Alumni designs way to the top

By Crystal Cherry

Staff Writer

 

The room was silent until a faint pencil thumping upon the desk pierced the stillness like sunlight through a cloud. Using Adobe InDesign on her 27-inch Apple monitor, Nancy Black squinted her eyes, tilted her head and began formatting the layout of the newspaper.

The co-founder and current editor-in-chief of White Rock Lake Weekly newspaper, Black publishes the paper on a weekly basis for the White Rock community.

Her expertise was kindled at Brookhaven College, where she wrote and edited for The Brookhaven Courier between 1998 and 2000. Dr. John Neal, professor of journalism, said she was intelligent, dynamic and an avid learner. “Her most important contribution was a big step forward in the progress of the digital production of the paper,” Neal said.

Black said Neal gave her the idea of becoming an editor when he noticed Black would often correct misspellings and grammatical errors in the Courier.

“Nancy learned how to save the entire contents of an issue of the paper to a disk. At the time Nancy was editor, using the disks was a significant change,” Neal said. “The disk could be given to the printer and the printing plates could be made directly from the disk.”

Black earned a full scholarship to Southern Methodist University, where she wrote and edited for the student newspaper and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She went on to write for WFAA-TV news on Channel 8 in Dallas.

“After working for Channel 8, I got a cool job as director of development for the Texas Chapter Lone Star Emmy Awards. I did this for about three and a half years,” she said.

Andy Simpson, Black’s coworker at White Rock Lake Weekly, described her as the star of their newspaper show. “I could not have asked for a better partner. She is the reason why the paper comes out every week and is very attentive to detail,” he said.

At the beginning of each new issue of the paper, Black starts out with a blank screen that by the end of the week she transforms into an organized newspaper layout, complete with stories, ads and pictures.

As she sat at her desk surrounded by stacks of papers and previous issues of “White Rock Lake Weekly,” she said: “We receive many stories from the public, and the placement of ads just depends. We don’t want to fill up an entire page full of stories.”

In June of 2007, Black came across an ad on Craigslist seeking an editor for a locally owned newspaper. She answered it, not expecting to be starting a newspaper from scratch.

Simpson had placed the ad and originally wanted to advertise real estate businesses in East Dallas, but that idea changed.

Black and Simpson decided to create the paper from scratch. “We started off with just free ads and dummy ads and now, five years later, the paper is booming,” Black said as she smiled. She said when it comes down to it, it is about helping the community.

“You must be willing to take risks, because you never know where you will end up.”

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