Kirstin Wilder on her success: “Perfection in this field is appreciated and necessary”

By Mackenzie Jones, NewsNetNebraska 

Not many can say they’ve lived a fabulous life of red carpets and celebrity interviews, but Kirstin Wilder can. Wilder has her bachelor’s degree in journalism and dual minors in English and Spanish. As an editor and a journalist, Wilder has had a very successful career. She worked for Variety magazine in Los Angeles, California for 20 years. Currently, she is serving as the director of publications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Wick Alumni Center.

Variety magazine is one of the first ever entertainment news publications. It was founded in 1905 as a weekly magazine based in New York City. Sample news stories and publications from Variety can be found here. Three years and a few entry-level positions after her graduation Wilder began working for Variety as a copy editor in Los Angeles. From here, Wilder worked her way up through eight positions all the way to being an international editor for Variety. When asked which position she held was her favorite she said, “I like being manager because ultimately, I like managing people in processes which is something I did for about 7 years,” Wilder said. She explained that she worked in this position during a time where the U.S. economy was imploding. This means she had to figure out how to do her job with much fewer people and much less financial support. Nevertheless, Wilder managed to do this while going above and beyond which lead her to higher promotions at Variety magazine.

While working in the industry Wilder has seen many advancements technologically. She has had to tailor her content to fit these new mediums such as web publications. She said the biggest change when moving from small town Nebraska to a glamorous Hollywood was the advanced technology on the west coast. When she graduated from Nebraska all her papers were written using typewriters. She said this use of typewriters had a huge impact on her being the excellent speller than she is today. Shortly after her graduation, the internet began to take off so Variety was pushed to cater to a more digitalized consumer. Wilder soon found herself coming from the Daily Nebraskan where one would need to hand count headlines. And from there, moved to Los Angeles where they had their own internalized computer system to do things like that for you.

Wilder with Julie Andrews after speaking with her about the importance of mothers for a short while.

In this transition to online print Wilder spoke fondly of the learning experience she and her colleagues went through together. When asked about the challenges they faced with their first online issues she said, “There were a lot of missteps made there because we all just didn’t really know what was going to happen with it and what the proper steps were at that moment. It was cool because I could put my content out online from Hollywood and someone in Nebraska could access that content. That was just something that had never been done before and led to missteps as we began to figure out this new platform.”

As an editor, Wilder was also asked to lead a workshop for journalism students attending the Manaki Brothers film festival in Macedonia. At the time of her workshop, Macedonia was under socialist control by Turkey. Wilder said it became an issue for her when trying to teach these students. “Those college students didn’t know how to write without the government coming in and saying ‘yes you can write this,’  or ‘no you can’t write this.’ We spent a lot of time writing film reviews. They all wrote glowing reviews about all of the local films that were shown because they didn’t feel like they could evaluate them critically.” Wilder gave a lot of insight into how she steered these journalism students towards expressing their true and honest feelings. Once they figured out what their true feelings were, she began teaching them how to articulate those opinions in a proper way for print. Wilder stated that to some of the journalism students in that workshop, “America was kind of their truth.”

Wilder and George Clooney share a laugh together.

Currently, Wilder is working as the director of publications at the Wick Alumni Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. A short biography about her written by the alumni center can be found here. Being so new, many of her mornings are taken up by catching up with what is going on around campus. Campus news, buildings going up, funding and other things that can go into the alumni magazine are all included in her list of things to look over in the mornings. “It’s a lot of effort to get to go see it. But there’s a lot of history on campus so it’s worth the effort.” She also edits the outgoing emails from the colleges which are sent to UNL alumni, all in all running the alumni magazine is big job for anyone, but if there’s one person who can handle it it’s Kirstin Wilder.

When asked what advice she has for journalism students and future editors she says, “Take pride in your work. Understand that perfection in this field is appreciated and necessary. And just say yes to all opportunities know that at the same time you can be particular in jobs you want to take and things like that. But also know you don’t turn down things because you think you’re better than what that is being offered. Be proud and meticulous.”


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