What are your job responsibilities/duties?
I am one of four department heads that runs the day-to-day operations. In my department, I direct and oversee the journalism and editorial initiatives at 22nd Century Media, which publishes 15 community newspapers and websites. We also publish a regional magazine, Chicagoly, of which I am the editor in chief.
What does a typical day look like?
Like most in this profession it varies and I make sure to stay relatively flexible, as to address any impromptu problems. I speak with our managing editors on a daily basis, answering questions or just ensuring quality production; usually work with our creative director on magazine tasks, especially the closer we get to deadline; and keep long-term plans and goals on track.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
The diversity and challenge. Our company is new (12 years old) relative to legacy media companies. We're constantly working to make our mark on the industry, while maintaining our integrity to our tends of thousands of loyal readers. And no two days are the same. We try new things all the time.
What is the most difficult aspect of the job?
The pressure — knowing that you have a lot to do with the livelihood and joy of dozens of employees. I am honored to do the job and make decisions with their interests in mind, but it weighs on you.
I was an editor the first eight years here. The most difficult part then was the commitment. While it is necessary and fills you with pride, it's tough being on call all the time. You have to love writing and delivering the news.
What on-campus activities were you involved with? Where did you gain relevant experience?
I worked briefly at the Daily Illini (one semester) before taking other campus jobs. Not long later, I hooked up with the town paper, The News-Gazette of Champain-Urbana, and worked on the sports desk for over a year. Some elective Journ classes were also very helpful (sports writing, photojourn).
How did your experience at ILLINOIS and in the College of Media prepare you for your professional life? For this specific position?
It provided the foundation. To be honest, you'll get a whole new education once you hit a newsroom. But you need those basics and a bit more to know how to handle and work through that real-world education. The professors at UofI had that real-world experience, so I trusted their lessons and advice. You just have to take the time to listen.
What advice do you have for students interested in this field?
Always remind yourself how special this job is. Most likely, you'll work long hours, face the wrath of readers/viewers, get overwhelmed and not get paid enough to deal with those things. But that's not why we do it.
What is one thing that you know now that you wish you had known when you started in the field? When you graduated from the College?
The importance of effort/drive and resourcefulness. They are underrated virtues in this field. If you have a strong base, all you have to do is be active and creative in collecting the news. Don't have it? Go and get it!