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Student Press Review
Coming full circle
A former convention delegate, now a sports editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, returned as a speaker
Editor's note: Originally published: March 22, 2004
Michelle Hoover, sports copy editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, speaks to students during a session at CSPA´s 80th anniversary Convention.
Photo : Leslie Antolick, Tide Lines Staff, Pottsville Area HS
For Michelle Hoover, speaking at the 80th annual CSPA Convention was her opportunity to come full circle.
Nearly a decade after attending the event as a student from Pottsville Area High School, she returned to share her knowledge of how to start a career in the journalism business.
Hoover's career began as an editor on the award-winning Hi-S-Potts publications staff. That experience helped her to land a job at her local newspaper, The Pottsville Republican and Evening Herald.
"Working at the Republican really gave me the opportunity to develop my professional skills and build my portfolio at an early age," she said.
After that key first step, the internships kept on coming. Over the course of her college career, Hoover interned at newspapers such as the Star-Gazetteer in Elmira, New York and the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia.
In her Columbia sessions, Hoover emphasized the importance of taking advantage of opportunities such as internships.
"Journalism is one of those careers where what you get out of it depends on how much you put into it," she said. "Because of that, it is important to stay motivated and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way."
She also stressed that the more professional "clips" a student had in his or her portfolio, the better chance he or she would have of landing a job at a major newspaper.
Hoover has certainly practiced what she preaches. Her extensive number of internships as well as free-lance work for newspapers such as The Patriot News in Harrisburg (Penna.) helped her to land a job at one of the biggest newspapers in the country, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Unlike many up and coming journalists, Hoover resisted the temptation to become a "frontlines" reporter, opting instead to become a copy editor.
She began her work in 2002 as a news copy editor, working specifically at the features desk. She created headlines and edited articles including food and music reviews.
"I like editing more than writing," she said. "However, news can get a little depressing because it deals with shootings and other violent things."
After working in the news department for two years, Hoover was asked to help out in the sports department.
"I was in news during the Eagles football season, which is a time when the sports desk needs a lot of help because there's so much going on," she said. "When a sports copy editor asked if I would come over and work for him, I agreed and basically hit the ground running," she said.
In addition to checking for basic spelling and grammar mistakes, Hoover is also responsible for making sure that the stories are accurate and objective. In order to do this, she often has to play the role of a reader and predict how the public will respond to a story.
"We call our copy editors the 'last editor and first reader' of each section," she said.
Although sports copy editing at a major daily newspaper entails many responsibilities, Hoover enjoys her job and likes the excitement that it brings.
"I definitely like my job," she said. "It's so fast and exciting and there's always something going on. The nature of sports is fun, so it only means that my job is fun by association."
Hoover will soon be leaving that world, however, and returning to the classroom. She plans to attend either Harvard or Columbia University and pursue a degree in education.
"I hope to someday become the dean of a journalism school at a college or university," she said.
Hoover was made aware of the Columbia's speaking opportunity through Mrs. Kathleen Zwiebel, her former high school publications adviser and CSPAA's President.
"Mrs. Zwiebel asked me about it [speaking at Columbia] after I became a professional journalist," she said. "I remembered how much fun I had attending the convention as a student, so I thought that speaking would be a good opportunity."
Hoover felt that the teaching experience was a positive one.
"I enjoy teaching other students, so I thought it was a great opportunity to teach two sessions," she said. "At the same time, it made me realize that 10 years ago, I was sitting in their exact position. I'm pretty young, 26 [years old], and it seems like I've done so much living since then."
Jenna Spinelle, is a senior and the editor in-chief of Tide Lines newspaper at Pottsville Area High School (Penna.). Emily Tarconish, is a junior and the sports editor of Tide Lines.
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