Editors at Work: San Antonio Express-News

Jamie Stockwell is managing editor of the San Antonio Express-News in San Antonio, Texas.

How did you get into editing?

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and I had a degree in journalism. I moved to Washington, D.C. for an internship at The Washington Post. I worked there as a reporter for eight years covering primarily criminal justice issues. I moved back to my native south Texas 10 years ago to become a criminal justice editor. After editing for a couple of years I became the metro editor, and then from there I became the managing editor, which is what I do now. I oversee the daily operations of the newsroom and our subscriber websites.

To be a successful editor, what skills do you consider critical?

I think the same skills that are really critical for a reporter, too, and that’s, above all, a curiosity. There are a lot of things that we can help shape, but we can’t fix an incurious person. With editors I really look for patience, too, and an ability to coach and mentor the younger reporters on staff. I think a bit of fearlessness and some skepticism, too, is really important. We always want to take people at their word, but you’ve got to have a little bit of skepticism to question and not be afraid to question.

What do you love about your job? 

I just love working with reporters and editors from the beginning of reporting all the way through to the final editing. I love working with the designers to get it packaged and presented in a very interactive and engaging fashion online, and then in print so that it feels more like a lean-back experience where it’s something that readers can really spend some time with. I love the aspect of being out in the community. It’s really important to get to know the everyday reader who has a truly vested interest in what we do and why we exist. I try to meet with people as often as I can and go to events, and just get to know not just our readers, but the people who are implementing policies and voting on major issues.

What challenges do you face in your role?

The biggest challenge is getting reporters to really understand the importance of early deadlines that are digitally driven to capture the online readers and to really engage with them and interact with them in a way that’s very different from print. Beyond the competitive issues, people are very busy, so trying to find a space where we can get into their lives a little bit and help them learn more about the community.

Can you give an example of how you do that?

I moderated a panel called Headlines & Hops. I had on the panel my political reporters, and we talked a lot about local politics, state politics and national politics. It was great because we had 200 people show up for this—all subscribers or new subscribers— and they were really engaged and interested, and a lot of them stayed afterwards to talk to us.

 

The San Antonio Express-News has paid summer internship opportunities at is newsroom in San Antonio, Texas.

 — Lauren Rose DiNuzzo, M.A. ’19

 

Editors at Work: Norton

Erik Fahlgren is a vice president and the chemistry and astronomy editor in the college division of W.W. Norton.

What is a typical day like for you at Norton?

As an editor, I probably don’t do as much editing as someone might expect. In other businesses, I might be called a brand manager. My job is to find authors and understand what the market wants in a textbook and the things that go with a textbook and then find authors to create that material. I do some editing, but really I work on a much bigger picture with the authors to make sure that they’re doing the things that people who teach the courses they’re writing books for want. In a day, I might be talking to my authors, talking to the developmental editors that are working on the projects, reading reviews. 

How did you get into college textbook editing?

One of the things that’s different about college textbook publishing is that editors almost always come through sales. I started my career as a college sales rep. I called on college campuses, talked to professors about the courses they teach and then tried to get them to “adopt” my textbooks. From there I went into marketing and then editorial.

Why science textbooks, though?

I kind of fell into it. As a student, I did not like science. When I got into sales and I started talking to scientists about how they teach and the kinds of struggles they had and what motivated them, I found them to be really interesting. I was pretty good at talking to them and getting them to use my books. That caught the eye of companies I worked for that maybe I was a good fit for science. I’ve been in it long enough now that I tell people, “I know enough science to be dangerous.”

So editing science textbooks was never your plan as an English major?

It was not what I intended to do. I’m not sure what I intended to do. I think at one point I thought maybe I would be a writer, and then at another point maybe I would be an English teacher. I got to meet some people who were publishing sales reps. I thought what they did sounded pretty cool. That was the job I wanted, and I got that job. Then, as I worked in that job, people mentioned that I seemed to give feedback to the office about things we should probably do to our books that would make them a better fit for my customers. I was promoted through marketing and into editorial. I did not have a grand plan, so that’s how that worked.

How did you deal with the learning curve of editing a subject that you didn’t really like and weren’t familiar with?

By the time I got into editorial, I did like the subject. I think that science education is extremely important. I’m not going to say that I understand it all, but it’s right at that place where I’m okay. I’m also not afraid to say when I don’t know. A lot of what I do is trust my authors. I think that, as an editor, it’s important to know when to trust them and when to push them and get them to do something they didn’t think they wanted to do or hadn’t thought about doing.

Science textbooks can be expensive. Why?

There is a lot of money that goes into what we do. All of the art that is created, we have to hire a studio to work with the author and developmental editor to develop the art. There is a long revision process. We hire different professors and pay them to read chapters and give feedback. The author may write the manuscript in Word, but that has to be put into InDesign, and that’s what makes the pages look the way they do. That, again, is costly. Then there’s photo permissions. The other things that are outside of the book that students may or may not see are the instructor’s resources. We hire people to write test banks, to write instructor’s manuals, to create PowerPoint slideshows. We spent millions of dollars on an online homework system and the content that goes in there so that homework can be graded and students can get feedback in real time. Some of those things are also done for English books, let’s say, but the cost of the photos and the art and on the media side, if we do things like animations and videos, those are additional costs that all get wrapped up into the price of the textbook.

 

W.W. Norton offers internships for rising juniors and seniors in its Managing Editorial Department as well as numerous other opportunities listed here.

—Leslie Briggs, ’17, M.A. ‘18

Editors at Work: Chicago Tribune

Kathleen O’Malley is a copy editor for the Chicago Tribune.

How did you choose a career in copy editing? 

I was always good as a kid at pointing out things that were wrong or reworking things that were wrong. My first job was at my hometown newspaper in Muncie, Indiana. For my interview, I took a week’s worth of papers and marked them up. I went in and said, “If you hire me, this stuff wouldn’t happen.” I stayed there for 10 years.

What is your general process for copyediting a story?

I read through the entire story, making small fixes as needed. I read through a second time, looking for holes or other questions for the reporter. The final time, I make sure all changes make sense. You should read every story as if you are a reader of the newspaper. You’ll likely have the same questions in a story that a reader might.

With today’s news of the Congressman Steve Scalise shooting, what was the newsroom like?

Today was interesting. The story was localized because the shooter was from Illinois, so the Metro desk had someone writing a profile of the gunman. The National and Foreign desks were doing their things. Opinion was writing editorials about it. There’s a lot of coordinating to get stuff up on the website and have it all mesh with each other. We had to make sure the details were right. Stupid stuff like “Are we going to use this guy’s middle initial?” Metro had “Five people wounded in the shooting,” and it turns out one story had “Five people injured.” Another had “Five people injured but one wasn’t shot.” It’s just a matter of getting all those facts to match.

How do you get those things to match?

I was reading an editorial that stated, “Five people wounded,” and I was thinking all five of those people had been shot. And oddly enough, I looked up and CNN had on its crawl, “Four people injured.” Was it four or five? I went to the other desks and asked what they had going on in their stories. I went to the Metro editor to see what they had and then called the Opinion person and said: “These people have this, and those people have this. We need make it match what the actual situation was.” That took about 20 minutes to straighten out. It’s really embarrassing when your paper has three different versions of something happening.

What’s your advice for aspiring copy editors?

Challenge yourself. Dive into the deep end, and trust you’ll figure it out. I’ve gotten a “baptism by fire” at a couple of my jobs, and while I was terrified of failing, I always came out fine. If there’s a job you want, don’t give up. It took multiple attempts to get the jobs I wanted. Once I was invited to take a copyediting test, and it took another year before I was hired. Be flexible, and you’ll be viewed as a team player.

 

Saint Joseph’s University students interested in post-graduate training opportunities in Tribune-owned newsrooms in Chicago or Los Angeles or for the digital news site tronc.com should visit the Metpro website.

—Kevin Kaufman, M.A. ’18

Abby Riviello, ’14: Copywriter

Abby Riviello, 14, is a copywriter at Cohere, formerly At Media Branding, which has offices in Philadelphia and Baltimore. While at St. Joes, she was copy chief for The Hawk student newspaper, a tutor in the SJU Writing Center and a peer ambassador for the SJU Center for International Programs after a semester abroad at the National University of Ireland in Galway.

How did you end up at At Media Branding? 

Right at the end of senior year, I was applying for an internship. I was an English and communication studies double major, and I wanted to work in media but also do a lot of writing, and in searching for internships, the one thing that kept coming up was copywriting, especially at agencies. I ended up interviewing at a couple agencies, but At Media was the one that hired me for an internship. It kind of just blended the perfect world of English and communications. They hired me at the end of the internship, and I’ve been here ever since.

As a copywriter, what does your typical day look like?

Oh, boy! So, we are a very small agency. There’s only 13 of us, so we all wear a lot of hats. We have a wide variety of clients: apartment building clients, office buildings, also restaurants and non-profits. On any given day, I could be writing a strategy for a new client to kick off a project, writing a web manuscript for a website we’re designing or writing a creative concept for a campaign with our designers where there’s a lot of proofreading involved. It’s a very wide range of things, and depending on what client or what day it is, my day could look completely different. It’s what keeps it interesting.

How did your experiences at St. Joes, perhaps even your experience as copy chief of The Hawk, prepare you for your career?

The Hawk is my favorite thing I’ve ever done. I loved the collaborative nature of The Hawk, working with all the different editors to put an issue together and being copy chief, getting to read and contribute to every aspect of the paper. I never thought I would find that same kind of environment, and yet here at At Media, it’s that small, close-knit office, and we’re very collaborative. I get to work on every type of project. The Hawk definitely prepared me for supervising copy editors under me and how to manage my interns because I do have one or two interns each round, so that was good practice. It helped me in the proofreading aspect of my job and ensuring quality. It helped me think about how to be creative and also push through those hard deadlines. There are very similar parallels.

What is your favorite project youve worked on?

My favorite project was for The Science Center in University City. We did kind of a brand realignment. We updated their website with new fonts and colors and updated their messaging mostly. We are also launching the “We Are All Scientists” campaign. I wrote a video manifesto for that, and it’s basically to say, “Hey, everyone is a scientist. We all experiment, and we all repeat until we figure out what we’re doing.”

Do you have any advice for young writers or editors trying to break into the job market?

Don’t limit yourself if you’re not sure what direction you want to go in because it’s all really good experience. From a writing perspective, I always just like to remember, even when I’m writing as a brand, we’re still talking to a person. Remembering the human aspect when writing and remembering that writing is really to build connections is why I like writing.

 

For internship and career opportunities at Cohere, check out the “Careers” section on the company’s website.

—Ashley Cappetta, ’17

Brendan Prunty, ’06: Public Relations Account Executive

Brendan Prunty, ’06, is a senior account executive at Coyne PR. He previously worked as a sports journalist for The Star-Ledger and as a contributing writer for The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated. While at St. Joe’s, where he majored in political science and minored in English, he worked as a sports writer for The Hawk student newspaper. He is the author of “Basketball’s Game Changers” (2017).

How did you get your first job in sports journalism? 

I sent in the neighborhood of 200 clip packets to newspapers and magazines. Just about a week after I graduated, The Star-Ledger had a lead for someone to work the nightshift for formatting baseball box scores, and I said yes, absolutely. Whatever I could do to get my foot in the door. And then from there I just peppered my editors with story ideas. Basically whatever it took to move off the desk and into writing full time. Lo and behold, it somehow actually worked.

How did you get published in such high-profile publications as Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated?

In 2014 The Star-Ledger underwent a huge reorganization company wide, so unfortunately, I was laid off. I had built a pretty good reputation in terms of my writing and reporting, and not only that but contacts through other writers, through editors.

How was your transition from journalism to public relations?

I had gotten exposed to PR through a number of PR folks I had dealt with who pitched me story ideas and I grew friendly with. I took notes on how they did their jobs, how they did their jobs with me, and then how I took their pitches and turned them into stories. I’m essentially just thinking of what I used to do but on the other side. I didn’t have to reinvent myself and learn a whole new set of skills. It was kind of a natural transition that was made a little easier by my previous career.

What services do you provide to your sports clients?

Everything from getting them in the news to strategic planning to coming up with concept ideas for product launches. One of our clients right now is Phoenix Raceway in Arizona, and they’re doing a big $178 million renovation project. We’ve done a lot of planning on events to capitalize on their NASCAR, IndyCar race weekends, their project highlights and milestones. We also represent the Harlem Globetrotters. Sometimes you’ll see something funny in the news, and we’ll jump on a phone call and say, “How can we take advantage of this to get a little notoriety?” It’s a little bit of everything.

What else have you been working on?

This past February I published my first book, which was titled Basketball’s Game Changers. It was a chronicle of the history of basketball— all the different components, whether it’s players, teams or innovations that have made the game what it is. I took everything old and new and tried to weave some stuff in there that is known, like the Dream Team and Michael Jordan, with some innovations and moments and people that may not be at the forefront. I threw an NBA Jam chapter in there. A chapter about Chuck Taylor’s sneakers. There was a little flavor of everything.

Any advice for writers entering a new work environment?

Frankly, just work hard. It sounds cheesy and simple, but I found in working in newspapers and now working in PR that no matter what your area of expertise is, if you continue to show that you’re eager and enthusiastic and interested and willing to learn, people will gladly lend any amount of time to help you. In PR, it’s a put-your-nose-to-the-grindstone-and-let-the-results-speak-for-themselves type of thing.

 

Interested in interning at Coyne PR? Check out the Coyne PR career page for available opportunities. The firm has local offices in Parsipanny, New Jersey, and New York City.

—Elizabeth Krotulis, ’17

Sarah Sutherland, ’16: Communications Specialist

Sarah Sutherland, ’16, is a communications specialist in the National Customer Operations division at Comcast. While at St. Joe’s, she was a copy editor for The Hawk student newspaper, a tutor in the SJU Writing Center, editor of the English Department Newsletter and a member of Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society.

How did you end up at your current job? 

After graduating in May 2016, I got a job as an editorial assistant at a healthcare publication based in King of Prussia. Unfortunately, the company closed in early 2017, but my current team at Comcast saw a lot of overlap in what I did there and what I do now.

 What do you do at Comcast?

My team is responsible for communicating information regarding new policies, products and updates to the frontline employees, meaning sales and repair agents, via internal databases and daily newsletters. Most of my day is spent editing information supplied by the teams that actually develop these products or updates, but I also occasionally write original content in the form of spotlight profiles of frontline agents.

What skill developed as an English major do you find most useful for the work you do now?

At Comcast, whenever I’m writing about a new product or policy, I have to be comfortable asking the developing teams questions and determining how to translate that information into language that can be easily understood by people who’ve never heard of the new product or policy.

Did your time tutoring in the Writing Center help prepare you for this job?

Funny story. When I had my initial phone interview with a recruiter for my first job, she noticed that I was a writing center tutor and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, we love writing center grads!” Turns out that title means a lot to recruiters and hiring managers.

 What advice do you have for college students searching for their first job?

Even if you think you’re not qualified, apply anyway. You’ll get a lot of rejections and, more than that, you’ll apply to a lot of jobs and never hear back. That’s okay! Applying and getting rejected helps you narrow down your search and hone your interviewing skills. You’ll get a job that’s perfect for you. It’ll just take time.

Anything else you think students should know?

Don’t underestimate the power of a St. Joe’s degree. A huge part of the reason I got my first job is because my hiring manager was an SJU alum. Hawks are everywhere, and you’ll find very quickly that SJU alums look out for each other, no matter how long ago they left the nest.

 

Current college students can check out Comcast’s careers site for internship opportunities at the company.

—Theresa Bender, ’17

Madeleine Keogh, ’15: Grant Writer

Madeleine Keogh, ’15, is an associate grant writer for WHYY.

 Can you describe your job? 

I work in the fundraising department writing grants that seek to secure funding for WHYY and its programs from local and national foundations.

What led you to a career in grant writing?

When working in the Writing Center at Saint Joseph’s University, a fellow tutor mentioned to me that she volunteered with a non-profit organization in North Philadelphia writing grants. Someone had told me about careers in grant writing before, but I hadn’t really thought about it since then. I asked her if they were in need of more volunteers, and she said that they were. I began volunteering, and soon after that, started looking for jobs as a grant writer.

Could you describe what goes in to writing grants?

When non-profit organizations seek funding for their programs, they will write a grant proposal. In this proposal you justify the need for the money you are asking for by describing the program, the positive impact the program has on society, how you measure that impact, and the like. A proposal could be anywhere from a single page to 100 pages. Grant writing is not only writing, but also a lot of talking with people in the affected community. You meet with people all day long as a spokesperson representing the work you’re doing.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

When someone has a new idea and we have to flesh out the program. It’s interesting to see how a project idea comes to fruition in the real world.

If someone requests a grant, what does that process look like?

It varies based on who the grant is being written for. If it’s a corporation, they express that they’re interested in funding, and they have guidelines in place about doing so. We then see if any of our programs match their descriptions. If we find something that fits, then we work with other members of the organization to develop a budget and an idea. Then we write the grant that attempts to get them to agree that this is an opportunity and say, “yes, we should fund this.” We process the grant and get the program going. Later on, we have to report on that grant. This process could vary from grants that take an entire year to execute, to a one-page grant that someone is already interested in funding.

What did you find most helpful in college that prepared you for your job?

Internships. That is one of the most important things you can do as a college student because it gives you experience to talk about when you apply for jobs and go in for interviews. It also helps you determine if it’s something that you want to pursue as a career path. I always thought that I would be an editor. After volunteering at the non-profit organization in Philly, I saw that grant writing was something that I would actually enjoy doing as a career. In my position now, I still get to edit, it’s just a different type of editing.

 

Click here for more information about the internship opportunities offered in multiple departments, such as education and media, at WHYY.

—Brittany Swift ’20

Julia Clements, ’14, M.S. ’15: Fifth & Sixth Grade Teacher

Julia Clements, ’14, M.S. ’15, is a fifth and sixth grade teacher at St. Veronica Independence Mission School in Philadelphia.

Did you intend to become a teacher all along? How did you choose that route?

Yes, I intended to become a teacher. I had an amazing high school English teacher who inspired me to get my degree in secondary education. But the thing I love about my English major is that it leaves the door open to many other job opportunities as well. I know people who teach, but I also know people in finance who graduated with English degrees. You’re never stuck as an English major.

Do you have a teaching specialty?

I am teaching fifth and sixth grade English language arts. I am also the reading support teacher for grades kindergarten through sixth. I received my master’s in reading and English as a second language.

How did your major prepare you for life after college?

It gave me the necessary tools to become a more confident English teacher. St. Joe’s allowed me the experience to observe multiple classrooms in a variety of schools throughout my college career, which helped me pick and choose the different types of strategies I would like to implement within my own classroom.

What was the best piece of advice you received about postgrad life before you graduated?

Keep asking questions and, on top of that, learn as much as you possibly can.

What advice would you offer to first-year students considering the English major?

Make sure you time manage. There is a lot more work than high school, but it’s worth it. Also, don’t be afraid to speak your opinion in class. The best part of English courses are the discussions.

What advice about the work-a-day world would you give to a rising senior or recent graduate?

Not be too hard on yourself. You’re new in the professional world. There is so much to learn.

 

Saint Joseph’s students interested in observing or volunteering at St. Veronica or any of the other 14 Philadelphia-area Independence Mission Schools should contact IMS President Anne McGoldrick at (215) 225-1575. Background check and clearances are required.

—Tess Hill, ’18

Ryan Birchmeier, ’12: Public Affairs Associate

Ryan Birchmeier, ’12, is a public affairs associate at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Prior to this position, he served as communication and engagement manager in the Office of Innovation and Technology for the City of Philadelphia. At St. Joe’s, he was a member of the Men’s Track & Field Team and a tutor in the SJU Writing Center.

What do you do at the NYCEDC? 

The Public Affairs department manages external communications and handles media relations. We write press releases, media advisories and talking points, issue statements to reporters, and manage press events.

How did you end up working in government?

Randomly. I applied for nearly every job I could find after I graduated. The City of Philadelphia was the first place to offer me a job. I figured I would stay for six months and find something else. I never considered working in government, but it wound up being too interesting to leave. In government, and especially in political communications, you get to work on a wide range of projects and programs and meet people from every walk of life. The field has the same number of pros and cons as any other industry, but every day is interesting.

How did your English classes at St. Joe’s impact you as a writer?

It made me a better writer because it gave me an opportunity to actually write. I miss writing classes and one-off exercises that forced me to sit down and write something creative. It’s a hard thing to do, for me at least, without the structure of a class or prompt.

How did your English degree prepare you for working at the NYCEDC?

It gave me the confidence to be creative. I’ve had to learn as I go, just like in every job I’ve had. The English degree gave me the chance to read some of the world’s most brilliant people, and then experiment and tweak my own creative process. The experience gave me the confidence to think critically, quickly, and use my creativity to help solve problems. Thank goodness I didn’t spend four years looking at Excel worksheets. That wouldn’t have helped me.

Do you have any postgraduate advice for an English major?

Don’t listen to your parents’ friends. My parents were supportive of me being an English major, but other adults would say things like “What are you going to do with that?” I think there’s too much emphasis on practicality when it comes to education and line of work. Go do what energizes you. I accepted a random job with the City of Philadelphia because it seemed interesting. It wasn’t well planned or practical, but it led me down an interesting path.

 

The New York City Economic Development Corporation offers paid internships for college students. All opportunities are posted at the organization’s website.

—Jimmy Wyatt, ’17

Amy Banner, ’13: Fifth Grade Teacher

Amy Banner, 13, is a fifth grade teacher at Sacred Heart Grade School in Camden, New Jersey. While at St. Joe’s, she worked as a writing tutor in the SJU Writing Center.

What did you learn as an English major that prepared you for your career as a teacher?

Being an English major allowed me to master the skill of self-teaching. If there was an idea or concept I didn’t know or understand, I was prepared to read, research and learn all I could before relying on someone else to teach me. I think that is an extremely important skill as a young alumna and twentysomething. It is also a skill I promote in my classroom. If the students are curious about something, they have the resources and ability to read and learn more about it. I also worked in the Writing Center while at Saint Joseph’s University. Not only did this expose me to so many other content areas, but it prepared me to work with other tutors and also students of various writing levels and experiences. I think my work in the Writing Center most prepared me for my teaching career.

What has been your most memorable experience at SJU?

While at St. Joe’s I was really involved with Campus Ministry. My favorite experiences from that were leading an upperclassmen retreat and visiting the beautiful country of Ecuador twice with Summer Immersion.

What advice would you give to a freshman who is still undecided or thinking about majoring in English?

With an English major, you can’t go wrong. I went through a period of time searching for jobs outside the education world, and so many posts required applicants to have a solid foundation of reading, research and writing skills. It is also, simply put, an enjoyable major. I formed close bonds with many of my professors, enjoyed small, round-table-style classes and truly looked forward to attending.

What advice would you give to a rising or graduating senior?

My advice would be to enjoy every moment, to try new things and not to stress about the future. That first year out the door is a tough one, but it is the year in which I learned the most about myself. I changed jobs, moved and endured many challenges. Looking back, I think I handled myself well in the face of all of that and in part, that was due to the preparation I received, academically, socially and spiritually,  at St. Joe’s.

 

Sacred Heart Grade School welcomes volunteers. Please call (856) 963-1341 or visit the schoo’s website if you are interested in helping students at the school.

—Kiana Porter, ’19