Student guest post: Three lessons from my publishing internship

Students in MEJO 557, Advanced Editing, are writing guest posts for this site this semester. This is the 10th of those posts. Jackson Smith is a UNC-Chapel Hill senior with a double major of editing and graphic design and history. He is an avid player of golf and tennis, and he enjoys hobbies in carpentry, woodworking and gardening. He has interned in news design and publishing, and he is training in SEC compliance standards in preparation for graduation.

In the spring of 2018, I started an entry-level unpaid internship as an assistant copy editor at a small publishing company. Through this internship I was able to gain many valuable experiences in editing that I have condensed here into three basic principles.

1. Don’t be set on that college stylebook

As a student in the School of Media and Journalism, I have learned a great deal about the editing processes of journalism, but the field of copy editing is vast and ever-changing. The positions are becoming less rigid in their structure, and the fields that editors work in are much more than just the newsroom today.

In publishing, as with many fields, the AP Stylebook is not always king. While at school we worked almost exclusively in AP style, at my internship I was quickly introduced to the wide range of style choices in academic media, most notably the Chicago Manual of Style.

The differences between these two stylebooks are stark. In the office, Chicago style relied heavily on the Oxford comma, and after years of being almost totally averse to using any non-necessary commas, to change in my thought process was difficult. My advice to the burgeoning editor is to be flexible on your principles of punctuation and rigid in your discipline, and the difficult change of style books can be greatly diminished.

2. You have to be a team player.

In the world of publishing, in the office or anywhere else as an editor, you will be faced with a variety of challenges when it comes to your coworkers. The process of copy editing is a long one, especially in the publishing field.

Starting at the initial look-over, the documents from the client can go through up to three edits, then composition, then proofing and indexing, then a final round of editing among various people to eliminate any mistakes, and improve the flow of the story. Among your colleagues in the office, many people can touch the proofs before and after they are formatted and converted either into an ebook or a PDF for final printing. This process is arduous, and takes many hours of reading and editing. Working with your fellow editors to know their strengths and weaknesses and being able to spot these in read-behinds is vital to all editors.

3. It is all in the details.

Editing is one of the most detail-oriented jobs in the media world. It is good to imagine yourself as an artisan of grammar.

In my experiences with copy editing at my internship, I realized that a book can have thousands of mistakes, large and small, that have to be corrected and reordered before the project is ready for publication. A young editor should be prepared to learn a great deal in a short time, and to put that knowledge to practice in the job.

Being diligent in your initial readings, light edits and read-behinds is vital, even if you have read the same five chapters of a book five times. Even when it is boring, or your eyes hurt, it should be your prerogative to look at every page like you have never read it before and are starting fresh. You cannot transpose that pesky quotation mark before punctuation mistake after printing.


Copy editing is a detail- and team-oriented job, with processes that require many stages of alterations. When you first start that internship or job, the best advice I can give you is to focus and not let the overwhelming materials get the best of you, and you will become a grammar artisan in no time.


Stormy Daniels, copy editor

Stormy Daniels in 2015 (Creative Commons image)
Stephanie Clifford, who appears in and directs pornographic movies under the name Stormy Daniels, is making headlines over an alleged affair with Donald Trump many years ago. She’s in the news now because it has come to light that shortly before the 2016 election, she was paid $130,000 to stay quiet about the relationship.

Clifford is an active Twitter user with more than 500,000 followers. As one would expect, she uses social media to promote her line of work.

Lately, Clifford has used Twitter to take on trolls who are attacking her and defending the president. When doing so, Clifford often points out shortcomings in the wording of their tweets.

Here she is on spelling:



Here she is on punctuation:


Here she is on word choice:



Apparently, this porn star (I prefer two words) is a lover of language. Perhaps Clifford will be able to find a career in words when a career in images is no longer an option for her.

Student guest post: Fucious TV promotes hip-hop news in North Carolina


Students in MEJO 557, Advanced Editing, are writing guest posts for this site this semester. This is the ninth of those posts. David Fee is a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying journalism with minors in studio art and creative writing. David enjoys making sculptures and playing the guitar. He likes to write about local music.

With the birth of social media, anybody and everybody can become a journalist. The platform Fucious TV, operated by DJ Tigo, is one of the most successful citizen-run news sources for hip-hop in North Carolina.

Fucious TV is primarily run through Instagram and YouTube. Tigo’s Instagram page has more than 17,000 followers and 4,500 posts — not bad considering Tigo started his platform promoting local artists less than a year ago.

Much of his original content on Instagram is linked to his YouTube channel, where he has interviewed more than 200 artists including rappers, R&B singers, hip-hop music producers and designers. Tigo records and conducts the interviews himself, often at his Raleigh home. For North Carolina artists outside Raleigh, Tigo records in the neighborhoods where the artists are from.

The interviews are relaxed, providing candid and honest responses from his subjects. Tigo, behind the camera, asks the artists about their inspirations as well as struggles they have had to overcome as an artist.

Tigo’s main goal is to promote the North Carolina rap scene. At the end of an interview, he always asks the artists what they think it will take to for the Carolinas to be “put on,” meaning recognized by the rap industry. Almost all of the artists say that the area-specific coverage of Fucious TV will catapult the talent from the state into stardom.

One of Fucious TV’s most popular interviews comes from Yung Boss Tevo, an up-and-coming rapper from Braggtown, a neighborhood in Durham. Tevo, 16, often raps about guns and drug-related violence happening in his neighborhood.

“Have you ever lost anybody to the streets?” asked Tigo in the interview.

“Yeah, I lost my [friend] King Dave,” Tevo said. “And then I lost my uncle in 2009. He got shot in the eye. I put him in most of my songs.”

While there are many underground artists ready to take the main stage, several North Carolina rappers have already gotten national attention: J. Cole from Fayetteville; Deniro Farrar, DaBaby and Well$ from Charlotte; G Yamazawa and Rapsody (with 9th Wonder’s production) from Durham. Of these North Carolina hip-hop stars, Tigo has interviewed the DaBaby.

Fucious TV content reaches audiences beyond the internet. In February, Tigo held the Fucious TV Showcase in Raleigh, featuring many of the artists he has interviewed, including Yung Boss Tevo. The event was a success, and he plans to hold more.

Aside from hip-hop related news and interviews, Tigo also posts local news on his Instagram page, usually related to topical social issues such as racial discrimination and gun violence.

While citizen journalism is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States with the advent of social media, other countries have employed alternative news sources for two decades. In South Korea, for example, the platform OhmyNews (launched in 2000) is operated by more than 30,000 citizen journalists. It is the most popular news source for South Korea.

But for Tigo, everything is about North Carolina. He encourages fans to post about their favorite local artists in order to promote the state’s talent and get it the national attention it deserves.

Fake News is a real beer


While picking up a few things at the grocery store, I noticed a beer with a timely name: Fake News.

I grabbed a six pack and read the label. Fake News is made by Gizmo Brew Works, a brewery in Raleigh, North Carolina.

As a journalist, I dislike fake news. It’s disinformation designed to confuse and mislead. It’s a real problem.

As a beer drinker, I like Fake News. It’s a tasty India Pale Ale that gets good reviews. I recommend it.

I was curious about the beer’s name, so I contacted Gizmo Brew Works to learn more about how the brewery picked it and how the company selects names for beers in general. Here’s what Joe Walton, head brewer and co-owner of Gizmo Works, told me via email:

Q. How do you decide what to name a beer?

A. That’s a great question with many answers, some more logical than others. We always start with the beer first. We release 20-plus completely new beers a year, so we have to come up with a lot of names.

Sometimes, the beer names itself. Our Beekeeper Honey Wheat is an example, as well as Hop Chocolate (a chocolate IPA), Hoppy Grounds (a coffee pale), Born 2 Bee Wild (a sour version of Beekeeper with wild yeast). These are the easiest but also the least frequent.

With 4,000-plus breweries in the United States with more opening daily, obvious names are few and far between. With so many new beers, we now tend to name a new beer that’s possibly a one-off, such as Lavender Kolsch or Red IPA until they prove themselves in the market. If the demand is there to bring it back, then we brand it (in the above instances, Reunion and Hop Hydrant respectively).

Then there are beers themed to a series, such as our high gravity monthly Inventors Series releases. These beers are all named after an inventor of something physical or conceptual. So Bright Idea, our Imperial White Chocolate Stout, is named after Thomas Edison and Renaissance Man after Da Vinci and Biplane after the Wright brothers, etc.

The final is the catch-all “WTF do I name this beer” category. These tend to be the most difficult but can lead to some of the strongest branding.

Our summer seasonal Deep Blue Saison is a play on the movie “Deep Blue Sea.” It’s a summer beer so sharks are relevant and the label is a great white jumping up to snatch blueberries out of the sky. Instead of blood smeared over his face, it’s blueberry jam.

We also have a peanut butter brown ale named Arachibutyrophobia, which is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of the mouth.

Q. Why did you decide to call this one Fake News?

A. Fake News was ironically a one-off, our first New England Style IPA. They tend to be more hazy and juicy with less perceived bitterness. They’re arguably the hottest trend in brewing right now outside of sours.

The name idea came to me as a play on words: Fake NewsEngland IPA. Considering that there are few words with more buzz in our country right now than “fake news,” it paired nicely with the style. It also was something we knew would get people at least talking about the beer.

Politics are normally a no-go in branding, at least for us. What’s funny for your side of the political spectrum is normally a gut punch to the other side, so why alienate half of your consumers with one beer and worst case turn them off your brand entirely and have them start trolling you?

Fake news is different. It applies to both sides, so regardless of your political views, it’s relatable and again a phrase we are hammered with daily from news, social media, etc. It’s been amazing watching how people react to the name and description (it’s almost always posted with a picture).

Fake News is now a year-round beer for us that’s a top two seller. It was also a lot of fun to come up with and write.

Student guest post: The crossover between editing and other media

Students in MEJO 557, Advanced Editing, are writing guest posts for this site this semester. This is the eighth of those posts. Brittney Robinson is a UNC-Chapel Hill transfer student studying journalism, with a prior degree in broadcasting and production. Having previously interned at TV station WLOS in Asheville, North Carolina, and radio station WNCW, she is looking to gain skills in print media as well.

As I walked through the doors of the place where I was going to spend a majority of the next few years of my life, an eagerness to learn coupled with excitement and nervousness swept over me. It was my first day of college, and I was ready to learn all there was to know about the field of mass media. Over the next couple of years I learned all about television and radio, which brought me to internships in both, teaching me skills in just about every aspect of the two.

Here I am now, having transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill, learning about print news and editing. Over the past few years, I’ve realized just how diverse my skills have become as a result, and why this is so important in current times.

Technology is advancing at rapid speed, and so has the expectation for employees to have broader skills. Here are some commonalities I keep encountering across all areas of news, which can be assets when editing in today’s technology world.

To start, no matter what aspect of news and information you go into, the skills gained in one area will likely cross over. For example, if your expertise is broadcasting, that doesn’t mean you can’t use some of those skills to land a job in editing print later. Yes, media is competitive and no two areas are exactly alike, but if you want to expand your job options, there are plenty of similarities between platforms.

Digital, broadcast, radio and print all require deadlines and news judgement. So does editing. You will need to be able to adhere to deadlines and have a keen eye for news. This includes being able to spot errors, pick proper stories and communicate effectively. Even if you aren’t the one interviewing people, you will still need to be able to understand the details of a story to get your thoughts across to consumers and peers.

According to “The Great War: The Similarities and Differences of Print and Television Media” by the website Inquiries Journal, Scott Berghegger mentions “both media report the same stories, and both carry within them a message within a message.”

Having an eye for detail is another aspect I’ve come across. Early in my academic career, I was surrounded by student peers that were mainly interested in behind-the-scenes production. I usually elected to be on camera when we had to form groups and pick roles. When it came time for me to take my first stab at my own video production, I was petrified. Here I was, a freshman, putting on my training wheels.

Little did I know this would be the most memorable moment to date in my academic career. Why? Because it challenged me to think on my own, look for proper video to complement my story and realize my own potential.

As a journalism student, I can’t stress enough how crucial these skills are in regards to editing. As an editor, you present a finished product that is both appealing and compelling. And possibly more important than anything, is the ability to not always agree with your colleagues on stories.

So those are my tips. The communication skills I learned in college, along with the day I was tasked with tackling the video camera, helped me develop the confidence needed. In addition, the internships I later took with WLOS and WNCW proved to me that I could carry the skills I learned to the editing desk as well.

Q&A with Lisa Tozzi of BuzzFeed News

Lisa Tozzi is global news director at BuzzFeed News, a position she has held since 2013. She previously worked at The New York Times, contributing to coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. In this interview, conducted by email, Tozzi discusses her work at BuzzFeed and offers advice to student journalists.

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

A. I oversee the breaking news, newsroom operations teams and curation (the team that helps manage and grow BuzzFeed News’s presence on various platforms) and work with the editors and reporters from other BuzzFeed News desks like world, investigations, politics, tech, etc. to coordinate news coming from their reporters. I also have the great fortune to be media editor Craig Silverman’s editor and to work with him and Jane Lytvynenko on fake news and debunking.

Breaking and curation is a 24/7 operation, and we have a reporters and editors in New York, Los Angeles and London and hand off to one another, which is especially critical when big news happens overnight or early in the morning.

I tend to loudly and nervously laugh when someone asks me what a typical day is like because I don’t remember typical days. Most days begin with looking at Twitter too early in the morning and needing a lot of coffee.

But every day is a bit of a wild ride, particularly over the past few years when the world feels increasingly chaotic and it is more important than ever that we are providing people with clear, reliable information around the clock. Luckily, I work with a magnificent team of reporters, editors and producers who are incredibly creative and smart and collaborative and just make me feel I won the lottery when I come to work no matter how crazy things get.

Q. Before working at BuzzFeed, you were at The New York Times. What was that transition like?

A. It wasn’t a shocking transition as I had long been more digitally focused at the Times and loved doing breaking news. But there were definite differences I noticed immediately.

One was that I suddenly didn’t have to think at all about a legacy product. I love The New York Times, I grew up reading the New York Times, I still get the print paper delivered to me on weekends. But it was interesting — dare I even say liberating — to not have to think about cutting a “web story for print” or ordering column space for Sunday on Thursday afternoon anymore. Stories didn’t need to be held for a slot on Page One, we could run them when they were ready to go. (I should note that The Times has changed a lot in the five years since I left.)

Also five years ago, news at BuzzFeed was very small and newish, and I had a chance to help build an operation and a culture rather than try to change a long-established one. Oh, yeah: There was also the whole bit of reporters having to constantly spelling B-U-Z-Z-F-E… when on the phone with sources when identifying themselves (DOESN’T HAPPEN AS MUCH ANYMORE!) and reading stories about BuzzFeed that talk about whether a site that is “known for cat GIFs” can do news. (STILL, SHOCKINGLY HAPPENS!)

Q. BuzzFeed is known for its headlines. What trends in headline writing are you seeing?

A. I don’t have any clear-cut trends to report, but we’ve always talked about writing stories people want to read and share at BuzzFeed. Some of what goes into that is thinking about how you frame a story vis-a-vis the headline.

We always stress that headlines should be conversational and not include jargon, as if you are telling a friend about the piece you’re writing. We experiment with different headlines in a story to see how they perform which can teach us a bit and help us inform future decisions. (Sometimes the headline conventions that a lot of people claim to hate are the ones readers respond to.)

Q. What advice do you have for journalism students interested in working for BuzzFeed?

A. I think a big mistake some journalists make is they come out of school and expect to immediately be an investigative reporter or think that they must immediately have a beat as if they’re picking a college major. At BuzzFeed News specifically, and for journalists in general, it really helps to be flexible and to experiment with different types of reporting and writing styles.

One of the many tragedies about the collapse of local newspapers around the country is that they were the best training ground for new journalists. I got my start as a general assignment reporter at a newspaper in New Jersey and covered everything from City Council meetings to crime to courts to political campaigns, and it was incredibly valuable to learn to be fast and versatile.

Reporters and editors on the breaking team at BuzzFeed News need to be able to write about everything from natural disasters and mass shootings to how YouTube and Instagram are changing celebrity to the viral story about a woman flushing her hamster down an airport toilet. We take social news really seriously and apply the same rigor we do with “hard news” to the quirky talker, and readers respond to that. Newsrooms shouldn’t think they’re above a certain kind of story if it is something that readers really care about, which is something we’re really conscious of.

Also: Learn how to spot misinformation and fake images. And read a lot.

Follow Lisa Tozzi and BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

Farewell to the Raleigh Public Record

The Raleigh Public Record is history. The news website officially shut down this week.

In a message on Facebook, the Record signed off this way:

“When we began this project years ago, our goal was to foster more discussion about Raleigh news and make sure someone was covering City Council. We feel our presence made a difference in both areas. Our leaders have moved on to other projects, and it’s time to officially say goodbye.”

The Raleigh Public Record started nearly 10 years ago. It was a nonprofit news organization funded by grants and donations. Its mission: Report news about the politics, communities and development of Raleigh, North Carolina. Its specialty was in-depth coverage of city government.

At its peak, the Record did just that. Its stories were picked up by, and the staff hosted Election Night watch parties.

As a resident of Raleigh, I was a frequent reader of the website. I was also a financial contributor and occasional consultant.

The Record started to lose momentum in 2014 when its founder, Charles Duncan, decided he was ready for a change and left for a job as an investigative reporter in the Cayman Islands in 2014. He is now an editor at The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In recent years, posts on the Record website became less frequent. Money was undoubtedly an issue. In 2017, the site was plagued by domain squatters.

So the Record’s end has come. The good news is the site has been archived, so it may still be a valuable resource about the city’s history.

Thanks to Charles, Ariella Monti, Jennifer Wig Suarez, Laura Fiorilli-Crews and other Raleigh Public Record staffers for their hard work over the years. The city is better informed thanks to your efforts.