Ask A Pro
Deputy managing editor
Examples of Work
Full-page design for beginning of 2000
Full-page design on campaign paraphernalia
deputy managing editor
Knight Ridder/Tribune Special Sections
As an editor and designer, how do you stay plugged in to what appeals to young people?
I read — a lot. Part of my job at KRT involves editing articles on teen topics, so I read everything from Newsweek to People to Seventeen. I pay attention to the ads; some have great design. (And some don't — you can learn from those, too.) I also talk to students a lot, which is the best way to figure out what's on their minds. And I check out a lot of Web sites for young people.
In October 2000, I went to the annual Youth Editors Association of America conference, and a panel of teens talked about what they want to read and how they think newspapers should be designed. I took a lot of notes!
Overall I think what appeals to young people is the same thing that appeals to readers of all ages: good stories about real people.
How did you train for your job?
I got my start in journalism at Winter Park High School in Florida, where I wrote and edited for the school newspaper. (Go Wildcats!) I went on to be editor of my community college paper while working almost full time for the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel. When I transferred to the University of Florida, I got at job as a layout and copy editor at the local paper (The Sun in Gainesville) thanks to a recommendation from an editor at the Sentinel.
Making key contacts, working hard, and getting lots of hands-on experience while in high school and college definitely helped me land my first job as a copy editor. But my training hardly stopped there. I was interested in newspaper design and so I picked the paper's best as mentors and learned from them. I critiqued my work, too, which is a great way to learn. And I went to conferences and studied the Society of News Design annuals, which are full of design ideas.
Is it hard to manage people? A lot of people going into journalism don't really consider the possibility that they'll ever be supervising their colleagues.
It can be hard to manage people; I'm lucky right now because I have a strong staff of designers.
I recently spoke to a group of college students and gave them my top 10 tips for managing others, including "don’t treat everyone the same," "expect criticism" and "get over yourself." Check out the link to the file I passed out at the conference. I got a lot of good feedback from students.
Is it hard working on a deadline?
Not now. I'm used to it, and it's just part of the job. If you don't like deadlines, you're in the wrong business. That's not to say that I don't feel a lot of pressure when I have to crank through a project. But I also get a rush from that. It's sometimes amazing what can be accomplished under a tight time constraint.
What kind of computer programs do you use at work and how do they compare to the way you approached your work, say, five years ago?
I use QuarkXPress, Illustrator, FreeHand and Photoshop every day for design, the same programs I was using five years ago. The difference is that the programs are a bit more sophisticated today. And I'm better at using them because I have to answer my staff's questions about using the programs.
Before I left the Orlando Sentinel, I was designing pages on its CCI pagination system, a big switch from drawing layouts by hand and having them pasted up by compositors.
KRT posts all its pages on the Internet (http://www.krtdirect.com/onepages/) for newspapers to buy, so I use programs like BBEdit to do html coding. Five years ago, I certainly wasn't doing that.
Outside of newspapers, what do you read for fun and to get ideas?
I read the mags I already mentioned and lots of books. I just finished the Harry Potter series because I had to know what the fuss was all about. They were great! Before that, I read "A Dog's Life" by Peter Mayle and “The Ladies’ Man” by Elinor Lipman. Some of my all-time favorite reads are "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse, "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole and "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. If you haven't read them, you should.
What advice do you have for teens interested in working as a page designer and editor?
Get a lot of experience. Critique your own work. Read. Know your AP Stylebook.
Beyond that, if you want to be an editor, get to know good writers — or at least get to know good writing. I was fortunate because I worked with some of the Sentinel's best when I was assistant editor of its Sunday magazine. Long before I'd edit their mag pieces, I'd go back in the archives and read some of their old stories. It helped me become familiar with each writer's voice, and then I'd try to bring out that voice in the piece I was editing. My husband also is a writer, and I've learned a lot from him. I can't stress enough the importance of reading newspapers. If you don't like your hometown paper, subscribe to The New York Times or The Washington Post. You'll find lots of good writing in those publications.
If you want to be a newspaper designer, get the basics down before trying more sophisticated designs. Keep tearsheets of design you like. I have a file on my desk labeled "ideas." It's full of good stuff that I've ripped out of magazines and newspapers. I also write down notes if I see something clever that might inspire me later. Some of my favorite typography appears on the screen during a film's opening credits.