Q&A with Shana McNally, proofreader at Costco

Shana McNally is corporate proofreader at Costco Wholesale, a job she has held since 2008. Her duties include proofing marketing communications, packaging and the employee magazine. She also develops and maintains style guides. She previously worked at The Associated Press and at SportsZone, the precursor to ESPN.com. In this interview, conducted by email, McNally talks about her job at Costco and editing in the corporate world.

Q. Describe your job at Costco. What is your typical day like?

A. It’s hard to describe a typical day other than to say we always start with a morning production meeting. Most days, I see more than 15 proofs for marketing (coupon books, opening pieces, Costco Travel catalogs, etc.), a couple of packaging proofs and a few FOPs (items ready to go out the door that need one more look). I tend to do the faster stuff in the morning and save the bigger projects for the afternoon.

One of my favorite parts of this profession is that you can always learn more. If I have any free time, I try to spend it on education, whether it be taking quizzes or reading grammar books or copyediting books.

Q. What are some of the common glitches that come up in Costco copy?

A. The most common glitches that come up in copy are the day and date not matching, spelling errors, missing words, legal edits and repeated words.

Q. You are a member of the American Copy Editors Society and have attended its conferences the past several years. What do you like about ACES?

A. There’s so much to be gained from ACES. I love the fact that I always have someone to reach out to if I have a question.

I’ve also gained so many tips and tricks, as well as resources like books to read and quizzes to take. In addition, I’ve been able to participate in several job shadows with fellow ACES members.

Finally, when I attend conferences, I really appreciate the reassurance that the way I do things is just fine.

Q. What advice do you have for editors looking for work at a company like Costco?

A. My strongest advice for editors looking to work at a company like Costco is to check it out in advance, whether it’s with an informational interview, a job shadow or an internship. Coming from a newspaper background, I’d say that it’s very different, and it’s not for everyone. The variety is a huge advantage, but to many, working at a corporation is a disadvantage.

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How I am spending spring break

UNC-Chapel Hill is on spring break this week. It’s a needed respite for students and faculty alike.

Although I am not teaching any classes this week, I have plenty to keep me busy. Here’s how I am spending my spring break:

  • grading midterm exams and other assignments
  • preparing presentations and assignments for class for next week
  • reviewing applications for an online master’s program in communication and technology
  • submitting reviews for the Tankard Book Award
  • preparing for sessions at the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society

Spring break isn’t all work, though. Last weekend, I spent a long weekend with friends at a lake house. This weekend, my son and I will attend NCAA Tournament games in Raleigh. In between, I had lunch with a longtime friend whom I don’t get to see often enough because of geography and work schedules.

I’ll be back in class first thing Monday morning. When colleagues and students ask whether I had a good break, I am certain that the answer will be yes.

How you can help editors write better headlines

The national conference of the American Copy Editors Society is only a few weeks away. This year’s gathering is in Portland, Oregon, from March 31 to April 2.

I am organizing and moderating a discussion on headline writing. For this session, we are inviting everyday people to give spontaneous feedback on a set of headlines and tweets. There will be no right or wrong answers. We’re just curious what real readers think of real headlines.

It’s a reprise of a session at the 2014 ACES conference in Las Vegas. Alex Cruden, a former editor at the Detroit Free Press and winner of the ACES Glamann Award, came up with the concept years ago. He hoped a dialog between editors and readers might result in better headlines.

If you know someone in Portland who would like to serve on this reader panel, please contact me. I am also taking requests for headlines to include in the session, which will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 1.

For more about the ACES conference and a full list of sessions and events, check out the official site. I’d love to see you there.

Let’s get digital at #ACES2016

portland

The national conference of the American Copy Editors Society will take place March 31-April 2 in Portland, Oregon. This is the 20th ACES conference. Congratulations and happy anniversary!

This year’s conference will have something new: a day devoted to digital editing. This “bootcamp” on March 30 will cover these topics:

  • writing and editing for digital media
  • using alternative story forms
  • writing headlines for search engine optimization and social media
  • understanding data analytics
  • curating and creating an email newsletter

I’m one of the instructors along with ACES President Teresa Schmedding and Sue Burzynski Bullard of the University of Nebraska. This is a hands-on session, so you need to bring a laptop.

You can learn more about the bootcamp and sign up for it at the ACES site. Separate registration is required. We’d love to see you in Portland.

If you’re going to San Francisco

Journalism educators from around the world will meet in San Francisco from Aug. 6-9, 2015. (Creative Commons photo)

Journalism educators from around the world will meet in San Francisco from Aug. 6-9, 2015. (Creative Commons photo)

I’ll be on the road next week for the annual AEJMC conference, which takes place in San Francisco this year. Here are the main items on my agenda:

  • On Wednesday, I’ll be one of four presenters at an “editing bootcamp” sponsored by the American Copy Editors. It’s the fourth time I’ve participated in this workshop, and it’s always fun.
  • On Friday, I’ll play host to the Breakfast of Editing Champions, a gathering of instructors who teach editing and writing. We’ll talk about trends in journalism education and exchange teaching ideas.

I’ll also attend various panels and presentations, and perhaps do some sightseeing. But I probably won’t wear any flowers in my hair.

UPDATE: Both events went well. About 35 editors, mostly from public relations, attended the ACES bootcamp. And my final Breakfast of Editing Champions was fun and informative. Kirstie Hettinga, who teaches at Cal Lutheran, will take over as the event’s organizer and host in 2016.

Editors of steel at ACES 2015

Later this week, the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

About 500 full-time, part-time and freelance editors are registered for this year’s three-day gathering. That would make it the best-attended ACES conference in 10 years. They will come from news, academia, government, book publishing and the corporate world.

Sadly, I will not be among them. I cannot attend this year’s conference because of a family issue. I’ll miss out on great sessions and won’t be able to cheer on winners of the headline contest or congratulate students who have won scholarships. I will, of course, follow the news from the conference on the ACES website and via Twitter.

Best wishes to everyone going to Pittsburgh. I know that you will share a lot of knowledge as well as a few laughs. I hope to see you in Portland, Oregon, for the 2016 conference.

Blog break

This blog will be quiet for the next two weeks as I will be busy with other tasks. While taking a break from blogging, I plan to stay active on Twitter.

Next week, I will be in Montreal for the national conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. There, I will be an instructor at an “editing bootcamp” sponsored by the American Copy Editors Society, and I will serve as host for the Breakfast of Editing Champions.

The following week, I will be back on campus to get ready for the fall semester, which starts Aug. 20. That includes making final touches on syllabuses and assignments. I’ll also attend a faculty retreat as well as student orientations for our MATC and certificate programs.

Thanks, as always, for reading. See you in mid-August.