My journalism work comes full circle in Bellevue, Neb.

Kaitlyn Klein

On July 30, I met with Billy McGuigan for our second interview. Six years ago I went to the Omaha Community Playhouse as a freshman in high school to interview Billy for a school project. Tuesday I met with him as a junior in college, writing an article for a professional publicationImage

The subject was the same: his Beatles tribute show, Yesterday and Today, that I fell in love with in 2007 in its first season.

I took a shot all those years ago reaching out to this local group for an interview. I guess I got lucky. Unfortunately the video my partner and I were supposed to be filming was never captured, but I promise it was an awesome interview.

Now, I’ve been to the show at least seven times and I thought it would be great for the Bellevue community to get to know one of its own, why the show is so successful and how he came up with the unique concept of a all-request Beatles show where the audience shares their stories with Billy and his brothers.

Billy set up an interview at his alma mater Bellevue East High School and we both had the chance to reflect on the years since our last interview — me and my progress with journalism and him and his progress with the show.

***

In addition to the Billy story that made the front page of the Bellevue Leader, my byline landed the front page of the Ralston Recorder for a story on an old building with a new owner

That story took some time, but I met some great people with a great vision. This story reminded me that in every town, there are places that are cool and have the potential to bring the community together. The Old Ralston Granary is one of those places and Klare Ellis is a man with a great vision. I wish him the best of luck and can’t wait to come home in a year and see the vision taking shape.

Finishing my internship with two front-page features gives me confidence since I have claimed feature writing to be my weakness. Maybe I really have grown as a journalist this summer. Thanks to the community and the staff that has helped me achieve this.

Mistakes are inevitable, but never easy, especially in public eye

Kaitlyn Klein

Two corrections recently ran in the Papillion Times because of mistakes I made in my reporting.

Both errors involved people’s names. First I misidentified Andy Quick in my biggest story about where money on firework sales go. Quick called me a day after the article published to thank me for bringing his church’s problem to the public’s attention — “oh and you got my last name wrong,” he added as an after thought.

Mortified, I apologized and felt a sense of failure for forgetting to simply have him spell his name for me to ensure I got it right.

Quick laughed at the error and was way nicer to me than he needed to be. I was lucky.

A week later I felt a similar sense of dread when a source emailed me to say I misidentified another person in my story about Camp Maha. This time I went through every note I took on the story and couldn’t understand where I went wrong. It was Mark. Ranger Mark. Mark was all over my notes; I even had his business card. The cutline printed his name correctly and the story incorrectly identified him as Ranger Mike. I kicked myself for not noticing the inconsistency while I was copy editing.

But as I reflect I realize that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself or my fellow journalists for these errors. From now on I will be especially careful with names as I should’ve been to begin with. I admitted my mistakes and had corrections issued as soon as the errors were brought to my attention.

Errors should be rare, but not unforgivable. Publications and journalists should set up consistent fact-checking procedures and be willing to own up to their mistakes. I know I will take my mistakes and let them make me a better journalist and writer rather than letting them get me down.

Celebrity Twitter accounts can cause controversy, but their presence is wanted

Kaitlyn Klein

This is an opinion piece written independently and does not reflect the views of anyone but myself. 

People whose lives are already in the spotlight may have little use for social media. They can get their message out to the masses in hundreds of other ways, but fans often appreciate the relationship they can have with celebrities through social media.

I follow a variety of celebrities on Twitter; some tweet often, like Ricky Gervais and Kirsten Storms, others almost never, like Kevin Spacey and Brian Williams, and few interact with followers and discuss their own opinions.

Alec Baldwin is one celebrity who is often on my timeline. Two and a half years ago he even became one of my followers after I replied to one of his tweets asking about the military draft. At first I was excited to see a celebrity I admired follow me, but then I wondered why and whether it actually meant anything. My reply certainly gained me some followers, but it also gained me many haters. Adults attacked an 18 year old viciously through social media for being naive.

I don’t know why Alec Baldwin decided to follow me. He replied to my tweet as well, but I can’t recall it now. It prompted no further interaction and my question was answered, though some beg for celebrities to follow them it means nothing and rarely throws you into social media stardom.

Recently Baldwin has come under fire again because of his use of social media to respond a report by the Daily Mail that his wife was tweeting during a funeral. (Later the Daily Mail published a reaction story complete with Baldwin’s tweets.)

Baldwin apologized after his tweets were taken as homophobic. In an phone interview with Gothamist he said that he is done with Twitter. “You get these body blows of all this hatred from people…” Baldwin said.

I get that. That’s what I got a taste of when I responded to Baldwin’s tweet two years ago. However, I feel like that’s a cop out. Baldwin should know by now how to handle criticism even if it’s unwarranted or ridiculous.

He could have handled the situation better. We are all learning the proper ways of communication via social media. He’s probably right that he doesn’t need it, but I appreciate celebrities, politicians and journalists who establish a presence and communicate with fans, constituents and readers. As a journalist I think it is important to use these tools. It’s just a matter of using them properly and professionally.

Twitter is a tool that allows those people to directly communicate with ordinary people. It allows us to get a more personal view of people we admire if used right. It’s also a great way to self promote, raise awareness and get feedback.

On Twitter you can build a community and have conversations that would be difficult to have otherwise. It has its pros and cons like any other tool, but it is what you make of it. Cliche? Maybe, but it is a tool that you can have complete control over if you choose.

So if Alec Baldwin happens to read this, I hope he reconsiders abandoning social media and rather rethinks its use.

To everyone else: try not to get caught up in the numbers or the Internet trolls who spew hate every chance they get. Focus on building a community and a conversation that is important to you.

This media hawk flies home

Kaitlyn Klein

From May to August, I’ll be bringing news from home, rather than from the Lawrence/KU community. Where’s home you ask? The Omaha metro area of Nebraska.

Here I am visting the Henry Doorly Zoo where five lion cubs were recently born. It's good to be back in "the good life."

Here I am visting the Henry Doorly Zoo where five lion cubs were recently born. It’s good to be back in the good life.

Starting in June, you will find a “news from home” tab where I will provide updates about my work with links. I will also continue to update my “news from elsewhere” tab weekly.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to provide feedback on any of my work so far.

Research finds word of mouth still primary source for social news consumption

Kaitlyn Klein

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that friends and family are important drivers of news. The survey found that word of mouth is still the primary way for people to receive news. However, those who receive news through social media and email are more likely to follow up with the news than those who hear news by word of mouth.

See full size infographic here 

Infographic

*Numbers are rounded and may not add up to 100 percent.

Copy editors count on vast content to keep them in business

Kaitlyn Klein

Copyeditors are the gatekeepers of content. They are the last to see a story before publication, but often the first to spot errors in a story.

Yet many copy editors have been cut from their jobs because of downsizing newsrooms.

According to a study by the American Society of News Editors, copy editors have been most affected by the restructuring of newsrooms.

Fred Vultee responded to the study in an article on the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) website. He wrote that editors must look beyond the numbers to see the real changes in copy editing – the job description.

“An editing job today is not what it was 15 years ago; changes in the survey categories reflect that, but editors should be the first, not the last, to know that their job description is a moving target,” Vultee wrote.

ACES held their annual conference in St. Louis April 4, 5 and 6, and the bleak attitude that you’d expect from the-sky-is-falling attitude of journalism was no where to be found.

In fact, copy editors are needed more than ever now. That’s what the students and professionals who attended the conference are counting on.

Professionals volunteered to share their knowledge during sessions that were scheduled throughout each day. They also spent time networking with others in their field during the evening.

Katie Fennelly, a student from the University of Nebraska, attended to accept a scholarship. She said that copyeditors are evolving with journalism.

“We’re in that transitional period and everything right now, I think, in a sense comes back to copyediting because we’re that line of defense for fairness and accuracy,” Fennelly said.

Five students from the University of Kansas attended the conference as well. (For more on the ACES conference, see video below.)

Copyediting in Lawrence

ACES Conference Vice President Lisa McLendon is also KU’s Bremner Editing Center Coordinator. She works with students of any level to edit their stories whether it’s for a class or for the University Daily Kansan.

McLendon, who previously worked as a copy editor at the Wichita Eagle, knows first hand about how copyediting has changed in recent years.

Now it will involve managing online content, links, social media and interactions with readers – all things that copy editors are suited to do, McLendon said.

KU’s journalism school requires a multimedia editing class for all students, whether they are thinking about a career in editing or not.

“Journalism is changing; news media is changing, and you need to be able to produce clean copy yourself,” McLendon said about why editing classes are important.

McLendon’s best advice for students interested in copyediting: read.

“Read good writing and all kinds of good writing,” McLendon said. “If you read good writing, you know what good writing is supposed to look like.”

Lawrence Journal-World Copy Editor Susan Roberts agreed with McLendon’s advice to aspiring copy editors.

Roberts receives frequent comments and the occasional phone call or letter to the editor about errors that appear in the Journal-World.

“You have to be credible,” Roberts said. “You need people to take you seriously.”