Shaun Mckinnon

Environment Editor and Storytelling Coach, The Arizona Republic/ Education: Utah State University, bachelor’s degree in journalism



Editor and Publisher


Shaun Mckinnon was nominated by a colleague who wrote, “Shaun Mckinnon is that rare person who proves the transformative power of editing. With his counsel, reporters take ideas and reformulate them into stories that make connections, projects that take on physical shape. … But Mckinnon does all this with no glory and almost no fame. … The reporters win contests and accolades. Mckinnon, usually unnamed, is the one who finds their voice. … Each year, Mckinnon must find and recruit two new environmental reporting fellowships. … And this may be his greatest achievement: Years after beginning this fellowship program, he has turned out nearly a dozen fellowship alumni. All of them have learned to work as expert environment reporters, and all but one still work as professional journalists today. Mckinnon’s mark on journalism has been mostly unseen, but make no mistake, it has been profound.” What advice do you have for other young professionals who aspire to become an editor extraordinaire? Work as a reporter and a writer for a while and hone those skills. If you know how to report and write well, you’ll probably be a stronger editor. Being able to talk with reporters and compare experiences is worth a lot. And work with good editors because you’ll learn more from them than from any other source. What are some typical questions you get from young reporters, and how do you answer them? Most of the good questions I hear are related to finding story ideas or developing the ideas they have. It’s usually a matter of working with them to get past the “noun” stage, when the idea is so broad that it’s intimidating. We work to narrow the idea to a couple of questions. Or, if it’s a question of how to get to that point, I ask them to tell me what they think the story idea is about and talk it through until they start to hear the threads they need.