By Mack Campbell
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Tinka Davi isn’t ready to give up journalism.
At 77 years old, the retired special sections editor for The Sacramento Bee is writing stories – this time as a freelance reporter and editor.
Davi said she has a strong passion for sharing stories.
“I’m constantly learning. People are interesting,” Davi, who lives in Folsom, California, said in a phone interview.
As a freelancer, things have slowed. Weeks are less packed with interviews and stories, she said. But, she writes about things she is passionate about and doesn’t turn down stories.
Davi was the editor of special sections at The Sacramento Bee, where she worked for 18 years. Before she retired in 2000, she led a team of six people who worked for sections that covered real estate, interior design, home shows and other topics. They produced copy and layouts for up to six sections a week and worked on annual dining guides, gift guides, State Fair sections, auto shows and sections for other annual events.
Davi said she enjoyed the less hectic schedule of special sections because she didn’t have daily deadlines like the rest of the newsroom.
Davi said she didn’t face too many challenges as editor. She had a hard-working staff who rarely made mistakes.
Davi said she has always had a passion for writing, but she did not expect to work for a newspaper.
As a child, she seemed destined for a job in print. Her mother would put copy paper in manila folders and Davi would write and illustrate books. As a young adult, she listened to the radio and took notes as if she were a reporter. She developed basic skills in journalism class in high school.
It wasn’t until college that she took the plunge.
A teaching assistant at the University of California, Berkeley recommended she apply for a job at the Hayward Daily Review in Hayward, California.
“I interviewed for it and got the job,” she said.
Davi loves seeing her writing published and how stories affect people. She still sends copies of her stories to relatives.
She has been impacted by many stories she’s written. She is very proud of a story that ran in the California newspaper the Press Tribune in 2012 in which she wrote about A Touch of Understanding, an organization that runs disability awareness programs for young people.
Davi said the hardest part about being a journalist is waiting for call backs. When a source won’t call a reporter back, the reporter risks missing a deadline.
She said journalism has changed since she graduated from college. Journalists have to be more assertive today, she said.
One pet peeve she has is the overuse of adjectives. Reporters rarely would write “the horrific accident” or “the beautiful garden." It was up to readers, through examining pictures and the article, to form those opinions, she said.
One piece of advice Davi has for students seeking jobs in journalism is: Don’t work for free. She believes, although experience is important, writers deserve to be paid for their work.
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.
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