Shadowing at the Tower

Dear Reader,

I had the unique opportunity to shadow Chuck Burke, senior editor and design editor at the Chicago Tribune, on March 17.

From 11:50 a.m. to 7 p.m., I had Mr. Burke (almost) all to myself, chatting, following him to his meetings, and peering over his shoulder as he designed the Business section of the Tribune for the next day. What a crazy experience!

Besides getting to talk and get career feedback from a higher-up at an extremely reputable newsroom, I also got to briefly meet the editor in chief of the Tribune, Gerry Kern, sit in on the editorial meeting during which they determined what would go on the front page for the next day, and tour the editorial floor of the Tribune Tower.

A picture of the Tribune tower in Chicago

The editorial floor was quieter than I expected. Men and women sat at their computers, some on social media, some on Adobe Creative Suite programs, and some typing busily to meet their deadlines. I followed Mr. Burke to his workplace, right on the outskirts of the main mass of editors’ desks which was separated by thin aisles of walking space.

Exiting the subdued buzz of the newsroom, we sat in a deserted glass-wall office and discussed my career, The Wheaton Record, and typography. Unsurprisingly, typography and design were where Mr. Burke and I found the most to talk about.

The man was a design connoisseur. I mean, one of his computer monitors was elevated by a stack of “Best of Newspaper Design” editions. No wonder he found his way to the top of the newsroom food chain!

I probably shouldn’t say too much about the whole editorial and design process, but I was heartened by the fact that these design editors, with all those big-time newspaper funds at their disposal, were still using Adobe InDesign as their main workhorse. That’s the software that we’re using at the Record! They even sometimes had to fill white space with “artsy” designs just like us. Their top editors met and argued like we do.

That gave me confidence that, even with all of our faults and obstacles, we are headed in the right direction and are doing the most we can with what we have.

I’m excited to return to the Tribune this Thursday, and promise to blog about my visit to the Tribune editorial board!

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My kind of journalism

Dear Reader,

My name is Kirkland An, and I am a business/economics major pursuing a journalism certificate at Wheaton College in Illinois. I’ve started this WordPress site to publish all my journalistic musings and to push my printed publications as well.

The quiet suburb of Wheaton, IL isn’t known as a thriving hub of media activity, but my searching has led me to a group of ambitious, clever individuals that makes up The Wheaton Record editorial staff. I started my sophomore year as the associate editor of the newspaper and stole a 700-word space in the News section of each edition for my weekly column, “Closer Look into World News.”

Those two activities keep me busy. As associate editor, I edit each article that is published in the Record, manage the copy editing staff, and act as the resident AP style expert. Consequently, this website may — unintentionally — end up AP-consistent. It wouldn’t be surprising; I text in AP style.

As a weekly columnist, if I’m not writing, then I’m researching, planning or interviewing possible sources for next week’s article.

All that being said, being busy doesn’t mean that it’s overwhelmingly exciting. Wheaton College was rated the #1 safest campus in the United States and The Record’s weekly public safety blotter acts as a running gag — more often than not, public safety, as hardworking as they are, are most called upon to stop water leakages and stave off the odd idling car. This also explains why the latest death to shock campus was a squirrel’s — it encountered a key generator that unfortunately shut down the campus power for a few hours.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t intriguing news to cover at Wheaton College. My fellow students, thanks to the opportunities presented by our marvelous international relations, travel across the globe to conduct research and network with world leaders, and I get to tell their poignant stories to the student and staff bodies through my world news column.

But my degree and studies don’t make up all of who I am.

I’m an Taiwanese/Chinese-American male journalism student at a small Christian liberal arts college in the midwest, which puts me in a very, very small demographic niche. 8.6 percent of the Wheaton College student body identifies as “Asian,” which includes a whole slew of nationalities including Indian and Southeast Asian. I personally know of three other Asians in the journalism certificate program, all of whom are Korean, and all of whom are female.

What does that mean? It means that I am unique and I identify myself as a unique individual. I recognize the fact that I am different from my peers. My writing reflects the observant, analytical eye of a stranger in alien land, a non-conformist style in the face of overwhelming uniformity (I’m talking about you, my dear midwest), and my resolve to cling to Christian values.

My writing has been molded by inhabiting a world of “different.”

So hello world! (Thanks, default WordPress title.)

I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and that after reading, you can say that I have stuck to my guns. Thanks for reading!

-Kirk