Hello! I received some helpful advice from journalism professional, John Paul McDonall. McDonall is the editor at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been in the journalism business for thirteen years. He graduated from New York University in 2004 and has had multiple impressive career choices that have led him to where he is at today. I had the chance to have a phone interview with John Paul over the weekend.
Q1: What is a typical week like?
A1: “The azcentral digital planning job involves editing stories, writing headlines, analyzing metrics and planning coverage and “play” — how stories appear on the website. I lead a team of four homepage producers and work with other editing and reporting teams across the newsroom. Every day is different in this job. Yesterday, for example, I had to schedule out posts to our Facebook page and write up a breaking news story on a fatal shooting in addition to my regular duties. Often this job is just recognizing what needs done and jumping on it”.
Q2: Tell me about a project that you worked on that you are especially proud of.
“There was a Human Rights class at Arizona state and the professor gave them two options for their final project. It was either a research paper or a group project. They had chosen a group project (the group project was a protest). Conservatives went crazy over this. They were outraged that protesting on a college campus about immigrants was considered homework. The professor ended up getting death threats and things got crazy! The Arizona Republic got a chance to debunk the rumors on social media and it was just a really interesting story”.
Q3: What do you want to keep current in the journalism industry?
A3: “I prefer online news. Technology is rapidly changing not only how readers consume news but how we report it. Readers’ shift to mobile from desktop is in full force and gaining every year. Inside the newsroom, we’re being transformed by data-mining tools and analytics”.
Q4: How important is writing in your career?
A4: “Very Important, even though most of the time I am not doing the writing. I had to have great writing skills to be where I am today. Good writing is one of the most important qualities a journalist can have.”
Q5: What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in journalism?
A5: “Be Curious. Be Eager. Read a variety of news outlets every day. Do a variety of internships. Work to improve your writing. Solicit feedback and aggressively monitor improvements made by anyone editing behind you. Don’t wait for someone to tell you to do something. Make yourself indispensable”.
Q6: What internships/jobs have you held related to journalism? Which was most impactful and why?
A6: “In college, I interned with the local newspaper in Terre Haute, with the political campaign of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and with a left-leaning think tank called Demos. (At that point, I was unsure whether I wanted to pursue a career in journalism or politics/issue advocacy.) I’ve held copy-editing jobs at the Villages Daily Sun in Florida; at the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Weekly; and at the Chicago Tribune. Now I’m a digital planning editor with the Arizona Republic and azcentral. All were impactful in different ways. In Florida, I learned the basics of editing and daily journalism. In Vegas, I practiced big-picture enterprise thinking and writing with flair. In Chicago, I plied my craft at journalism’s highest level and learned from the best. In Arizona, I learned how to lead a team and work across various departments, and how to be a senior-level editor for print and now for digital. To keep moving forward in this business, you can never stop learning”!
Check Out His LinkedIn!
I am all about Music, Marketing, and Public Relations. Personally I have a passion for writing as well. When I was in junior high I thought I would become a journalist, now seven years later I realize that is not for me! I just do not have the ambition to be a journalist!