Faces Of NPR: Amy Morgan

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Faces Of NPR is a weekly feature that showcases the people behind NPR, from the voices you hear every day on the radio to the ones who work outside of the recording studio. You'll find out about what they do and what they're inspired by on the daily. This week's post features an editor for Digital News, Amy Morgan.

The Basics:

Name: Amy Morgan

Twitter Handle: @amymorganedits

Job Title: Editor, Digital News

Where You're From: Olympia, WA.

An Inside Look:

You're a Digital News Editor. What does that mean?

My job is basically to be an advocate for our digital audience, making sure stories are in the best shape possible—accurate, easy to read, with compelling leads and headlines, and I focus on news content. I also copy edit graphics, apps, video captions and social media assets, even newsletters and alerts, and help with social media strategy. (Edit all the things!)

How did you get started here? What advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?

NPR was launching a big expansion of its online presence back then, in spring 2007, and the digital team really needed someone with my print copy editing skills. I had been a newspaper copy editor and page designer for seven years before taking a break to do some freelancing, when I heard about NPR's opening through a former colleague. I like to say it was part serendipity! Some advice for someone who wants to be a news editor: hone your editing skills by devouring news; be flexible schedule-wise; be willing to bend the "rules" of copy editing in the interest of compelling reading; build your headline-writing prowess; whatever you're passionate about, become a subject-matter expert in it...I could go on! Being a good copy editor is a highly marketable skill in journalism and beyond, so if you're just starting out and have opportunities to build those skills, seize them!

Tell us about the Mugs of NPR Tumblr and how it got started!

I love coffee and tea, and I love mugs; I kind of collect them. But people tend to leave their mugs around the building in places that amuse me — atop the fridge, on a ledge in the bathroom. I'd stumble on them and wonder who they belonged to, what their stories were. So I started snapping pictures of them as kind of a "found art" project on Tumblr. Two-and-a-half years later, I have more than 7,800 followers. I love to get pics of people WITH their mugs now, with a little background story — like Ari Shapiro and his Dolly Parton mug. But the "found mugs" are still some of my favorites.

How do you take your coffee?

Since my short side gig as a Starbucks barista about 10 years ago, I have loved to ask people that question! My answer: If it's drip coffee, I've got to have milk or cream(er). I also love black tea with milk (especially Harney & Sons Paris variety). My very favorite cuppa right now, though, is a flat white.

What's your favorite #nprlife moment?

Definitely at an in-house photo editing workshop, when I found myself totally starstruck sitting between Nina Totenberg and Ofeibea Quist-Arcton—and the workshop was being led by Kainaz Amaria. They are three women whose expertise and authority I greatly admire. Pretty sure I audibly squee'd.

What are some of the coolest things you've worked on?

Earbud.fm, our tool for helping people find great podcasts; NPR Ed's School Money series on the nation's school-funding system; and our ebola coverage, which was heart-wrenching and exemplary.

Favorite podcast?

Code Switch and How I Built This

Favorite Tiny Desk?

Brandi Carlile, hands down. Her song "The Story" was my wedding song.

What's on your desk?

Lots of my 3-year-old's artwork (my 1-year-old hasn't contributed ... yet!), at least 10 mugs, a dictionary, AP Stylebooks, the NPR Accuracy Checklist.

What are some of your top copy-editing tips?

Try to at least quickly read the story start to finish before you make any changes; fixing lots of little mistakes can distract you from bigger problems. If you've had a tough time with an edit, look at the story differently—literally! Change the font or the font size, or make your window mobile-size to kind of reset your brain; my fellow copy editor Susan Vavrick has even recommended reading a story from bottom to top, which I think is a great tip. Work in a program that detects errors for you—technology is your friend! Just don't expect it to catch everything. Also, practice is key. Online quizzes are a fun way to learn your strengths and weaknesses and hone your skills. (Here's a recent one from the New York Times.) And finally, don't be afraid to ask "stupid" questions; if something raises a question for you, chances are the readers will be wondering, too.

First thing you do when you get to the office?

En route to deposit my lunch/snacks in the fridge, I keep an eye out for misplaced mugs to photograph; then I drink my coffee while checking email, Facebook and Twitter.

What is something you wish people knew about you?

All that time I was copy editing at newspapers and freelancing, I was also an avid rugby player—most recently for a team in Frederick, MD. I played and coached for 16 years, and I used to say my career was mostly a way to support my rugby obsession. I hung up my boots a few years ago as I was starting a family, but I try to keep up with rugby news. My journalism and rugby worlds collided earlier this year when I got to help explain the new/returning Olympic sport to NPR's Facebook Live and Twitter audiences. I happened to have a ball in my trunk that we used for a demonstration.

What are you inspired by right now?

I don't make time to read much beyond what I read at work these days! But a colleague loaned me March by Rep. John Lewis, which recently won a National Book Award. I couldn't believe how much I didn't know about Lewis' story; now I keep trying to learn more. Also, two stories I copy edited recently really moved me: Kara Frame's short documentary about veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder, and Gene Demby's essay about visiting Ghana. Kara and Gene are brave and giving in these pieces, making complex, personal issues more relatable.

What do you love about public radio?

Our mission to inform and invigorate people! I love and respect the personal connection this medium can spark between reporters and listeners, and my team tries really hard to honor and share that spark online. Many local stations have features where they ask readers and listeners to submit questions about their area, and then reporters go out and try to answer them — like WUWM's Bubbler Talk or KUOW's Local Wonder. I love those stories (they appeal to my local newspaper roots, I think), and I get to see a lot of them in my role as an editor for the Local Stories Project.

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