizen emerged during a conversation in JOMC 459, Community Journalism. The paper was the embodiment of the “relentlessly local” philosophy of that course.

Thanks to publisher Robert Dickson for pouring his energy into the paper for the past five years. It’s been a good run, and the Citizen will be missed.

Thank you for a record-breaking month

This blog saw its heaviest traffic ever in September, with 6,445 visits. The previous high was in April 2012, with 5,425 visits. In September 2011, the blog had 4,449 visits.

September has been a busy month for several years as people find this post on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This year, Clint Eastwood and Abe Simpson were very popular as well.

On occasion, I see articles like this one that say that blogging is moribund. This blog isn’t, and I thank you, the reader, for that. As long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

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