From intern to editor

Busy does not even describe my schedule the past few weeks.

After I was selected as editor, I immediately started putting together my staff and working on issues for the Alligator. Now the end of my internship and the beginning of my editorship seem blended together in my memory.

Still, I’ll try and give an overview of the lessons I learned in Tampa and the lessons I’m learning in Gainesville.

The Tampa Tribune

I can’t really say I’m a better writer than I was at the beginning of the summer, but I still learned so much (and so much more than just the blog post experience).

During the summer, I learned different methods of interviewing sources from the experienced beat reporters who sat around me. I also got some of the best journalism advice during my last days.

I’m just going to list my favorite advice here:

  • “Learn to work for yourself and not for anyone else. If you don’t, you’ll drive yourself crazy.” –Emily Seawell, online producer/copy editor
  • “You need to read more Hemingway; you need to learn to say things without saying them. You’re writing too much and trying too hard.” -Copy editor from the CND (this was the best writing advice I’ve gotten in about a year).
  • “Get used to bad editors. For every 10 editors you have, you’ll be lucky to get one good one.” -Metro desk reporter
  • “Don’t expect nurturing or praise when you’re in the real world. Do your job well because you should.” -Another metro reporter
  • Learn to keep your head up when newsroom morale is low. You’ll forget why you love journalism otherwise. -I got this from a few people
  • Limit the amount of time you talk and read about layoffs and the scariness of the industry. You won’t be able to keep going every day if you don’t. -I picked this up from Mary Shedden, health reporter

The Alligator

When I started, I was confronted with a broken staff. My managing editors (Hilary Lehman and Ken Schwencke) and I spent our first week back in Gainesville meeting with members of every desk to assess their needs and hear what they wanted from us.

I think taking the extra time to come up with gameplans with the section editors really helped us earn some street cred with them early on. It showed them we cared to work with them to get their goals accomplished, so long as we worked within the constraints of their lives outside of the job, i.e. class, tests, boyfriends/girlfriends, family events, etc.

We’ve gotten the ball rolling on a lot of what we discussed, including starting a discussion about a new content management system. I already feel like Hilary, Ken and I have done so much, which gets me excited to find out where we’ll be at the end of the semester. I think our being excited and involved really makes the staff feel like they’re a part of something truly great.

I really feel like I was just born for this job. I like managing people and brainstorming with all the brilliant people who work here.

And following editors who haven’t been especially conscientious about the way they interact with the staff, I make sure to check myself before I wreck myself. This newsroom has always been a haven for me, and it would kill me to know I ruined that for someone else.

For example, the other night, I know I stepped over the line and snapped at a section editor for a late story, which I shouldn’t have done. Late stories happen. We didn’t miss deadline. The world was still intact. After I was done editing pages and talking over the night’s events with Hilary, I went and apologized. We hugged it out, and all was well.

I think that event really sums up why I love this newsroom and how much I love this job. At the end of the day, we’re all friends — regardless of deadlines or mistakes.

3 Responses to From intern to editor

  1. Greg Linch says:

    What did you guys discuss regarding the CMS?

  2. We’re trying to convince our administration that we need a new CMS and considering our prospects. We’re looking for solutions that would gracefully handle multimedia, advertising and classifieds.

  3. […] The Independent Florida Alligator Editor Jessica DaSilva writes about her first month on the job. “When I started, I was confronted with a broken staff. My managing editors (Hilary Lehman and Ken Schwencke) and I spent our first week back in Gainesville meeting with members of every desk to assess their needs and hear what they wanted from us. … I really feel like I was just born for this job. I like managing people and brainstorming with all t…“ […]

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