Hangin’ Out With Helen

Yesterday, during a lull in Helen Karakoudas’ deadline-packed day as managing editor of Wednesday Journal, Inc., I spent a few hours interviewing her for a story in Medill magazine.

Hers is a remarkable journalism journey. A highly coveted editor coming out of college 25 years ago, Helen worked for two years at the Charlotte Observer.
With a marriage in the offing, she left there in July 1985 and moved to Massachusetts, where she figured she’d find another editing job and continue along her career path. It wasn’t until 18 years later, however, that re-entered the field when The Dallas Morning News had the wisdom to hire her.
To learn more, you’ll have to read my profile, still in draft mode and coming out in the fall.
I first met Helen in March 2003, when she attended the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) conference in Chicago. She sat in on my session on numeracy (Go Figure: Making Numbers Count), introduced herself and, one way or another–I forget if she offered or if I asked–began voluntarily editing my Go Figure column to whip it into markedly better shape before I sent it to state press associatons across the country.

Helen, by far, is the most skillful, insightful and inspired editor I’ve ever had in my career. No word, punctuaction mark, sentence structure, transitional phrase–or any other element–is too trivial for her to cross-examine, re-work, or otherwise upgrade. Of this I am certain: Helen would have a field day with that last sentence. And this one.

It was no surprise to me, then, that the Morning News brought her aboard shortly after we met. In February, to my delight, she came to my neck of the woods by becoming m.e. of the Wednesday Journal, Inc., which produces nine weekly papers. She now oversees a staff of 15 full-timers and about 20 freelancers.
The one drawback to my writing about Helen for the alumni magazine: journalistic ethics prevent her from editing the piece!

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