By Bruce Claussen
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Omar Majzoub never quite knew what he wanted to do. He always had a love for sports, but didn’t know where that would lead for a career. When he was a 10th grader in high school, he found a passion for journalism.
Majzoub then pondered how sports and journalism could be combined for a job and later left his hometown of Houston to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he majored in journalism and had a minor in sports management.
Before graduating from college, Majzoub had several internships.
“When I was in college, I worked for scout.com covering SMU athletics and that led me to a job at the Dallas Morning News. I covered Dallas local sports and was an interning editor,” Majzoub, 24, said in a phone interview.
He also wrote for the university’s campus newspaper, the SMU Daily News.
After graduating from SMU in 2014, he landed a yearlong internship with the National
Football League’s Houston Texans. His internship was not exactly journalism, but he gained a new interest in that field when he interned.
“I interned for media relations, which was the other side of the coin, but really liked it. It was very hard work, but I realized it was something I wanted to do. I still used my writing skills, but it was a little bit different than writing for a major newspaper,” said Majzoub.
After a successful internship, Majzoub accepted a position as communications coordinator for the Texans.
Some of Majzoub’s jobs as communications coordinator, include writing
press releases, mass mailing and media schedules.
“My favorite part about working in sports is that everyone is a part of the team. Every member is valued. If I don’t do my part, my department can’t function. I like to compare it to the game Jenga, where if one part gets pulled it can all come down,” he said.
But, Majzoub said the job is really a stepping stone for his ultimate goal.
“In five years, I would love to be a manager of my own department for any team. In ten years, I would love to be a director of my own department and work closely with head management/coaches,” said Majzoub.
Majzoub said editing hasn’t taken a backseat in his sports communication job.
“I would say my ability to edit and catch mistakes is something I use every day,” he said. “I use editing skills every single day. It’s very important to take a step back and be accurate before first.”
Majzoub credited the journalism editing courses at SMU for his skills today.
He also said that media organizations at times feel the need to be first, rather than accurate, which is troubling.
“You could be right 100 times, but it’s the one time you’re wrong that you’ll always remember. The bigger the story, the bigger emphasis on taking your time, the bigger the potential mistake,” said Majzoub.
Majzoub said social media in daily life can be a challenge, but also be used for good. He recently posted on Twitter, “all thoughts and opinions are my own.”
But he soon realized the representation of the Houston Texans doesn’t go away. He also said that companies have to adapt to the pros and cons of reaching millions of consumers at a single time.
“The Houston Texans Twitter handle has 1.1 million followers. It is timely (and) relevant
and social media has made the ability to get news out there direct and accurate,” said
Reflecting on his short career, Majzoub said a recent college graduate can’t expect to get his or her dream job right out of college. But, he did have some advice. for college students interested in sports media relations.
“Get your foot in the door, have a professional somewhere that can vouch for your work,” said Majzoub.
He also said aspiring sports communications professionals may have to sacrifice some fun, social experiences for work obligations.
“I remember missing out on events my senior year in college because of work. It was missing those fun times that later on my boss would notice my time and commitment,” said Majzoub.
He said that starting at the bottom isn’t a bad thing.
“Your first job won’t always be amazing, but you have to swallow your pride. If I put down my head and work, I can go anywhere. It’s all about sacrifice,” he said.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Starting out at the Yellow Pages in Madison, Wisconsin, Mike Vandermuss would have never expected to get so far in his marketing career. Vandermuss, who co-founded Omaha Marketing Solutions in 2011, said he got his position by asking questions and building trust.
Omaha Marketing Solutions, which has seven employees in Omaha, works with businesses large and small, in every state.
Vandermuss and his team provide direct mail publications, website design, website development and Search Engine Optimization services. Vandermuss works directly with businesses and oversees all of his team’s projects. That’s where editing comes into his day-to-day work.
“Editing in this field is to do a lot of proofing and working with custom content writers,” Vandermuss said. “Editing their content is very important. It is especially critical to make sure there are no mistakes with our postcards, because once they go to print they’re final.”
The company is just as diligent when it comes to editing its increasing online work. While the company does build custom Facebook pages and ads for a few clients, Vandermuss said he believes that media had ran its course.
“We don’t do a whole lot with social media,” Vandermuss said. “But we have found that it’s an effective way to track what people are viewing and how long they’re on the website. We use this mainly for re-targeting.”
Even though social media didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on his advertising company, Vandermuss believes the internet in general was pivotal for the industry.
“Internet is super important,” Vandermuss said. “When I started out on Yellow Pages, it was completely unaffected by the internet. Online searches today have completely replaced it. That’s why we have SEO, to help businesses create a strong online presence.”
While the quality of its online work and postcards are the main reason customers keep coming back, Omaha Marketing Solutions also has a strong commitment to its customers, Vandermuss said.
“People will listen to you if they like you, but they will keep buying from you if they trust you,” Vandermuss said. “To gain this trust, you have to be honest when there’s mistakes and do exactly what you tell people you are going to do. There were people that didn’t buy from me for a year, but by coming back and staying persistent they felt valued and gave us a chance.”
Once a company gains customer trust, it is just as crucial to be honest, even when it may not benefit the business, he said.
Last year, the company mailed 30,000 postcards to the wrong list of households, which resulted in a loss of $15,000, Vandermuss said.
“It was a tough situation, but I knew I had to call them and be honest about what had happened," Vandermuss said. "The company was appreciative of what we did and (it) made our relationship stronger."
Omaha Marketing Solutions ended up designing that company’s website and campaign in return for the mix up. Vandermuss said he was taught to always put the customers’ needs above his.
“In this field, you need have a good understanding of the client’s need,” Vandermuss said. “Everyone is going to have a custom plan that they need, so the more you learn about them and questions you ask the better your service will be for them. It’s also good to ask questions afterwards to figure out what you could’ve done better.”
Vandermuss thought it was just as important to ask questions, even when he was working at Yellow Pages. He says it's helpful to find a mentor to answer all these questions.
“I surrounded myself with the most important people in that office,” Vandermuss said. “I would ride with them, listen to them and ask them questions. This helped me get ahead by learning from their experiences and mistakes.”
Despite the fact he didn’t go to college for marketing, he always knew that’s what he would end up doing. Vandermuss completed one year at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay doing general studies.
“I can’t picture myself doing anything other than communications and business,” Vandermuss said. “I like dealing with people and the interaction aspect of sales. I’ve always said it’s never about working. If you love what you’re doing, then it will never feel like work.”
By Amantha Dickman
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
At the beginning of each new workday, Michael Berens, 57, sets the goal of aiming to improve someone’s life.
As an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Berens has spent 33 years writing about criminal matters from attempts to make peace with members of the Taliban through the University of Nebraska-Omaha, to the Illinois State Police’s use of flawed population estimates to generate inaccurate crime rate reports for dozens of cities.
Despite the varying subject possibilities, Berens keeps finding himself drawn back to investigating health care justice and potential reforms.
“In my early career, I focused on criminal justice. All my projects revolved around criminal justice. At the Tribune they said they liked my project work, but they told me to try something outside of criminal justice, so I became very interested in healthcare justice,” said Berens, in a phone interview.
“You have victims and bad guys, big pharmaceutical companies. There’s so much to report on. Nothing is off-limits, but I keep coming back. It’s a topic that is so rich and relevant to our lives. It impacts all of us.”
Recently, Berens has focused on writing a new series called “Suffering in Secret” about the state health care system. In 2016, after a thorough investigation, Berens published multiple pieces detailing the flaws within the management of group homes for the disabled in the state of Illinois. Neglect and abuse noticeably became widespread because of a lack of resources and funding in Illinois, which struggles to maintain a stable financial ground, he said.
Throughout the investigation, Berens uncovered 1,311 cases of documented harm to clients. At least 42 deaths were reported as resulting of abuse or neglect. In many of these cases, injuries and deaths were results of untrained staff members who failed to adequately supervise their clients. Furthermore, some of these group homes were assigned to investigate themselves, which led to mistreatment being ignored.
In his fifth installment of the series, Berens calls for reforms to state health care policy, saying, “This is the moral test of government.”
Many seem to agree that reforms are required to make the state health care system safer.
“There already has been [change]. They’ve opened cases from our reporting and closed eight homes and are moving 45 people to other homes. New reforms and house hearings are next week. This has generated commentary from officials who agree with us,” said Berens in an interview in December 2016.
It is this call for reforms and dedication that has won Berens many awards. Though he claims the awards are simply an acknowledgement of good writing, more goes into a story than just words.
In 1995 and 2007, Berens was a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. In 2012, he finally won.
Berens also won the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism in 2010, which honors any newspaper or journalist for investigative reporting of stories that concern the public at a national level and aims to reform public ills.
The story that nominated him for the Worth Bingham Prize was a series called “Seniors for Sale.” Similar to “Suffering in Secret,” the story focused on how money and politics in the area overshadowed the proper care for elderly adults, leading to cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation in family homes.
Berens’ work shares a common theme: it’s an attempt to fix social ills and create a community where all have a chance to live healthy and happy lives. The desire to make the ideal community a reality has driven Berens to pursue justice for those who seek it.
His interest in seeking justice started early. As a college student, he pursued a degree in journalism at The Ohio State University. While there, he applied at two newspapers for the position of copy boy. The Columbus Dispatch hired him.
“I started at the bottom. I set up the Christmas tree and got the mail,” said Berens.
After a while, he got the break he needed to step foot into the world of journalism.
“After working as a copy boy, there was a chance to become the police beat reporter. They gave me the job and I worked there for the next 13 years. They had a policy saying they needed five years experience and I was lucky. They broke that rule and hired me. For me to start off at a big place like that was a dream come true and rare,” said Berens.
After those thirteen years, he transferred to the Chicago Tribune and then to The Seattle Times. In the end, he returned to the Chicago Tribune.
“Even though I left, the Chicago Tribune wanted me back,” said Berens. “The Tribune offered a chance to do high-quality journalism. Where I was in Seattle, was the best paper in the country for investigative journalism. But it was getting smaller and smaller all the time. Chicago represented the kind of journalism I wanted to do: My goal is change.”
By Kylie Kotouc
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
After 25 years in Los Angeles at Variety magazine, Kirstin Wilder found her heart is in the heartland.
Wilder, 49, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumna, returned to Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2016 after working what some journalists would call their dream job.
Wilder grew up in Lincoln and attended Southeast High school. She went on to study journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Wilder’s journey in Hollywood began when she was just 24 years old. A job advertisement was posted in the Los Angeles Times for a copy editor and Wilder responded. Wilder said she got her first call back, in part, because she went to UNL.
“The guy who was doing the interviews went the University of Missouri. My application stood out because I was from the Midwest. He saw I went to Lincoln so he knew kind of what he was getting by hiring me,” Wilder said.
Out of over 100 applicants, Wilder got the job and began her career at Variety in 1992.
She began as a copy editor, writing headlines and editing stories on the business of show business. She moved up in positions every few years.
Wilder says her dedication and Midwest work ethic helped her land promotions.
“I think that if you can stay true to who you are, can be honest and kind and polite ... that’s paid dividends to me over and over again,” she said.
Wilder said she continued to get more and more responsibility because she was so reliable.
“Truthfully, I don't think I'm the most amazing journalist there ever was. I'm just kinda rock solid and do what I say I'm going to do and follow through on it and that’s been huge for me,” Wilder said.
At one point in her job, she was was in charge of Hollywood party coverage. Wilder said it was one of the most fun jobs in her time at Variety. She attended award shows and red carpets and met celebrities such as George Clooney, Kerry Washington, Tina Fey and Tom Cruise.
Wilder continued to work her way to the top at Variety. Her last promotion was in November of 2015 when she became international editor. She traveled more and worked around the clock to meet deadlines around the world. After eight exhausting months, she found work elsewhere.
“For me that last promotion was just one to many,” Wilder said. “Hollywood is a hard place to be.”
At that time, UNL's Alumni Association was looking for a new director of publications. The previous director of publications, who held the position for 45 years, was retiring. Wilder started receiving messages from old college friends asking her if she saw the position was open. Wilder applied on a whim. Shortly after, Wilder was offered the position.
“This job is fun too,” Wilder said.
Now, Wilder is editor-in-chief of Nebraska Magazine, a magazine for Nebraska alumni, which comes out quarterly.
“It’s is nice to be back here and do journalism about something I’m passionate about,” Wilder said.
She decided one of her first tasks would be revamping the design of the magazine. Wilder is also adjusting to the change in audience from a broad Hollywood audience to a more personal one in Nebraska, where her family, friends and alumnae community are her readers.
Wilder’s advice to all journalism students is to say yes.
“It is really important to do everything and to try everything,” Wilder said.
Wilder loves being back in Lincoln, where she lives close to her sister and can visit her mom whenever she wants. She is also spending more time with her husband and daughters. And, driving here is easier.
“I also love that there is relatively no traffic to speak of versus the mind-blowing traffic jams I would sit in daily on the freeways of Los Angeles,” Wilder said.
By Zoe Norris
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Megan Smith has found that getting experience in multiple areas of journalism will help you in the long run.
Smith is a 27-year-old multimedia journalist from Orlando, Florida. Smith works as video journalist at the Omaha World-Herald. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 2012 with a degree in journalism, and a focus in photography. She started off her career in journalism with multiple internships and landed a job at The Jackson Sun, which is in Jackson, Tennessee.
Smith got to try a little bit of everything at The Jackson Sun. The paper was small, so she learned a lot. She tried her hand in writing, photography, video journalism, sports and breaking news. She also worked on some personal projects at the same time.
While she was on the staff at The Jackson Sun, Smith worked on one of the most interesting stories of her career.
Every year, The Jackson Sun does a Brighter Christmas fundraiser. The Brighter Christmas fundraiser helps local families in need. In 2014, Smith worked on a Brighter Christmas story that covered a mom who had cancer and was given only ten months to live. Smith took the photos and video for the story. In the interview, the mom said how much she loved country singer Martina McBride and wanted to meet her. The Jackson Sun reached out to McBride and made it happen. Smith found that it is not all about breaking the big stories, but about the ones that make you feel good.
Smith made the jump to the Omaha World-Herald after working at The Jackson Sun. She started working at the Omaha World-Herald in August 2015. She said she wanted to work at the Omaha World-Herald because it has a good reputation and a good staff.
“I could focus on projects and put a lot more thought and effort into an assignment here,” Smith said.
Smith said every day at the Omaha World-Herald is different.
She is on a flex schedule in the fall and on-call most of the time. During the fall, she works on football stories and videos for Husker football games, which takes up a large part of her day.
Using social media plays a big role in her job and everyday life, she said.
“I use social media every day. Even if I am not working, I will still tweet the biggest story that day,” Smith said, in a phone interview.
Smith said she is part of the “new generation of journalism," meaning tweeting and getting articles and photos online takes precedent over print.
Smith uses her personal social media accounts such as Twitter to tweet news from the Omaha World-Herald and retweet articles from other news outlets.
Smith works on personal projects when she has the time. She has her own website, blog and multiple social media accounts. She often posts her work on social media.
Smith said she learned valuable journalism skills, such as reporting, while working at a smaller newspaper. She said the journalism skills she got at The Jackson Sun got her to where she is today.
By Nicole Hilder
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Omaha native Dan Sullivan, 65, has seen the journalism world change during his time at the Omaha World-Herald.
Sullivan earned his Journalism degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1973. He then attended Creighton University and earned his law degree in 1977.
He started as a copy editor in 1976 and has worked his way up to book editor. His other past positions include news editor, night sports editor, sports assignment editor, deputy business editor and national editor. Out of the seven different positions he’s held at the World-Herald, book editor is his favorite.
“I would say my job might be the envy for a lot of people in the newsroom,” Sullivan said, “but they don’t realize how much goes into it.”
The World-Herald publishes books about Nebraska football, Creighton basketball and other topics.
For all the books Sullivan works on, he uses the World-Herald’s archives and library system.
“Going through them is probably the best part of my job,” he said. “Seeing how things were viewed at the time they actually happened as opposed to how they’re viewed decades later, it’s kind of interesting.”
Sullivan’s favorite project he’s worked on is At War at Home: The Cold War.
Over 200 veterans sent in items to put in the book.
The book wasn’t a good seller, Sullivan said. Many people didn’t care about what veterans of that era had to say because they thought the United States lost those wars, he said.
However, it was a success for Sullivan. He gained more understanding about the war, which didn’t totally make sense to him at the time it was happening.
“It was a really rewarding experience,” Sullivan said.
During the making of Devaney: Birth of a Dynasty, reporter Henry Cordes interviewed former players and coaches.
“In the background, I was doing research, reading a lot of newspapers about (Devaney’s) ten years coaching,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan works with reporters as they write their books and edits once they're finished. Newsroom staff members write, edit and proof the books on top of their normal work.
It’s becoming more difficult for Sullivan to find people to help with book projects because the World-Herald staff is shrinking.
“It’s been hard to replace editors because everyone has given up on the field,” Sullivan said.
However, Sullivan thinks editing jobs are still going to be needed, but not in the traditional way.
I think it’s going to continue to be a good job in the sense that you’re going to be needed,” he said. “But I’m not sure who you’re going to work for, what the pay is going to be.”
Now, if someone wants to tell a story, they can just produce it themselves.
“You really see that in politics now,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan attributes this year’s presidential election as the kick starter of a critical change in independent journalism.
“It’s been a long time coming, but this is a pivotal point,” he said. “What I see happening on the broad scale of journalism is that no one really wants anymore to have an independent source of news.”
Editors will start editing things more to the way people want it to be told. They’ll start shaping facts and presenting facts to how people want to read them, he said.
Like newspapers, the book industry isn’t doing well.
“I think the general public thinks ‘I can write this great book and get it published and be a famous author,’” Sullivan said. “That world doesn’t really exist anymore.”
New authors self-publish through companies such as Amazon, market their book, gain a following on social media and then a book publisher picks up their book.
It’s difficult to say what the future of editing in the newspaper world is, but there will continue to be editing jobs, he said.
Some World-Herald employees, these days, leave to pursue a career in public relations or advertising.
“People who did that 20 or 30 years ago would be sell outs. They’d be cursed,” Sullivan said.
Now with the uncertainty of the industry, some journalists' move away from print is understandable.
Easy access to the internet allows for easy publication. Because companies aren’t seeking out newspapers and TV anymore, they write and distribute stories on their own.
More companies are now expanding their public relations and marketing teams because of increased use of social media platforms and self-publishing. However, this does not mean editing isn’t important, Sullivan said.
“In terms of editing, that’s still going to be a job but you’re not going to be an independent editor,” Sullivan said. “Those jobs are going to be very rare.”
By Stephanie Paul
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Danny Gawlowski, 35, found fulfillment in his life when he became director of digital imagery and innovation for The Seattle Times.
“As a photographer there is a direct satisfaction by creating your own work, but as an editor you get a satisfaction of fulfillment by the work of others,” Gawlowski said in a phone interview.
Before Gawlowski was the director of digital imagery and innovation, he worked for nine years as a photographer.
One of his first internships was at The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also interned at The Dallas Morning News, Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, Evansville Courier & Press and The Plain Dealer.
After graduating in 2004 from Ball State University with his bachelor’s in journalism and anthropology, Gawlowski became a freelance photojournalist and then a staff photojournalist at The Bellingham Herald in Washington.
While working at The Bellingham Herald he attended the Seattle Film Institute and studied in the documentary filmmaking program.
He later joined The Seattle Times, where he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 and 2015.
He won the first Pulitzer Prize in 2010 in the breaking news category, for his role in the staff reporting of the Lakewood police killings. He received a second Pulitzer in 2015, also in the breaking news category, for team coverage of a 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington.
Gawlowski says it's best to be accurate, not necesssarily first, with the news.
“It's better to be fast and right than being just fast,” said Gawlowski.
Gawlowski also volunteers for the Kalish. Now, Gawlowski is the director of the five-day-workshop. As the director of the workshop, he is trying to get new sponsorship and a curriculum for next year's Kalish.
“The Kalish helped me understand that I could become a editor,” said Gawlowski.
As an editor, Gawlowski makes judgment calls almost daily, but one of the most memorable was when one of his staff members came up to him to talk about a climate change story he was working on.
Gawlowski saw the potential that the story could have, so he got the photojournalist training and the equipment he needed to make the story a success. The project, published in 2014, won the Alfred du-Pont Award and a Emmy Award nomination.
Gawlowski became a journalist to tell other people’s stories, he said.
“I really like the ability to inform people and I really am committed on telling the truth,” said Gawlowski.
After being in the journalism field for over 16 years, Gawlowski reflected on the changing face of journalism.
“It took a long time for newspapers to see themselves as a news organization. I think finally now our news organizations are now just catching up to where people’s news consumption habits are, but we still have a ways to go,” said Gawlowski.
With today's news consumption habits, a story can pop up on someone's phone or social media any time of the day, which keeps journalists on their toes. Because social media is so popular for news, Gawlowski said, “News is more of a conversation now than a lecture.”
Being a journalist in the social media age has made Gawlowski appreciate social media. He uses social media to listen to what people have to say. The Seattle Times uses social media to deliver its stories, which is important, he said.
“We (as journalists) expect we can just put up our stories on our websites and somehow people are supposed to just come and find the stories," he said.
He said newspapers can deliver stories directly to readers now. This is particularly important for niche stories that affect groups of people who don't typically visit The Seattle Times site on a daily basis, he said.
For the next generation of journalists coming out of college, Gawlowski wants to remind them that, “if you are never failing, then you are never moving at all.”
By Andrea Wach
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Craig Chandler has built his ethical base from years of experience as a photographer and editor.
Throughout Chandler’s career, he has strived for integrity and trust in all aspects of his work.
“A photo can be taken many different ways. A photographer needs to be honest with him or herself down every road,” Chandler said in an interview at the University Communication building, where he works as the director of photography for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln University Communication.
Chandler said his key to success is having an ethical baseline in all aspects of his life.
“Trust is a big part of journalism. It comes in every area of our work," he said. "When people ask me to take a photo, they know I’m going to make a decent picture of them. If I want them to stand in water up to their waist, I can talk them into it. They will do slightly odd things because of their trust in me.”
Chandler, 57, said trust played a major role in reporting the Von Muar shooting in Omaha nine years ago when Chandler was on staff at the Omaha World-Herald. A man with a rifle opened fire at an Omaha shopping mall, killing eight and then himself.
The call came on the scanner and the staff photograhpers dropped what they were doing. Chandler was on the radio within seconds and had six photographers inside the parking lot before police shut access down. His staff captured photos of individuals walking out with their hands up.
“My staff was good, and I knew what they could do. I had trust in them, and they had trust in me,” Chandler said. “We had photos everyone wanted. They ended up on front pages across the nation. Journalistically, we did what we were supposed to do.”
During Chandler’s time at the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, in 2001, National Guard troops were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, shortly after the 9/11 terror attack.
“It was very hush hush,” said Chandler.
Six months after troops were sent in, the media was allowed to photograph the base.
Chandler said the media were allowed to go up to a certain line, but no further. This created the same picture from the same spot for months as media buses came in and out of the base.
When Chandler did visit the base, he and his reporter developed a relationship with an Army public information officer, and eventually were allowed to spend three hours in the tents taking photos of troops.
In the tents, the troops had photos of their family and friends hung up, almost in a summer camp fashion. The photos Chandler captured were published so the newspaper’s readers, which included the families whose loves ones were serving the country, could see and experience the troop’s mission.
“We weren’t demanding that we could get in,” Chandler said, “but we kept talking to people, finding other people and building relationships to get those photos for the family members.”
Chandler said relationship building is essential in his work and advises photographers to build a reputation of trust and integrity.
“Keep pushing. Be relentless. Don’t let people tell you what you can or can’t do,” Chandler said. “Be open to editing, but if it’s the right thing keep pushing for it.”
Chandler started his career at Kansas State University in 1978, pursuing a degree in Journalism while working for the college newspaper and interning in the winter and summer.
As a freshman, he was a stringer for United Press International, earning $15 a photo.
In 1979, he placed ninth in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program. Then in 1981, he placed third in the College Photographer of the Year contest sponsored by the University of Missouri.
In 1981, Chandler traveled Kansas as a staff photographer and pursued design and picture editing. In 1988, he joined the the San Antonio Express-News as an assistant picture editor.
In 1989, he was hired as photo and graphic editor at the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, overseeing a staff of four and various interns.
Fourteen years later, Chandler was hired at the Omaha World-Herald, where ten photographers covered news across the state every day. He worked at the World-Herald for five years as a photo and graphics editor, before switching jobs again.
“I love that I am back to taking pictures all the time. The best part of my job is that every day is different,” Chandler said.
Chandler takes photos at UNL events across all campuses. He challenges other photographers to look for the little moments, keep eyes on what's happening, try new angles and be creative and passionate.
“Always have your camera on you, and always be willing to stop and shoot,” Chandler said.
By Sydney Paulak
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Leah Bercerra, 27, believes that having a wide range of skills is the key to being competitive in journalism, especially when it comes to technology and social media.
Becerra, a digital editor at The Kansas City Star, has been laid-off before, so she understands the turbulent industry and the need to stand out.
“I got a job after I was laid-off really quickly and I was hired because of those skills,” she said.
Bercerra graduated from the University of Missouri in 2012 with a degree in journalism and a multimedia emphasis. She learned to work with photos, videos and coding. She found the coding to be particularly useful.
“Acquiring those skills was the single most important decision and thing I have ever done for myself,” she said.
Becerra took a basic coding class in college.
“I took the class because I was already very comfortable with computers and it seemed natural to learn the skill,” she said. “It also seemed like a good idea because of how important web presence is for publications these days.”
The rest of her skills have been self-taught, but she said it would not have been possible without learning the basics of coding first.
Becerra landed her first job working as a graphics reporter at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Missouri. There she helped create a database of city methamphetamine labs that had been located and which ones had been cleaned up.
From there, she went to the Omaha World-Herald as a web editor and got to work on more coding projects. Then she moved on to be a content producer for Newsy, an online video news source. She created videos about technology and business news.
Becerra took everything she learned and applied it to her job as a digital editor at The Kansas City Star. She posts stories to the newspaper website, adds photos and videos and posts to social media.
She says the best part of her the job is that every day is different.
“I might be working on a project one day, social media another and even stories from time to time,” she said.
Working with social media and the 24/7 news cycle has also been a new challenge.
Becerra says that getting the story out quickly is the goal, but accuracy and ethics always come first.
“We are always careful to get the story accurate even over getting it first," she said.
Becerra has had to judge the legitimacy of rumors before. One time her publication was covering a breaking story about a chemical leak from a business. The leak had caused air pollution in the area. The publication received a rumor that 10 people were dead. This information did not seem legitimate or plausible, so Becerra and her team chose not to run the rumor. It was later proven false.
Social media intensifies issues caused by false information and constant news, she said.
“Social media has forced us to have a stricter view on news feed. It forces us to compete with people who aren’t traditional news,” says Becerra.
The average citizen could create a false social media post based off rumors because he or she doesn’t have the same standards or reputation as a media outlet, she said.
An example Becerra gave is a local Twitter account in Omaha. A man with a police radio tweets the calls he overhears. He is not thinking about accuracy; he just reports. This could lead to some potentially false or misleading information being shared, she said.
These news trends in the world of journalism require young people entering the field to be able to adapt, she said.
If Becerra could give advice to young journalists, she would encourage them to broaden their horizons and learn new skills. She also encourages networking while still in college.
“It helped me find jobs and helped me talk about projects I’m working on,” she says. “If you know someone that specializes in something, it helps you out, especially with the web.”
By Bo Prater
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
After 16 years as a reporter for the Journal Star, Brian Rosenthal decided to jump ship and try his hand writing for Husker athletics for the universtiy, not the newspaper.
Rosenthal left the Journal Star this year to take the first-ever full-time sports writing position for Nebraska Athletics.
Rosenthal likes the security and lower stress levels working for the university. He also gets to work first hand with Husker athletes and coaches. Randy York, longtime Husker writer, wrote a story on why Rosenthal was a great fit for the position, citing Rosenthal's experience. He's taught at Hastings College and collaborated on a sports writing textbook.
The new transition has perks, Rosenthal said. For one, since he works within the university,
“the access is much better."
If he is working on a story about a player or coach, his access makes it a lot easier to follow up with an individual or to get any questions answered. The new job is also less stressful. He gets to look for and write about the stories he enjoys, and believes his readers will too.
“Readers enjoy human-interest stories,” said Rosenthal.
The Husker writer recently wrote two stories on walk-ons Tanner Zlab and Samuel Hahn. Rosenthal said it's nice to focus on lesser-known players sometimes.
Rosenthal saw a lot of change during his 16 years at the Journal Star, and he continues to see the communications landscape change.
“Its been the biggest change in my career,” said Rosenthal.
Although the change has its positives, some negatives have come along the way too. In today’s sports world, it is common for errors to happen more frequently than in the past, he said.
“Millennials want information now, which leads to bad judgement calls, errors”, said Rosenthal. “Misspelled names and wrong scores have become more common than in the past.”
On the flipside, Rosenthal can reach more people with social media than in the past.
For example, the Nebraska Huskers Facebook page has taken advantage of the new live video chat. Rosenthal uses it to discuss weekly matchups and answer any questions that followers post on the video.
Rosenthal, 44, has put a lot of time and work in to get where he is today. He graduated from Nemaha Valley High School in Nebraska. Then, he graduated from Hastings College with a communications degree.
He worked for several radio stations including the KNCY-AM in Nebraska City, KHAS-AM in Hastings and the Hastings College campus radio station KFKX-FM. Rosenthal spent three years at the York News-Times and then three years in Hutchinson, Kansas, covering the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team.
In 2001, Rosenthal made his transition to the Journal Star. At the Journal Star, Rosenthal covered Nebraska football along with Nebraska men’s and women’s basketball.
“Make yourself marketable, and have a wide interest,” Rosenthal said of how to succeed at a newspaper.
For someone with interest in communications, whether it’s writing, reporting or editing, Rosenthal pitched some advice.
“Consult people in the field, and make yourself known,” Rosenthal said.
A note about the content: This site showcases the final projects of University of Nebraska-Lincoln editing students. Each semester, students pick a journalist or communications professional to profile. This is their work.
This is me. I run this site.