An editor’s life: With great power comes great responsibility  

Photo courtesy of Barn Images, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Barn Images, Flickr

My job is defined by more than the hours I work, but by the response of the USC community to the content I curate and the layout I create.

Every time I see another student reading the Daily Trojan I feel a sense of pride knowing that my work makes a difference. Providing USC students with news that matters to them is what makes the long, weekly slog worthwhile.

I have been deputy news editor now for a month, and I can easily say this is one of the most demanding and rewarding roles I have had in my 19 years. It has forced me to lead others and, most importantly, it has forced me to learn more about myself. Whether it is organizing writers or learning the inner workings of InDesign and journalistic style, I gain experience that I can apply in my future endeavors and my own life.

If you need to see me the best place to look is in the Daily Trojan newsroom: it has become my second home. Every week I devote 30 hours to produce the daily newspaper.

My time in the newsroom has become a rhythm. By the end of my stint as deputy news editor, my mouse will become an extension of my body and the computer screen will become an extension of my eyes. Each day, I go straight to my computer in the back corner of the Daily Trojan newsroom and connect to the server — “Midnight” (quite a fitting name). I then determine the word count and photo dimensions of each story, layout the text, headlines, captions, second decks and photos, and place and write the content. My progression is dependent on everything going according to plan. That never happens so I have had to adapt to the newsroom environment.

As a deputy news editor, I must think on my feet in the face of adversity. Occasionally stories will come in late, reporters will be unresponsive or there will be a deadline event that starts during production. The variability of news forces my efficiency. I am constantly working against the clock so I must manage my time. If an event goes on during production, I work on captions and headlines; if a writer does not turn in their story, I find an alternative to help fill white space.

After being deputy news editor for one month, my fingers already subconsciously search for the backspace, shift and letter keys. I use my keyboard to shave away the stone and uncover a statue. After shaping the story on Google Drive, I add it to Trello, our task managing software, fix the managing editors’ comments and drop it in InCopy. Now the copy editors must begin the painstaking process of fact-checking every statistic and making sure each and every word fits cohesively. Finally the smoothened story is placed on the page.

My work is far from over now. The story may already be placed, but it is far from perfect. The other news editors and I then print the final version of the layout. We wait for the managing editors to read each page multiple times and use their multi-colored pens to perfect everything. This process is repeated twice. We’re still not done yet.

We read the headlines, captions, ledes and decks aloud, we spell check everything that can be spelled and make sure every story finishes and jumps to the right page.

The Daily Trojan has now transformed from a blank page in InDesign into a newspaper that I can feel proud of when I see students reading it.

Problem solving is a prerequisite if you want to be an successful deputy news editor. Be prepared to write less and design more. Be prepared to proactively mitigate issues before they become a problem. Most importantly, be prepared to take responsibility.

Hawken Miller is a freshman majoring in print and digital journalismHe is also the deputy news editor of the Daily Trojan