Editor: Denise Ritter Company: The Villages Daily Sun # of years in editing: Almost a quarter of a century. That sounds more impressive than 24 years.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I was a naive kid when I started in journalism. I initially wanted to be a cops reporter, but then I discovered the role of copy editor. One skill set really has nothing to do with the other, but I was a weirdo. I fell in love with the copy desk. Copy editors also were layout editors, and I really enjoyed packaging the news for readers.
Newspapers were robust at the time, but I remember the warnings of professors who said they were circling the drain. I didn't believe them. I've had the pleasure of working in the industry during its heyday, but I've been saddened to witness its consistent dive.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I am a newspaper copy editor. Newsprint runs in my veins! I am fortunate to work for a growing newspaper that often boasts a 28-page A section alone.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I work on the night desk of The Villages Daily Sun. My evening starts off budgeting the A section, including picking what's the news of the day in the nation and world. Next, I edit the Local section and make sure it goes to the press on time. Then I edit Page One, including writing teases and massaging headlines. Once its been fine-tuned, a PDF of the page is sent to all managing editors for review. The rest of the night is spent editing copy, including sports, and monitoring page flow. I don't get to leave until the print shop calls to tell me that the presses have started rolling.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
I like playing with words and making a writer sound like the smartest person in the room.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
Filling news hole with stories that touch our particular audience. I work for a newspaper that caters to a retirement community. These are intelligent people who want to read balanced, unbiased reporting. After all, they can come to their own conclusions. We don't need to nudge them in any direction. They want the news of the day, plus they want to read stories that are relevant to their daily lives. I try to get out in the community and talk to residents. I ask them what kinds of stories they'd like to see in their newspaper.
What are you currently working on?
Cross-training. Although I have a background in page design, I've mostly been editing the past few years. Lately, I've been brushing up on my inDesign skills and producing print-worthy pages.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Do what you love. Don't let anyone convince you that you can't make a career out of editing.