Q&A with Dow Jones News Fund intern Trevor Lenzmeier

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Trevor Lenzmeier is a Dow Jones News Fund editing intern at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A 2018 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, he wrote for The Daily Tar Heel, QSR magazine and Media Hub while in college. In this interview, conducted by email, Lenzmeier discusses his internship experience, his journalism education and what’s ahead.

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

A. I interned with one other Dow Jones intern on the universal desk at the Post-Gazette.

My typical day includes reviewing stories on the web that have already been published when I get in, editing print pages in the evening, plus page design and putting together briefs — little recaps of the four or five biggest stories from around the country and world for the next day’s paper.

I write headlines for the U-desk, but I have also worked on a reporter’s podcast and been allowed to write some concert reviews and foodie pieces, which has been awesome.

Q. What was the biggest challenge of the internship, and what was the greatest reward?

A. The hours are long, and everything happens in a flurry. You have to be able to go from 0 to 60 in an instant while handling a few different pots on the stove.

There are also daily challenges you have to roll with, like everyday technical errors and last-minute breaking stories, while keeping a cool head and communicating with a big team of journalists.

You get a daily, physical reward, though, in the form of a newspaper in the morning. Noticing corrections I’ve made in our copy is intensely gratifying.

Q. What advice would you give to students considering applying for a Dow Jones News Fund internship?

A. Take the practice tests online, review the AP Stylebook, taking note of what trips you up, and read the news! Reading news stories from The Daily Tar Heel to The New York Times leads to better news judgment and more familiarity with unfamiliar style conventions.

Write for the DTH and take Professor Bechtel’s class (he didn’t ask me to say this). UNC had me very prepared for the Dow Jones editing bootcamp at Temple University. Get work experience early; the Daily Tar Heel is an excellent place to start.

Q. Congratulations on the internship. What’s next for you?

A. I’m thrilled to be staying in Pittsburgh. I’ve accepted an offer to be a two-year associate editor on the sports desk.

My internship wraps up at the end of August, and I’ll start my real-world gig in the middle of September. More of the same and a whole lot more editing to come.

I’m incredibly grateful to my j-school professors, the Daily Tar Heel and Dow Jones for the opportunity!

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A busy break

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I am taking a break from this blog for the next month or so, but I’ll be busy elsewhere.

After living in Raleigh for the past 17 years, I am moving to Durham. I am helping my son get ready to go to college. He will attend Rice University.

I’ll also prepare for the courses that I will teach in the fall semester at UNC-Chapel Hill: two sections of News Editing and one section of Writing and Editing for Digital Media.

Thanks for reading. See you in August.

 

Jazzed about journalism

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Next week, I am stepping out of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill and spending my days at the music department.

I am one of several instructors in the UNC Summer Jazz Workshop. It’s the third time that I’ve participated in the one-week program.

So what is an editor doing at a jazz workshop? I’ll work with about a dozen students who want to learn about digital journalism as part of their workshop experience.

Here is our schedule:

Monday, June 18
Topic: Introductions. What is news? What makes a good post?
Exercises: Create a WordPress site at web.unc.edu. Post your impressions of this evening’s performance.

Tuesday, June 19
Topics: Exploring writing formats for digital media; basics of interviewing.
Exercise: Interview a workshop participant and post a vignette about them.

Wednesday, June 20
Topic: Writing for social media and live-tweeting.
Exercise: Use Twitter (and more) to cover the evening performance.

Thursday, June 21
Topic: Writing headlines and captions.
Exercise: Write headlines and captions.

Friday, June 22
Topic: Pulling it all together.
Exercise: Use Wakelet to recap our week.

Thanks to Stephen Anderson, the workshop’s director, for the opportunity to work with these students. I’m looking forward to an exciting week of music, words and images.

Q&A with Sergio Tovar, social media specialist at Duke University

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Sergio Tovar is social media specialist at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. He previously worked as a sportswriter and online producer at The Charlotte Observer. In this interview, conducted by email, Tovar discusses his job, the transition to higher education from news and life as a Tar Heels fan in Blue Devils country.

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

A. I’m in charge of social media for Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. That means I spend a large part of my day promoting our content, monitoring our different channels and covering school events. I also look at analytics to figure out long-term strategy to help us recruit prospective students and reach the overall community.

Aside from social media, I’m responsible for writing stories, press releases and other internal communication highlighting our students, faculty and research while also editing our student blogs. I also help with digital marketing and advertising as well as video and multimedia production.

I pretty much do a little bit of everything, and no two days are the same, which is something I really like.

Q. Before working at Duke, you were a reporter and online producer at The Charlotte Observer. What was that transition like?

A. I like to tell people that being a journalist today requires you to wear so many different hats that it makes changing jobs – and picking up new skills as you go – a little easier.

I already had experience with a lot of what I do now while working in the newsroom, so that made it a pretty easy transition. I had no experience in higher ed, so I did have to learn about how the school operates, how recruitment works as well as other aspects of the field.

Honestly, the biggest transition was learning to take my time to work on projects. Working for an online-first publication, you pretty much have an ongoing deadline and are constantly trying not to get beat by a competitor. That’s a hard mentality to break away from.

Q. You’re a 2009 graduate of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill. What skills and concepts that you learned there do you use today? What have you learned on the job?

A. I became a much better writer as a student there, and no matter what my job is, I’ll continue to use that every single day.

Knowing how to condense a big idea and communicate it to a specific audience is very important to my job. If you ever have to translate a scientific paper into everyday English, you’ll know what I mean. Everything from knowing how to interview people to some of what I learned in media law is still applicable to what I do.

Dating back to my Daily Tar Heel days, I learned the importance of knowing how to multitask, especially when you’re working under deadline. I’m constantly working on a few projects on top of my day-to-day responsibilities, so I can’t even begin to describe how important having that skill is in the real world. Other than that, I’ve learned to be flexible, to always take time to learn from my co-workers and to never stop looking for new skills.

Q. So you work at Duke but went to UNC. What’s your life like on Carolina-Duke game days?

A. I’m a huge Carolina fan, so I try to be as obnoxious about it as possible. If you take one look at my desk, there’s no question about where I went to school, and on game day I’m more than likely wearing Carolina blue to reinforce the point.

I don’t really work directly with people who care all that much about the rivalry, so I don’t catch as much flak as you would imagine. We also have several other Tar Heels in the building, so I have some backup.

Aside from a little bit of friendly trash talk, the worst thing has been having a co-worker hand deliver a copy of The (Duke) Chronicle after losses. When UNC wins, I don’t return the favor. I just show up in Carolina blue again.

A 40-year-old intern in L.A.

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Ten years ago this week, I was starting a seven-week stint at The Los Angeles Times.

At the time, I had been in academia and out of the newsroom for three years, and I was feeling out of touch with rapid changes in journalism. I sought to be a 40-year-old intern, with a digital focus, at a news organization.

The Los Angeles Times agreed to take me on for part of the summer. My official title was “contractor.” My work each day was as an editor, posting stories to the website and writing headlines, among other tasks.

Working on the Web desk of The Los Angeles Times refreshed my editing skills and allowed me to learn some new ones.  I also learned that you can get by in Southern California without a car, thanks to the Big Blue Bus. And hiking in Topanga Canyon and having a celebrity sighting (Larry David at a sushi restaurant) were part of the fun of living in L.A.

Thanks to everyone at The Los Angeles Times — especially Henry Fuhrmann, Eric Ulken and Daniel Gaines — for their guidance and camaraderie for that time in 2008. Thanks also to my friends Frank and Jody, who invited me to live in their guest room on the Westside.

Ten years later, I am doing my best to keep up with changes in journalism so I can teach my students well. Webinars, workshops and conferences are helpful, but I’m due for another newsroom experience. If you are looking for a 50(ish)-year-old intern in 2019, let me know.

Two N.C. journalists sign off

In my nearly 30 years in professional journalism, I have been fortunate to work with many talented colleagues in newsrooms and classrooms. Two of them retired last week:

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Dan Barkin at his sendoff from The News & Observer. (Photo courtesy of Ethan Hyman)

Dan Barkin stepped down as managing editor at The News & Observer. He previously served as business editor at the Raleigh newspaper, leading one of the country’s best business sections.

I worked closely with Dan in the early 2000s when he was deputy managing editor and I was Nation and World editor. He helped the N&O newsroom coordinate coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Iraq war and the 2004 presidential campaign. His advice and guidance were invaluable.

Dan plans to spend time with his grandchildren, go for long walks and enjoy the North Carolina coast.

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Jock Lauterer at his sendoff from the School of Media and Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Jock Lauterer stepped down as senior lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism school. In his 17 years of teaching at his alma mater, he led the Carolina Community Media Project to boost local journalism. He’s written a textbook on that topic and led workshops at community newspapers throughout the state.

In 2008, Jock started the Durham VOICE, a student-produced website and monthly newspaper that covers a part of Durham that is often overlooked by other news organizations. Students in my Advanced Editing course contribute by editing and posting stories to the site. Our collaboration brought back that unique feeling of working in a newsroom.

Jock plans to return to the VOICE in spring 2019 as a part-time instructor. He’s also taken up the cello.

Best wishes to Dan and Jock on their retirements. Thank you for making me smarter and for bringing the news to readers across North Carolina.

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Covering the aftermath of Hurricane Maria

Each spring, journalism students from UNC-Chapel Hill create a multimedia project that focuses on a place and topic. Last year, students covered trends among young people in Cuba.

This year, another group of students visited Puerto Rico to document the island’s struggles after Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017. The result is Aftermath, a website that includes video, photography, story text and infographics to tell this important story.

Congratulations to the students and to my colleagues Pat Davison, Tamara Rice, Christa Gala and Kate Sheppard. Thank you for inviting students in my Advanced Editing class to contribute to the success of this project.