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vet parade

Kate Schwing was a DJNF/Temple editing intern at The New York Times News Service in 2005. She was laid off from her first job as a copy editor at The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, then rehired two months later — and asked to wear a whole bunch of new hats.

Being back in my old chair has given me a slightly new perspective and new
responsibilities. I returned just in time to help my newsroom switch from an
ancient version of Hermes to the newest version of DTI, a flashy,
Adobe-based interface. The change had some of the — how to say this
politely? — technologically less-literate on the desk quaking. Much
grumbling was done under breaths as we sat through classes for hours in
which DTI representatives taught us how to spell-check stories.

Inside page design was quickly added to our duties. I found myself needing
to understand art placement, graphics, boxes, headline weights and rules —
things I hadn’t had to think about since college. I welcomed the new
challenge, trying to help my co-workers along, happy mostly to still have a
job. I came to realize what was actually making me happy was expanding my
skills as a journalist in whatever ways I can, not just collecting a
paycheck for doing so. (The paycheck helps, don’t get me wrong.)

A 20-year-plus veteran of the desk announced her retirement in September,
leaving our main wire editor position open, a job I’d been interested to try
since I got to The Gazette. I started taking over that job on weekends,
pulling national and world stories for the A section. I’ve helped plan and
compile in-depth pages on a number of subjects, including a pre-election
digest of races to watch, swing states and more. I post stories to the Web
site.

Certainly you only get this kind of variety at a smaller paper; even more so
as the desk shrinks within. I find it interesting and exciting to engage in
journalism on so many levels. Do I feel like less of an actual copy editor?
Not really. Only when the workload reaches towering levels do I feel like
I’m shoveling, not editing critically. It happens more and more these days,
but it’s a challenge I’m interested in seeing through. The skills we gain on
the desk are useful in all kinds of new avenues.

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