The obvious and important role of an editor is to edit stories, photos and other media for spelling, grammar and content before it is published. However, editing is more than just commenting on a Google document or writing notes on a piece of paper, it is also about conducting meaningful conversations with the staff in order to help them truly understand what it means to write a good story and be a strong journalist.
For this reason, I always follow up my comments on a sheet of paper or online with a face-to-face discussion about any serious edits that need to be made to a story. I also always get a second and, if possible, third set of eyes to look over any story I edit to ensure that we do not miss blatant errors before publishing. The most important thing I look for in every piece that is shared with me is whether or not it tells a story and contains depth. If more information was needed, I gave writers more direction regarding who and what they might ask and why it is important that they make the edits. Most importantly, I always provided tips as to what they might improve on in their news gathering process for the next story because it is my responsibility as an editor to give the staff the tools they need to improve as journalists.
For issue three of the 2016-17 Eagle Eye, a staff member wrote a recap of the men’s varsity basketball team’s season as well as how injuries challenged the team to succeed. At this point my confidence in editing was not very strong because I was still working to fully grasp what it means to edit a story.
I edited the piece after another editor had gone over it, catching a few AP style and grammatical errors, but did not take the time to point out a few statements that could have been elaborated on or those that included an opinion. For example, the author wrote that the team was hopefully ready to “rise to greatness” which, while it may have been true, was not supported by a quote from a player or coach or any other fact. Looking back, I realized I should have highlighted these types of portions of the story in order to ensure that the staff member was reporting completely accurately on the story. It is lessons like this moment, however, that have taught me how to improve the quality of my editing to the point where I am today. The final copy was published in issue three of the Eagle Eye and is pasted below.
“Shooting for First – A Look at Men’s Varsity Basketball”
The Men’s Varsity Basketball team is 15 games into the season and is making great strides to becoming one of the most dominant teams in the state of Colorado. Through playing against some of the top-ranked schools, to multiple injuries, they continue to power through the season.
The Golden Eagles started off the season by taking third place in the Mountain Vista/Rock Canyon Tip-Off Tournament. They went on to play three games against Grandview, Fossil Ridge and Doherty High School, beating Fossil Ridge and losing to Grandview and Doherty.
The Golden Eagles went into Winter Break with a 3-3 record, looking for improvement. The first six games showed that many players needed to step up their efforts and to take on new roles on and off the court as a result of the number of injuries the team had suffered.
“It’s been a challenge with all the injuries that we have faced so far,” junior Connor Staib said. “However we’re very optimistic going forward and feel like we can do well in the conference play and make a run in the playoffs, especially with a bunch of key players coming back from [their injuries].”
Although the team started with a less than stellar record and suffered numerous injuries, the Golden Eagles have proven to be resilient.
Over Winter Break, the team participated in the Cherry Creek Holiday Classic, taking second place in the eight team tournament.
“[The tournament] was good for the team. We were playing with three starters out and we had to play new roles,” sophomore Simon May said. “We had to step up and play bigger roles so we could win. It will help us in the long run and it will make us better.”
With the rest of the season approaching, the team looks confident and ready to face the competition, and hopefully, rise to greatness. The Golden Eagles have 8 more regular season games before the playoffs begin. They are currently ranked fifteenth in Colorado’s 5A rankings.
“We’re feeling great!” Senior Miles Hughes said. “Now that [players are coming back from injuries], we’re gonna have full squad.”
As the number of stories and content I edited each day grew, I became sharper with catching mistakes and more knowledgable with the rules and guidelines of AP Style. I now recognize the importance of an author’s style, voice and flow within a story and I work to help each staff member find theirs in writing. Also important to me is my awareness in editing for overall content of a story, ensuring that it is balanced factually and is informative to the audience. This goes for any form news takes and must be adapted differently for each platform. The following is an example of my editing on one of our yearbook spreads, on which editors wrote a story on Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globe Awards.
A positive aspect of this story was that it worked to share meaningful information about Winfrey’s message, but the downside was that it seemed to share only her message and not the opposing argument or a connection to the student body that is meant to be represented in the yearbook. I instructed them to possibly implement this connection with the idea to get feedback from the students using our social media accounts as well as including a summary of the critics’ review of Winfrey’s speech. At the point when the editing process for this spread was completed, the ceremony had occurred too many days in advance for a poll on the Vista Now Twitter account to be relevant, but my advice to the staff members remains relevant with every story they write in the future. The final copy of this piece will be publish in the 2017-18 Aerie Yearbook and is pasted below.
//ANNE GERRINGER AND MIKAYLA OLAVE//
The 2018 Golden Globe awards, hosted by Seth Myers, were overshadowed by the overwhelming theme of the ‘#MeToo’ campaign. Nearly everyone who attended wore black or a “Time’s Up” pin in solidarity with the victims of sexual assault in the workplace. Oprah Winfrey stole the spotlight with a powerful speech about how the time for change is now.
“I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon!” Winfrey said. “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”
The big winners of the night were The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird, but some believe the awards were not recognized enough due to the night’s theme, which was dominated by Winfrey.
“May we teach our children speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new North Star,” Laura Dern, supporting actress winner for her role in “Big Little Lies”, said.
For each portrait page of our yearbook, we will be featuring one of the students on the spread in a brief profile to tell their unique story, whatever it may be. In order to encompass our “Rewind” theme, we wanted the staff to attempt to focus on something that has been a part of their subject from a young age. The following was written by a staff member for her page assignment about a student’s passion for photography and what the passion means to her.
When the profile was originally submitted, it told a story but contained a few opinion statements, AP Style and grammatical errors. I advised the author in seeking a little bit more depth, even in only 250 words, in order to tell the story of the student in a way that was both meaningful and factual. The final copy will be published in the 2017-18 Aerie Yearbook and is pasted below.
“Flashback” //HANNAH CORBET THIELE//
Photography is an art, and Blake D’Ascoli, 11, has been captivated by it ever since sixth grade when her sister let her borrow her Samsung camera.
“It wasn’t an awesome camera but it was enough to get me hooked on photography,” D’Ascoli said. “I’ve never used a real camera before, and after I took that first photograph, I just felt pure joy like I was supposed to be doing this. As I kept taking more pictures, it felt right and the happier I became.”
People say a photo is worth a thousand words, and a thousand words can change a person’s emotions almost instantly. Not only did D’Ascoli find her passion, but she found a way to help people see a new perspective.
“It inspires people or gives them a new perspective on things. It can give people different emotions depending on the photograph, but they can make anyone happy,” D’Ascoli said. D’Ascoli has high hopes for herself in the future and she even wants to travel the world.
“I plan on becoming a professional photographer that is hopefully sponsored by National Geographic or any other big company. I would also like to travel the world and capture the unique cultures and customs it has to offer, and maybe even be part of Be A Good Person.” D’Ascoli said, “It would be really cool to get to know the kids and help them out.”
The Big Picture
Editing is more than just guiding staff members in producing high-quality work that they can be proud of and make an impact with, it is also taking time to step back and look at the operation of the program as a whole. By taking a moment to observe in this manner every once in a while, I can offer suggestions as to how to improve the process by which we go about organizing content and motivating the staff, as well as fix any issues with communication and our manner of teaching the staff every day. Doing so benefits the staff because it consistently streamlines the way that we edit their work and improves the quality of our leadership as a whole.
When any issue arises while looking at the program from this perspective, we bring it up in discussion during our first period editors class. The time we spend to communicate our thoughts and suggestions along with the help of our adviser leads to our stronger combined leadership of the program.
The first major issue we confronted as editors this year was the fact that the staff struggled to complete their fall sports spreads for the yearbook on time. Only a few reached the deadline, but we were concerned overall regardless of the due date because most of the pages lacked true storytelling.
At this point, we agreed that it was more important to share strong and accurate stories about the team than to sacrifice meaning in order to meet our deadline. We moved the final date back, and I assigned a single sport to each editor so that all of the pages had one or two editors individually dedicated to the staff members working on them.
The picture above is a section of my notes on the fall sports pages, including any major errors, editor assignments, and the names of the staff members responsible for each sport.
Our next step was to find a way of helping the staff to understand the qualities lacking in their writing that took away its meaning as a story. In order to do so, we printed copies of a strong example of a story written by a staff member for the softball spread. It had a total of 250 words but did a wonderful job of focusing on a specific aspect of the team to share the meaning of the whole season, making it simple and easy to read for every staff member. We gathered in class after everyone read the piece and discussed what made “No Weak Sauce” a valuable story as well as made our own edits to further improve its message.
The process with which we edited our own organization and leadership with our yearbook pages provided the staff with a greater understanding of how to improve their work for both fall sports and the future. It also challenged our editor group to rethink the path we took to completing fall sports so that we could avoid the same mistakes in the future and increase the value of our guidance to the staff every day.
We begin the development of our winter sports pages within the next couple weeks, and after discussing the experience above, we decided to go about the same assignment process for each editor ahead in anticipation instead of reaction of the editing process. On top of this, we also spent half of a class period with the templates for our sports spreads on the big projector screen so that we could clearly explain what content was needed for each sport beforehand as well as what our expectations are in terms of quality.