PRINCETON, N.J. — Jillian Atelsek, a 2020 Dow Jones News Fund multiplatform editing intern at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is the 17th Edward Trayes Scholar. She was selected by Trayes, the professor who has directed the training program at Temple University for 53 years.
Atelsek will receive a $1,000 scholarship and join 16 Trayes Scholars who have gone on to be exemplary journalists.
Trayes praised Atelsek’s performance during the training: “Jillian was outstanding during the 2020 virtual multiplatform editing residency at Temple. During the program, her demonstrated leadership attributes as well as her overall interest and skill in editing were strong indicators of her long-term potential. Jillian has a great work ethic and a solid, professional approach to journalism in print and online. She has a bright future.”
The O’Toole Family Foundation of Short Hills, New Jersey, began the scholarships in 2004 to honor Trayes. Terry O’Toole, a 1979 copy editing intern at The Wall Street Journal, and his wife, Paula, have donated a total of $20,000.
Atelsek is a reporter at The Frederick News-Post. She graduated last year from the University of Maryland, with a dual degree in history and journalism. She was actively involved in student media throughout college, working for The Diamondback and Capital News Service.
Q&A with Jillian Atelsek, 2020 Trayes Scholar
Why did you choose an editing internship? What do you like about editing?
I love editing because I love language. I’m fascinated by the power that words hold, and I find it really rewarding to harness that power.
More practically, editing is the perfect field for people who have trouble deciding what they’re most interested in. You get to spend all day learning just a little bit about a lot of things. You get to read great writing and make it even better. And if you do it well, your work directly benefits your readers and helps your reporters grow.
Describe your internship. What is your typical workday like?
I started my copy desk shifts at 3:30 each afternoon, and worked until at least 11:30 each night. On a typical workday, I’d spend time trimming wire copy to fit our spacing requirements and editing it for Post-Gazette style. Then, most days, I’d design and assemble the business section of the paper. Once my pages were submitted, I’d spend the rest of the shift copy editing local stories, writing headlines and cutlines and proof-reading pages for style or grammatical errors.
What advice do you have for student journalists who are interested in editing or applying for a Dow Jones News Fund internship?
If you can, work at your college paper. Besides the obvious opportunities for practical editing experience, I think some of the most necessary and nuanced journalistic conversations happen in student-led newsrooms. They’re such uniquely wonderful places.
Also, consume lots of journalism. Take notes — even if they’re just mental. Stay curious about the world and how it works. And make sure you’ve got sharp writing skills.
What is the most valuable thing you learned from Dr. Trayes?
The two most valuable things I learned from Dr. Trayes work in tandem with each other: Double-check everything you think you know, and never be ashamed to admit what you don’t. Somehow, by making us second-guess ourselves and each other all week, Dr. Trayes managed to instill a really valuable confidence in us. He taught us to ask the right questions without feeling embarrassed and to trust ourselves just the right amount.
What are you doing now? What are your career goals for the next 2-5 years?
Last month, I started as a full-time reporter at The Frederick News-Post, a daily newspaper in the central Maryland county where I grew up. I’m covering agriculture and the environment. In the next few years, I’d like to continue working in local news and helping tell important stories — whether that be in a reporting or editing capacity. No matter which side of the newsroom I end up on, I’ll carry Dr. Trayes’ lessons with me.