My Name is Lee and I'm a Print Media Dinosaur
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My Name is Lee and I'm a Print Media Dinosaur

My Name is Lee and I'm a Print Media Dinosaur

EverythingBrevard Managing Editor Lee Nessel and daughter, Ella, in 2017

When Tracy Stroderd, EverythingBrevard CEO and publisher, told me that we would no longer be printing a magazine, I felt the expected shock, dread and heartbreak. But it was short-lived. 

As someone whose journalism career began with me pitching in with the paste-up team after I cleared my sports pages to finish slicing the printed agate (sports scores) with a blade, run it through the wax machine and paste it into columns, I’ve seen media evolve.

And I’m not that old. But I was on the front lines of digital change when I worked at our county’s daily newspaper, FLORIDA TODAY, for 13 years. I remember learning basic code as we built our own website, and I taught myself Flash to make interactive web graphics. A few years later, I was among the first class of print journalists across parent company Gannett recruited to learn videography and video editing. Print journalists shooting video? It was the new way.

Soon after, I wrote, produced and co-hosted a sports show recorded in the in-newsroom studio. We print journalists were finding our digital voice.

I had freelanced for magazines from my earliest days as a fresh journalism college grad. Living in Key West allowed me access to unique stories of interest to scuba diving and travel magazines — some of which folded or went digital long before the current digital revolution.

People have been declaring for years that print media is dying, but storytelling never will. And the pace of content consumption only grows. More, faster, shorter, longer, video, with subtitles, audio (love when a media outlet “reads” articles to me so I can cook at the same time). It’s exciting to look upon the evolution and know we are only going to continue to progress.

Behind every printed piece of media you’ve held in your hands (or viewed the equivalent digital page), there is an editor who had to slice those articles to fit precisely into the inch count of the pages. 

This has been among my master skills — more than 25 years of editing for verbal efficiency, clarity and impact. I’ve had to slice hundreds of words, even up to 1,000, from single articles. The greatest compliments I’ve received are from the writers who said they didn’t even realize what was missing. While I love unleashing my inner word nerd, I will not miss having to trim those last few words to squeeze max inch count.

My print media dinosaur self sees so much contrast with my daughter’s generation. Video calls and virtual playdates happened before the pandemic, but they became youth’s saving grace during it (perhaps for all of us!?)

Ella, who turns 10 this March, may never hold in her hands a daily newspaper like I spent the first 16 years of my career creating. OK, I’ll make sure she does, because I want her to understand the artform. At least she’s been here for each of the EverythingBrevard magazines I’ve helped create since 2017. But her life is reading and consuming digitally. That is the way.

She attends Florida Virtual School, does virtual auditions, and about those virtual playdates — one time, she sang a duet live with her friend in England! This will continue to be the way.

NOTE: Lee wanted to find a nostalgic photo from her early print journalism days to go with this article, but alas, they were shot with film — the negatives and printed photos stored in shoeboxes who knows where.

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Lee Nessel
Instagram: @lee_nessel
Twitter: @leenessel

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