Getting to Know Marilee Magiera


Title: First V.P. of Proofing Services or Director of Grammatical Engineering
Here since: November 2007

Try to explain what you do at SKAR.
I massage copy so it is smoother, cleaner and error-free. I’m the gatekeeper who checks to be sure the ads and written copy are copacetic before being posted online or going into print.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
The variety … we have such a diverse client base that no two days are ever the same. In the morning I may proof a write-up for a medical journal then copy for a brochure listing a bank’s offerings followed by a game of photo hunt to ensure an ad has all its necessary elements. After lunch there’s a radio script to sound out, a pecan pie recipe that needs reformatting and a directory to crosscheck … oh yeah, and throw in proofing the legal jargon on food coupons. I truly do learn something new every day. I also enjoy my co-workers, many of whom have taught me so much as far as writing, advertising and social media.

Besides the AP Stylebook, what do you read in your spare time?
Historical fiction and the Bat Conservation International (BCI) magazine.

Do you find yourself editing everything you read – whether you want to or not?
Oh gosh yes, I have a heyday with menus. However, when I am reading for enjoyment, it can be annoying since errors will distract me from the content. And I also struggle with my own copy since I have a tendency to overedit myself.

You seem to disappear to Arizona when the weather turns cold. What’s that all about?
I have been going to Phoenix for so many years that I have established friendships there and even routines. There is a temperature element involved as well.

What is a common grammatical mistake that pisses you right off?
Irregardless makes my skin crawl.

If you could change one rule of grammar, what would it be?
It’s not so much what I would change but rather how I should change. Some people think email and texting are causing the bastardization of the English language while others say social media is simply a new form of communication that has evolved. I am just trying to figure out how I fit in and what rules cross the board and apply. (I do think there should be a limit on exclamation points, whether it be a tweet or feature article.)

Tell us a little bit about your professional background – as long as it doesn’t bore people.
My mother, an English major, had a habit of correcting newscasters on TV while my father used to drill me on spelling words. In high school and college, I had fantastic, inspirational English teachers. With all that in my pocket, I was able to score a job as a copy messenger at the Tribune in San Diego where I moved up the ranks, followed by positions in the Omaha World-Herald newsroom.

Try to think of something interesting about yourself and share it.
I’m a big supporter of bats and have been a member of Bat Conservation International for years. It started in my dentist’s office. While waiting for my turn in the chair, I picked up a National Geographic magazine that featured an article on bats. That’s all she wrote.

What is it like to work at SKAR?
Amazing since it is peopled by such a colorful cast of characters who all bring individual strengths to the table. There is rarely a day that I’m not grateful to be working at SKAR.

People describe you as smart, capable and friendly. True or False?
I work with intelligent, respected and perceptive people. If they said those things, who am I to argue? (FYI: You forgot to mention that they also call me anal.)

What piece of brilliant advice would you give to future writers?
You don’t want your readers to struggle through your words, whether you are writing for a book, newspaper or blog, so don’t be afraid to have another set of eyes look at your copy to see what you may be missing.

If you had a million dollars, what is the first thing you’d buy?
If you caught me on a day in which I was being altruistic, I would fund an animal sanctuary. If I was being self-serving at that particular moment, I would be buying a beach bungalow.

What was your favorite toy as a kid?
The Mattel Talking Learning Machine. It consisted of these 3- to 4-inch plastic tiles with a word and picture on each. You hooked them together then threaded the pieces through this little machine that read off the words in one of languages you chose. We thought it was high-tech before anyone ever used that term.