Meet Monday’s USC Editor!

Rachel Hallett, a M.S. journalism student, shares her goals for the future and tips for becoming an editor at Annenberg Media.

[One-sentence description of what this media is: "A photo of a vaccine site on USC campus" or "Gif of dancing banana". Important for accessibility/people who use screen readers.]

Why did you choose to become an Annenberg Media editor?

I received the Annenberg fellowship to be here, which means I need to do a work placement. So I could do either something in the Media Center, a TA position or a research position. But the Media Center really called to me. I guess I haven’t had a traditional newsroom experience. I have done two internships. One for a digital entertainment magazine, and then one for LA Magazine. But I started my internship at LA Magazine at the end of February 2020. I think I was there two weeks before we went completely online. So I never got the newsroom experience. [The Media Center] just looks like such an incredible space for community and because so much of my journalism studies were remote, I felt really isolated, and coming here I knew I only had a year and I just really wanted to make as many connections as I could.

Why be a USC editor specifically?

I thought it was very much in line with my background, and it is, but also it’s allowed for some more growth than I think it expected. I feel like I do use every completely different part of my brain and it has made my own writing stronger. Like being able to look over other people’s [writing]. And I really love the collaborative efforts, like being on a team of editors is really exciting to me because I get to see how other people think and write and report and structure stories. And I think regardless of the medium that’s always important.

What is your favorite part of being a USC editor?

I have such a good team on Mondays. So I’d say the camaraderie is wonderful, a huge plus to it. I love just reading everyone’s stories and seeing it start with the conception of just the pitch in the morning and at the end of the day having a full fledged story. That’s a lot of work and a lot of different people. There’s just like a lot of different fingerprints on it. And I think that’s really cool that all the undergrads get to have this, like, little baby at the end of it. I like to see how that grows and be a part of that in some small way. I like the team effort.

How do you recognize what is or is not a good article?

I think when someone comes in with a pitch that’s something that’s timely for sure, but they can relate it to a bigger, more global movement or like understanding of its place in the community, especially for undergrads.

How do you edit an article without removing the original author’s voice?

I think reading it through fully first is the best move and trying to get an idea of what the story really is. If there’s anything missing, if you have any major questions about it as a reader, and you get an idea of their voice, and once you’ve done that and take a beat before you start picking out things, I think for me, the editing process, it’s really it’s either a structural issue or just like grammar issues. A lot of the students that I’m working with at least are really talented and understand what they’re doing for the most part. I can help with filling out holes, being like, oh, you know, I don’t think you’ve answered this question that readers are gonna have, how would you go about answering this? Instead of giving them, this is what I would write. Because that’s what the job is. It’s really letting them figure it out.

What are you hoping to do after school?

I [want to] have a host driven documentary show. I love long form. I love video. I love interviewing people and really just getting their stories. So that would be the end goal. But right after graduation, probably something in the digital space like Vice or BuzzFeed or something where they have multiple mediums that I can work with and play with, because I still love writing, but I’m interested in video and I think different stories call for different mediums and I think it’d be cool to explore.

What can Annenberg Media do to better engage the surrounding community?

Collaborating more with the social media team. I have a background in social media, so maybe that’s just like the way my brain works, but I love the idea… I think it’s just like such an underrated, underutilized tool in journalism as an industry.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to become an editor?

[Dive] in headfirst and [don’t be] afraid to share your expertise with the students. Because I think it can be a funny feeling sometimes because like you’re a student too, but I think everyone has a unique experience and unique understanding of this industry. And I think we all just learn better if we all share that together. And then also just being open to learning from the students themselves because I feel like I’ve already learned stuff from like the undergrads here too, which is great. [It] feels like a big, collaborative effort.