Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Learning the Ins and Outs of Journalism

By Heather Shaffer

Mallory Medved cringes when she sees a spelling or grammar error and loves to read papers, articles, and stories for their content and syntax. These traits come in especially handy in her work as an English major at UIS and as a copy editor for The Journal, the student newspaper.

Mallory didn’t always want to study the complex world of writing and editing. Beginning her studies four years ago as a political studies major in the second class of Capital Scholars, she originally chose UIS because she liked the campus and its location in the city of Springfield, a prime location for starting a career in politics.

But she joked that one day she realized that watching “West Wing” reruns on Bravo does not necessarily make a politician and decided she might be better suited for a different career path. So during her sophomore year she switched her major to English with a minor in Communication.

The first two years of the Capital Scholars Program were, overall, a positive experience for Mallory. She said that the program has helped her learn to think clearly and concisely and to reflect that in her writing.

For Mallory, one of the most positive aspects of the Capital Scholars program is its small class sizes. She said, “I went from a grade school class of 19 to a high school class of 1,100 and definitely prefer going to school where you aren't meeting classmates for the first time on the day you graduate.”

She also noted that, because all of her classes are small, she has gotten to know her professors well and they are available when she needs help.

When not studying or in class, Mallory holds down two jobs on campus: not only is she copy editor for The Journal, but she works in the bibliographic services department at Brookens Library as well.

After graduation, Mallory hopes to work for a newspaper as a copy editor/designer and eventually would like to become a freelance proofreader “so I can work at home, in my pajamas.” Mallory said that working for The Journal has been a priceless experience in helping her achieve that goal. “Because The Journal is small, I have been able to experience all aspects of working for a newspaper, from writing and editing to photography and designing. I think that will be invaluable after I graduate and enter the job market,” she said.

Mallory is already one step closer to finding full-time employment in the field of journalism. While attending the Illinois College Press Association Conference with The Journal staff in February, Mallory took part in the Jobs Fair and interviewed with Jan Larsen, a features editor for The Joliet Herald News. Jan told Mallory that there weren’t any positions open at that time; however, when a position did open up for a summer copy editor intern in the features department, she remembered Mallory and offered her the job.

In her internship, Mallory spends most of each morning proofing newspaper pages that have already been laid out and sends them to the printers for the next day. In the afternoon, she edits articles for future sections. Mallory said she also does a little writing on the side, mainly taking articles the paper gets from other area papers and reworking them to make the stories more local. “When Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released, we picked up an article from the Naperville paper about local launch parties, which meant I got to call every bookstore in our area to see what they were doing for the big night,” she said.

Mallory said that the internship has also allowed her to talk to a lot of interesting people this summer and to learn a lot about the ins and outs of professional journalism.

Working full-time has also made Mallory realize how valuable and short the college experience is, so her advice to new students at UIS is simple: get involved in activities on campus and make the most of the college experience while it lasts. “The rest of your life will come soon enough, so be sure to enjoy your years at UIS for the incredible experience that it is,” she said.

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at

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