Three things I’ve learned about being a news editor

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I’ve been in full swing as the news editor at The University Daily Kansan for just about two weeks now. I’m still alive (barely), but it didn’t take me long to figure out a couple of things about my job that I can look forward to for the next ~13 weeks:

1. Naps don’t happen. Ever.

Napping has become somewhat of a foreign concept to me since becoming news editor. Before January, I was on a roll, continuously breaking my record for hours napped in a day when I was at home. However, despite having only one class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I’m incapable of taking an hour-long nap.

Case in point: today, I came home from the newsroom and did a couple hours worth of homework. My schedule was looking clear from about 4:30 to 5:30, when I had to go back to the newsroom. Ahhhhh, I thought, look at this whole entire hour I have to do nothing but sleep and rejuvenate!

Wrong. 10 text messages, 5 emails and a phone call from a reporter. Work never stops.

2. Meat tastes really, really good.

I’ve been a vegetarian since May. When I moved out of the dorms into my first house, it took me about a week before I realized, holy crap, I actually have to cook for myself now. And it took one trip to the meat aisle in Dillons to realize that being a carnivore is freaking expensive. 

So, I cut out meat, except for my grandma’s homemade chicken noodles at Thanksgiving (because obviously). That is, until this week.

After leaving the newsroom on Monday at 12:10 p.m., I told myself I was having a really long week and impulsively bought a Brella’s Tuscan Turkey wrap from The Underground (I couldn’t spring for the Crunchy Chicken Cheddar wrap just yet.)

I wouldn’t call it life changing, but it changed my life this week. I’ve been on a downward spiral from vegetarianism. I bought a chicken burrito from Chipotle and chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A. I told myself I’m just taking a week off, but we’ll see how well I hold myself to that…

3. Nightmares re: the paper are REAL.

At 4 a.m., I woke up in a cold sweat. I snapped up from the comfort of my $8 Target pillows in terror. The front page, I thought, do all the stories have news hooks? Did copy print the right headline? Is there a correctly imaged photo above the fold? God forbid, what if there’s a mistake?

It’s not an uncommon occurrence. I’ve made a ton of mistakes in the first two weeks regarding these things (among others). On one hand, it’s made me break down and cry in the corner chair of my room, hunched over the day’s edition.

But it’s made me a better editor and leader.

I’m glad I got some of these mistakes out of the way early, because there’s only room for improvement. Each day, I get better at questioning and justifying my decisions. I get better at paying attention to little details. I get better at being a cheerleader and supporting my hard-working staff.

Still, most days, I have to pick myself up, learn to grow from the criticism and remind myself that I am brand new at this (I’m a 19-year-old sophomore.)

As overwhelming as it has been in the past two weeks, each day gets easier. Only 97 more to go.

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