The Science of Journalism
Sarah Knaus, 29, works as the senior editor at the College of American Pathologists in Evanston, Ill., a medical society that serves patients, pathologists and the public through the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2005 with degrees in communication and journalism and a minor in bioethics.
Compass: What is your current job title, and what are the duties and responsibilities of this position?
Sarah Knaus: I am the senior editor/supervisor at the College of American Pathologists. On a day-to-day basis I edit and create content for all proficiency testing kit components including kit instructions, result forms, validated materials, kit inserts, photographs, and CD-ROMs. I ensure that all content is clear, concise, and compelling. I supervise the kit production process, making sure it runs on time and that production deadlines are met. After new products are approved, I mock up drafts of new materials, gathering all the key players (i.e, authors) that need to contribute to the content. I train proficiency testing staff on new processes, ensuring that we are running the business efficiently. This is essential due to the volume of work. Each year, we add roughly 50 new products.
Compass: What led you to this position?
SK: After I graduated from Loyola, I wanted a career that combined my bioethics minor with my journalism major. The College of American Pathologists hired me and it ended up being a great company with a lot of potential for job growth. I started in 2007 and worked my way up from being a level one editor to a senior editor/supervisor.
Compass: What is the best part about being the senior editor/supervisor at the College of American Pathologists?
SK: My favorite part of the job is that every day brings something different. I’m always working on a wide variety of medical pieces with topics ranging from cardiac markers to therapeutic drugs.
Compass: How did Loyola shape your career path?
SK: I was originally a biology major and Loyola helped me discover my dreams in journalism. I thought I wanted to be a doctor but then decided that journalism was my true passion. At the time, Loyola was just beginning to offer a major in journalism. I switched into communication and ended up in journalism. Although I made a lot of steps toward different things, I ended up where my passions were—combining medical topics with journalism.
Compass: What was it like being amongst the first group of Loyola students to graduate with a journalism degree?
SK: There were five of us who were interested in graduating with a journalism degree, so we all had most of our classes together. When I was a communication major, most of my curriculum was all general communication and English based. Towards the end of my senior year, they introduced new journalism classes so I was able to branch out and learn from influential professors like Dr. Mary Pat Haley and others. They were instrumental in guiding our curriculum into journalism and allowing us to graduate with that degree.
Compass: Did you like being part of such a small group of students working toward a journalism major?
SK: I had a lot of one-on-one time with the professors because we were such a small group. All of the journalism majors had a lot of individual attention and encouragement for developing our writing and reporting skills. It was all women in the journalism program at the time and we were all very supportive of each other.
Compass: What did you take away from your Loyola education?
SK: I got a very diverse education in all of my classes. My teachers were from different backgrounds and they all had different approaches. I took a wide variety classes after I finished my core and general education classes, and that opened my eyes to the diversity of the world and what I would be facing after I graduated.
Compass: Any advice for current journalism majors?
SK: Brush up on your technology skills because everything is based on writing for the Internet now. A lot of print publications are either going out of business, or are completely online based. Learning about technology for journalism is essential in today’s market.