Editor's note: We've been taking advantage of our weekday feature, "Utah People, etc.," on Sundays to introduce you to our Deseret News professionals. This week, copy editor Mary Alice Campbell profiles Barbara Gingery, the newspaper's assistant copy chief.
When Barbara White Gingery joined the staff of the student newspaper as a sophomore at Utah State University she was asked if she wanted to be a copy editor. "Sure!" she said. "What's that?"
She didn't suspect then that copy editing would eventually become her career. She has since discovered that most people know as little about copy editing as she did.
"I tell people I write headlines, and they say, `I thought the reporters did that,' " says Gingery. "Explaining what I do can be hard."
Gingery's job at the Deseret News includes checking stories that go into the paper for spelling, grammar, style, accuracy and other possible problems, and then trying to come up with headlines that fit each story and grab readers' attention.
Gingery, who was recently promoted to assistant copy chief, still loves her job after six years.
"The English language has always fascinated me, so it's natural that I ended up in journalism," she said.
Gingery's interest in working with words was stimulated early in her life by her love for books. Though she declared a journalism major when she went to USU, she soon decided she was most interested in English, and switched majors in her junior year.
"I thought I could gain more by studying the classics and other good literature, as well as grammar," said Gingery. "Reading a wide variety of books has helped me with my copy editing."
Gingery first came to the Deseret News when she won an internship for the summer of 1981. "Winning the Newspaper Fund internship was one of the best things that ever happened to me," she said. "It gave me the chance to develop my editing skills and helped me decide on a career in journalism."
Gingery began work full time on the Deseret News copy desk in April of 1982. The biggest change she has seen in the newsroom since then is the introduction of computers. "No more ink stains!" she said. "The operation is faster, smoother and quieter, and I feel we have an even better product now."
The best thing about the Deseret News, however, is the people. "I've made a lot of friends here," she said.
But the Deseret News isn't quite the best thing that has happened to her. In 1986 she met Lyle Gingery, a South Dakota native who came to Utah to work as a state park ranger. When Barbara married Lyle, she adopted his Dalmatian, Diamond Lil, and his cat, Panyon (short for Companion). She enjoys walking Lil, because, she says, kids say such cute things, like, "Does that dog smell fires?" and "Why does that dog have polka dots? Do they come off?"
Besides walking Lil, Gingery enjoys water aerobics, gardening, hiking, travel, movies, ice skating, music and cooking.
Gingery also enjoys community work. She served for three years as a deacon at the First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, during which time she spent hours working with soup kitchens at the church and visiting residents of nursing homes _ something she still enjoys doing.
"I really enjoy helping others," she said. "I'm not one to sit on the sidelines."
Maybe that's one reason she's always making headlines.