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Monthly Archives: September 2008

My DJ Newspaper Fund internship was 25 years ago, so needless to say I had mixed feelings about Dr. Trayes’s request that I write something for this Web site. For one thing, it made me feel old – could it really have been 25 years ago? I often think back to those two weeks at Temple University; a lot of the lessons are lodged in my brain, and I feel like I automatically turn to them in my day-to-day work. No matter how much things change in journalism, many of the core principles remain the same: Be accurate, be interesting and don’t waste the reader’s time.

Still, it didn’t seem fair to be asked to write about my experience a quarter of a century ago – was it really that long ago? (2008 minus 1983 – yes) I didn’t want to think how old this must make Dr. Trayes, who remains in my mind the jovial and energetic fount of editing and headline tips. I remember the two weeks as jam-packed with work – I loved it for its practical applications and down-to-earth approach. I was studying at the University of Missouri at the time, and had worked at small daily and weekly papers. I drove to Philadelphia in my faded-yellow Volkswagen (known for needing a push-start), with my pet salamander, Spot, and a great deal of wonderment at the idea that I would be interning at the Boston Globe (the internship itself paid more than I had ever imagined, and the city was a far cry from my small-town life in Texas and Missouri).

After the two weeks at Temple, I felt more polished and even more eager to get to work. The process affirmed some things I had already learned on the job, but it raised the quality of what I knew I should be doing. It’s one thing to just get by – but the drills at Temple were demanding, and the exchange with the other interns raised the level even higher. I am sure every DJ Newspaper Fund group feels the same way – suddenly you are working with a group of the most talented journalism students from around the nation. We were friends on a mission – we loved journalism and I remember how energizing it was. We were like a mininewsroom, or incubator, bubbling over with excitement for the profession, our summer jobs and what the future might hold for us. I became good friends with several people in the program that summer, especially Brenda, Wendy and Patti.

The experience that summer convinced me that I would indeed be a journalist. There was no turning back. That following December I flew to New York for a tryout on The Wall Street Journal’s copydesk. I put all my DJ Newspaper Fund lessons to work to prepare for that tryout, and it paid off: I got the job and have been at WSJ for 24 years now (exactly half my life, thank you), in various roles (copyeditor, reporter, deputy bureau chief, news editor) and various locations (New York, Hong Kong, Brussels and London).

Throughout my career, I have crossed paths with other Newspaper Fund people – we are everywhere, and I think that is a testament to the success of the program. It also is a reminder that no matter the challenges our industry faces, and the changes in how we deliver news, quality and talent still count. If anything, the challenges for the industry are an opportunity for future Newspaper Fund participants – they are the ones who will be leaders in the changing media. I am looking forward to reading the blogs of this year’s summer interns 25 years from now.

Michael Catalini, a 2006 Penn State graduate and a 2005 DJNF/Temple editing intern at the Buffalo News, manages video production at the Baltimore Sun. He began at the Sun as a copy editor after graduation from Penn State in 2006. Later he started an online copy-editing desk for the Sun. During that time he also shot and edited video. Recently, he moved full-time to the multimedia department to manage baltimoresun.com‘s video content.

Copy editing intrigued me. Words and language, style and grammar are still great interests, but what I really love about journalism is how all those things add up to tell a story.

It was the story-telling aspect of journalism that led me from the traditional copy desk of the Baltimore Sun to, in two years’ time,managing video production for baltimoresun.com.

In the beginning, which for me was the Temple editing residency in Philadelphia, I was skeptical about entering copy editing. Newspapers were changing, maybe even going away. Would copy desks still be around in five or 10 years? What if this is not right for me? What if this was a mistake? Sure, language and grammar were interesting, but could someone, could I, really build a career around those things? Read More »



Bill White of The Morning Call, Allentown, Pennsylvania, was a Dow Jones
Newspaper Fund/Temple editing intern in 1973 at the Bergen (N.J.) Record.

White, who got his undergraduate degree from Lehigh University, was a
reporter, edition editor, Sunday editor and bureau editor at The Call
before settling into his present duties as a full-time columnist and,
eventually, daily blogger. He has won numerous statewide awards as an
editor and writer.

He also co-founded a national college wrestling newspaper and was a
Kiplinger Fellow in Public Affairs Reporting at Ohio State University,
where he got his master’s degree. He has been teaching journalism at
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, for the past 25 years as an adjunct professor.

The summer I spent with Ed Trayes and the Newspaper Fund has
benefited me throughout my career. As an editor, those copyediting and
layout skills helped me enhance the work of our writers, photographers
and my students, something that still brings me great satisfaction. But
I’m also convinced that a copyediting background is a tremendous
advantage to writers, because it helps them look at their own work with
the necessary critical eye.

On a personal level, those weeks at Temple introduced me to people
from all over the country, broadening my perspective in wonderful ways.
And my summer at the Record showed me first-hand the kind of rewarding
career that awaited me. In fact, I liked it so much that I applied to
the Call as a copy editor, although they hired me as a reporter.
What I have found in all my different roles is that the same
qualities serve you very well. Curiosity, meticulousness, imagination,
persistence, adaptability, a sense of humor and an eagerness to work
hard are an unbeatable combination, whether you’re working on the
copy desk, directing a staff or writing eight times a week as a columnist
and blogger.

Thirty-five years in, I have no regrets about the career I’ve
chosen, but the upheavals we’re experiencing now certainly must give
young people pause as they consider whether this is the field for them.
All I can tell them is that I believe there always will be a need for
good reporters and editors and that for me, at least, the rewards of
this profession have far outweighed its drawbacks. I believe those same
rewards await the next generation of journalists if they’re resilient
enough to persevere.

Angy Stricherz graduated from the University of Iowa in 1999. She was a 1999 DJNF/Temple/Ottaway intern with The Joplin (Mo.) Globe and an assistant with the program at Temple in 2001 and 2002. After Joplin, she worked for a year as a copy editor and page designer at the Springfield (Ill.) State Journal-Register. She interned as a designer at the Cape Cod Times in 2001, earned her MJ from Temple in 2002 and started in June of that year at Army Times Publishing Company, Springfield, Virginia, where she is now the senior design editor.

When I started as a copy editor at Army Times, I didn’t anticipate still working here six years later; but I feel fortunate to be with a company that’s managed to grow when so many papers are cutting back. Our newsstand sales continue to increase and we’re launching new products, including a new magazine in 2009. Even better, the people here are great to work with — journalists committed to serving our military readership–but my bosses also understand how important it is for me to be home with my young daughter (and my second one is on the way!) as much as I can.

That balance between work and life beyond the job is something that our mentor Ed Trayes would often talk to me about on Friday afternoons in his office at Temple. My education and training prepared me for demanding hours, quick decision-making and all-around hard work–best work–in an effort to be a valuable contributor, whatever the situation. Through it all I’ve been inspired to live a full life outside the news room. My young family keeps the deadline craziness and news room pressures in perspective.

Adam Manzor, DJNF/Temple 2007, keeps his eyes on two monitors with 10 different windows open as he tracks three different feeds for news at Dow Jones Newswires

What’s it like to write an accurate headline in less than 60 seconds and have it instantly published?

How about six headlines in two minutes? Could you handle it if your finger accidentally slid off of a key or hit “M” instead of “B” and instantly reported a company’s quarterly profits as millions instead of billions? Now the headline you just fed to thousands of automatic trading computers and onto the screens of hundreds of thousands of subscribers erroneously described a 99.9% drop in revenue for a major company for five minutes, potentially sending the company’s shares plummeting until you correct the mistake? How about if you did it twice in 30 minutes? Three times in a 7-hour shift?

Not that I’m saying I’ve ever done that ….

Moving From The Times To The Newswires

Last summer, I interned on the foreign copy desk at The New York Times. Every day I’d edit two to four stories a night, some of which were short wire stories and others were thousand-word features. Headlines, those hallmarks of wit and brevity, were a challenge to master. Even the blurbs, which are Zen-like nonstandard haikus of sorts that The Times uses largely in lieu of pull quotes, were fun but maddening to write. I had time to question copy and research whether I had the correct accent mark over the fifth letter of the maiden name of Argentina’s president. Other questions that might arise when editing were: Is it former president of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, or it it Pres. Pervez Musharraf, general of Pakistan’s army? I’ll let you look it up.

On my desk at Dow Jones Newswires, where I’ve worked for the past year, you don’t get style points for writing witty headlines when you’re racing against the clock. Even when I wrote pulses I could never write a headline such as “KFC’s 3Q Net Battered By Stale Chicken Sales.”

That was weak — clearly I’m out of practice. But I digress.

I’m a copy editor who doesn’t really edit copy, lay out pages or write cutlines. I write instantly published headlines based on information in press releases. Some of our headlines are specially formatted to be read by algorhythmic trading machines, so-called black boxes, designed to analyze corporate earnings, mergers, bankruptcy announcements, and then automatically trade shares for investment banks, brokerage houses and hedge funds. It’s the purest form of copy editing in that I’m required to know nothing about layout or design. All I have to do is make sure I don’t misspell Merrill Lynch and never get the numbers wrong. At all. Ever. Read More »

Kathy Brady Tulumello, above center, of The Arizona Republic, was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund/Temple intern in 1979 at The Boston Globe and an assistant in the Temple program in 1980. Also pictured are economy team content manager Mel Melendez and page designer Ayrel Clark.

Kathy Tulumello has been business center director of The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com since 2005. She and her 16-person staff are responsible for the business news report of the Phoenix-based paper, its online sites and two business magazines, bizAZ and Arizona Woman. The Republic’s business section was one of four giant (over 325,000) papers honored for overall excellence by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for 2007.

http://www.sabew.org/contest/2008/winners/genexcellencewin.htm#daily

The Republic also received an honorable mention for overall excellence from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for 2006. Kathy also has worked in sports and metro news in a variety of positions, including sports editor and deputy managing editor/daily at the Republic, where she has worked since 1995. Before that, she was sports editor, assistant news editor and assistant city editor at the old sister paper, The Phoenix Gazette, which closed in 1997. She also worked as a reporter and assistant city editor at the now-defunct Memphis Press Scimitar. She is a native of St. Louis and a journalism graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Years and miles separate me from my days at Temple to my life in Tempe, where I live now and work as business editor at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix.

Oddly, there’s really the difference of one “l.” Read More »

Lawrence Downes was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund/Temple editing intern in 1986 at Newsday, on Long Island. He went to the University of Missouri journalism school from 1987 to 1989, and soon after became a copy editor at The Chicago Sun-Times. In 1992, Lawrence Downes went back to Newsday. In 1993, he joined The New York Times as a copy-editing trainee. In succeeding years, his Times jobs were: Metro rim, Metro backfielder, Metro weekend editor, National backfielder and enterprise editor. Since 2004, he has been a Times editorial writer specializing in suburbia, immigration and veterans’ issues. His insights and observations on editors and editing follow:

When Professor Trayes asked me to write a post for this blog, I gladly said yes. I love editors and editing. I’m forever grateful to Dr. Trayes and the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund for propelling me into that vocation. (Before the Temple boot camp, I was a diffident English major.) I was a copy editor for most of my career, then an assigning editor for a while, before I made a relatively late detour to editorial writing. I’m still an editor at heart.

Editors — copy editors in particular — are underappreciated and overabused. I wrote a piece about them recently lamenting their diminished role in the online world.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/16/opinion/16mon4.html?scp=1&sq=newseum%20downes&st=cse

I followed up with a blog post about The Orange County Register sending some of its copy editing to India.

http://theboard.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/passages-to-india-a-papers-radical-survival-tactic/

I feel pretty gloomy about editing. I wish I could be less gloomy. I know the standard answer for a depressed colleague who is thinking about leaving journalism to open a pet shop. You’re supposed to say: Cheer up; editing is valuable; readers need clear and precise language, no matter what format it takes. Ink, paper, pixels, Web — it’s all the same, and we’ll all be fine.

It’s easy to believe that — until your copy desk shrinks to nearly nothing, or your time to edit disappears under a mountain of unrelated webby tasks, or your job gets sent overseas, or your paper folds. Reading the Romenesko blog these days is like reading about the end days in the Book of Revelation. There’s a huge industry shakeout going on, and it doesn’t seem that companies are rushing out to save the quality of their editing as everything else crumbles around them. In the instantaneous, ever-updating world of the Web, editing — copy editing, especially — is seen as hugely expensive, labor-intensive and only ephemerally valuable. Yes, of course, we editors all know that good editing protects journalistic credibility — but to news executives in these dire times, journalistic credibility is only one value among many; and for now, things like immediacy and cheapness seem to matter more. Read More »

Karen Egolf was a 1978 DJNF/Temple editing intern at The Boston Globe. After graduating from Penn State, she moved to Chicago to become a copy editor with the Suburban Sun-Times and then with Advertising Age, a business publication covering marketing. In 1982, she moved to Ad Age spin-off Electronic Media (now Television Week), where she was copy chief, then special projects editor and finally managing editor. In 1995, Karen became editor of Telephony, an Intertec weekly covering telephone technology. She then became editor of Ad Age sibling Business Marketing (now BtoB), overseeing the redesign of the company’s oldest publication. In 2000, she rejoined Ad Age, serving as co-editor of the Advertising Age Encyclopedia of Advertising. After creating the online edition of the print encyclopedia, Karen moved to the dark side, joining the sales team as editorial director of Ad Age custom programs, where she is today.

I would never have gone into editing if it hadn’t been for Dr. Trayes and the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund. Copy editing wasn’t presented as a career track in college; reporting, the professors implied (or perhaps I inferred), was the only track to take.

Yet here I am, 30 years later, happily editing away. Over the last three decades, I’ve been a copy editor, a sections editor, a managing editor and an editor running publications. I’ve edited, assigned, designed, redesigned, reported, written, posted, managed, hired (fired) and traveled.

And it all started with two weeks of training with Dr. Trayes and the AP Stylebook.

It hasn’t always been fun—or even tolerable. But it has been satisfying. The key, I believe, is to build your career on something you enjoy and care about deeply—something you’re good at, at the very basic level. That commitment will keep you going through the trying times and will charge you up when things are going well. Read More »

Over the past year, I have been hired, promoted, laid off, then
rehired and promoted again. I knew I was entering a chaotic industry
when I graduated from journalism school more than a year ago, though I
mistakenly felt immune to the turmoil because my paper, The Wall
Street Journal
, was in good financial shape and seemed to be evolving
with the changing market.

The takeover of Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of the Journal, by
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., had taken the industry by surprise, and
the buzz always came back to me in waves of panic and curiosity: Will
the Journal become the New York Post? Will Fox News become our new
editorial model? Will the empire fester or thrive under the new
management? It seemed ridiculous to me, and I was confident any
changes to the Journal would be minor.

I came on to the global copy desk in October 2007, a few months before
the sale became final. The mood was calm on the desk, as far as I
could tell, but that calm eroded steadily after January 2008. Our highly
respected managing editor stepped down amid much head-butting and
closed-door meetings at the New York office. The replacement editor
was straight from the Murdoch pipeline, and speculation over the
paper’s future started buzzing louder. We found out the news
operations would all be moving under one roof in Midtown Manhattan. The front
page saw larger and more frequent photos played above the fold;
business news, which had always dominated the lead spot, competed with
more-general news stories.

I welcomed many of the changes, even as many bristled at the
inconvenience of moving back to NY. (The copy desk moved to South
Brunswick
, N.J., in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001,when the newsroom at
the World Financial Center was damaged in the attacks). Bullies or
not, I saw an opportunity to make some needed changes to a paper whose
readership was getting old and whose editorial pages seemed so out of
touch they bordered on offensive. I believed, as I still believe, the
Journal’s news coverage is the finest in the world; and if shaking
things up a bit meant bringing more readers in, I was in favor of it.

Then the ax came down on me. In July, I was working in New York to
help launch WSJ. magazine, so I was shocked when rumors of layoffs in
South Brunswick reached me via e-mail. My boss wrote me a terse
message, telling me I had to come back to South Brunswick for a day.
My co-workers caught me up on some of the gossip, and after a meeting
was called, we knew what was coming. The copy desk, our new managing
editor informed us, was over. Everyone was laid off, but encouraged to
apply for new spots in what would amount to an overhaul of the
news-production system at the Journal. There were just 24 new spots
being created for more than 60 copy editors being let go. Read More »

Diego Sorbara was a DJNF/Temple editing intern at The Hartford Courant in 2005. After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2006, he went on to intern on the copy desk at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. For one-and-a-half years, he worked as a page designer/copy editor in just about every section of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. In April
2008, he joined the foreign copy desk at The New York Times.

I’ve really only had one firm career goal: to work in journalism.
It wouldn’t matter much to me if I worked at a small weekly in
middle-of-nowhere, Illinois, or a massive national paper in a rather large
city. But truth be told, when I started college I had no clue how a real
newspaper worked. College papers can give you a pretty good approximation,
sure, but how do you simulate a turbulent industry?

When I arrived at The Hartford Courant, I was introduced to the world of
Tribune Company cost-cutting measures. Already, the range of coverage had
been greatly reduced. They were no longer shipping the paper up to Maine and
down to Martha’s Vineyard during the vacation season. There was more and
more wire copy where there should have been staff-written articles. But to
counteract all of that, there was undying optimism. In light of all the cuts
that would come down the road, people there still believed in the value of
their work.

Last month in the latest round of layoffs, my copy desk mentor (one of the
assistant slots) and several other copy editors were let go.

Dozens of people left the Rocky Mountain News through buyouts or just of
their own volition during the one-and-a-half years I worked there. The paper
shrank in physical size. Rumors always seemed to be flying around that
something awful was coming down the pike. And then there came the concept of
doing more with less.

This lengthy exposition brings me to the only two career
observations/suggestions I can make. One: hold tight to optimism at all
costs. Two: defy the catchphrases. Read More »