Saturday, September 06, 2008

Former Student Talks About His Job

Dr. Rodgers,

How are you doing? I hope all is well as the new semester begins.

I just wanted to let you know that I am now officially a member of the editorial team. I watch baseball games and produce all the online content surrounding them.

I know this is both unsolicited and perhaps not helpful, but I was asked to make a humorous introduction to the online world to present before a journalism class recently -- and I thought I would send you the short list I developed as well. It just lays out a few points regarding things that I didn't really know coming into the job that I thought would be really helpful for students getting ready for their first job online.

A Copyeditor’s guide to the Internet
The “How to watch baseball all day and get paid handsomely (well, not really) for it” Guide

  1. The new job title is “editorial producer.” It means little else than the Internet is too cool to have “copyeditors,” but you might win a few points with a recruiter if you know it.
  2. Editing a story is called “producing” it, and putting it onto the Internet is called “sending it live.”
  3. Learn how to write grabbing subheds. That’s right, everything gets a subhed. Some tips: Use present tense, use a clever headline and put the bland news in the subhed.
  4. The hours are horrible, and there’s no way around it. Be prepared to work from sundown until sunrise. Find friends that like to go out on Monday.
  5. Learn to edit and produce flawless work faster than you thought was fast. The motto in the online world is “send it live now, get it right later.” If you can send it live and get it right, someone might actually tell you you’re doing a great job. You’ll be amazed at how fast things get produced.
  6. Morale in the world of journalism is low. Don’t expect box seats at the Yankees game for a corporate outing anytime soon, or a raise.
  7. Don’t think because you’re an editor you won’t have to write. You may be called upon to write a couple grafs for a breaking story at any moment, and you’d better produce something that doesn’t embarrass you. Stick to the basics, but don’t think you won’t be writing.
  8. Your work will appear instantly, so be sure it’s good. Instead of waiting for tomorrow’s paper, you will have your headlines and other work displayed prominently before you head home. Be sure to save any clips you want that moment, because things change very quickly and can disappear.
  9. You will produce photo captions, write teasers, put together online packages and other items that involve short, succinct writing – but it’s the first thing anyone sees. You’re producing the full product now, not just writing headlines and designing, and your work is the grabber for the reader more than ever.
  10. Learn basic HTML, it’s all you need.
  11. Enjoy not having to wear anything that resembles a suit to work, and not having to fight traffic to get to and from work.