The Turn Has Been Made

Tuesday’s copy desk shift went fairly smoothly with no major (or memorable) issues. (Part of “making the turn” of knowledge, right?)

Thursday’s shift brought another long story — this time, a profile about a widow still maintaining the farm and alpaca herd she ran with her husband. It was done well and, itself, brought few questions (though I learned a Piper Cub is a type of airplane and AP does not use “widower” to distinguish gender) — most of my time spent on it dealt with headlines and other “bigger-picture” issues.

Monica and I talked about focusing on improving headline writing and macroediting in my portfolio review this past week. We agreed that, at this point, much of the microediting is almost mechanical for me and that I know what I don’t know and what I should look up/ask about and find out. I realized I’ve started to subconsciously fall into a mechanical pattern of catching the small stuff instead of making an effort to step back and look at how the bigger picture can be further improved. Now that I’m aware of this, I plan to concentrate on improving my macroediting in the remainder of this class (while maintaining meticulous microediting, of course).

I spent a lot of time coming up with a good SEO headline for the profile. I’d originally written it as “Central Missouri farmer manages U-pick apple orchard, alpaca herd alone,” but did that really entice readers to click on it? Did it really say anything about the message the story conveyed? I spent a while brainstorming, and though I thought it might focusing on a small part of the story at first, the headline ended up conveying how the widow enjoys the challenge of maintaining her farm and alpaca herd. It conveys the tone of the story better and lets the reader know more about the widow besides the fact she’s managing this farm on her own.

I wasn’t on the print desk that night, but I was asked to help come up with the print headline — it was to be the centerpiece in the next day’s paper. Five of us worked on it, each contributing one word or idea that ended up being used. It reminded me of the importance of teamwork on the desk and how acceptable it is to ask for help.

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