By Rebecca Schrack
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For Karen Windle the journalism industry is more than editing and designing - it is a place full of passion, versatility and nobility. With nearly 19 years of experience, Windle still feels a rush when she creates an outstanding page or headline.
“All headlines (can be) good, but sometimes they’re inspired,” said Windle, 40, in an interview in Gretna.
Windle’s job at the Omaha World-Herald applies everything that she’s learned the last 19 years. She designs the Midlands section four nights a week and the 1A page once a week and regularly fills in for the copy desk chief.
The most enjoyable and hardest part of Windle’s position is the Midlands section. She writes headlines, reads stories and designs the section. The constantly moving pieces keep her on her toes.
Windle sees herself at the World-Herald long term and loves the focus the paper has on quality.
“I want the industry to survive. It’s something I really believe in, especially with the political climate right now. It’s important now more than ever for people to be able to tell the truth about what’s happening in the world,” said Windle. “It’s a pretty noble profession.”
This passion to create had been calling Windle’s name her entire life, but she didn’t choose it as a career path until midway through college.
“One day I woke up and said, you know what, I’m going to be a journalist,” she said.
Windle admits that her career choice wasn’t completely out of the blue. She worked on the student newspaper throughout college and has always written about her experiences, which she keeps in files at home.
“When I was a kid I would paste together my own little newspaper. I didn’t grow up my whole life wanting to be a journalist, but it’s a little more realistic than being an astronaut. I don’t really even like flying,” she said.
After graduating from The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, with a degree in English literature, Windle began working as a news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune, where she did secretarial work and wrote obituaries. What she thought would be the beginning of a career path focused on writing quickly shifted.
“After a year, I was working as a copy editor and was then called upon to design,” said Windle.
Windle’s attitude paid off. Over the course of nearly seven years, her skill set expanded and helped her land a copy editing and design job at the Lincoln Journal Star.
At the Journal Star, Windle designed pages and used her experiences to remain a valuable employee.
“Because I was a person with a copy editing background, I would rewrite headlines,” said Windle. “The more you know about different jobs the more valuable you are as a journalist.”
When asked what she was most proud of during her time at the Journal Star, Windle smiled and reminisced for a moment. She spoke of the amazing opportunity she’d had to train interns, including one named Brady Jones. He went on to work as an assistant professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia and is now director of communications at Lyman-Richey Corporation in Omaha.
“It makes me proud that I may not have been a huge influence on them, but at some point shared some sort of insight about the industry that they took to heart,” said Windle. “I’m really proud of the relationships I’ve made over the years.”
During the fall of 2016, after a decade of working at the Journal Star, Windle was laid off. The Journal Star had begun its transition from an in-house design center to design hubs located in Indiana and Wisconsin. When Windle was offered a re-located design position, she declined.
Windle was thrown back into the application process and the world had shifted. The paper resume world had evolved into an expansive online one. She didn’t let the change intimidate her and quickly landed a job with the World-Herald.
Windle stresses the importance of every aspect of the journalism industry. She believes that nobility and truth are not solely a reporter’s job, but that it is each journalist’s responsibility.
She advises aspiring journalists to remain positive and to not be discouraged by obstacles that will come their way.
“It’s hard in the industry. It’s hard in life in general. Just try to smile and get through it.”
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.