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Advanced editing, JMC 413
Online media, JMC 425
Before beginning her doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Freedom Forum fellow, she spent many years as an editor or reporter, most recently at The Virginian-Pilot, where she was the copy desk chief.
She was the top editor at six newspapers in the New York-Connecticut metro area, and news editor at a seventh. Her first newspaper job was taking classified ads in Oxford, England, when not studying for an art history certificate. Her first reporting job was on a daily in Virginia. But her first self-employed job was as editor, publisher and sole staff member of The (Scarsdale, N.Y.) High Point News. She was 7, and the newspapers were painstakingly hand-written and personally delivered in violation of federal postal codes.
Thornton’s interests in newspapers, design, technology and the spread of information are evident in the work she’s done for three academic degrees, all in journalism. Her scholar’s thesis ( Mercy College ) focused on literary journalism. Her master’s thesis ( New York University ) explored the effect of Operation Rescue anti-abortion protests on a small community and its newspaper, of which she was editor. Her dissertation explores how newsroom journalists feel about working in teams organized around non-traditional beats.
Thornton’s non-newspaper work has been published in “TV Guide,” a media management textbook, and elsewhere. Her research involves new media/journalism, professional practice, and the dissemination of information through verbal and visual means. She is active in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s media management and economics and newspaper divisions, American Copy Editors Society, Online News Association and, through marriage, the Virginia Press Association.
Her husband, Randy Jessee, has been active with Virginia newspapers since he was 16 and has overseen the Virginia Press Association newspaper competition for 21 years. He is currently with the (Richmond) Times-Dispatch where he oversees news technology and the adoption of multimedia journalism. The couple was married in VPA headquarters in September 2003.
Both Thornton and Jessee are members of the Society for News Design and ONA, which means they can see each other at least at two conferences.