Q & A with Dana Canedy, senior editor at the New York Times
Ever since she was a young girl, Dana Canedy was the kind of kid that would frequently ask the question “Why?” With that kind of psyche, she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer.
“I literally grew up writing,” Canedy said. “I knew I wanted to be a writer since the time I was twelve years old.”
After being the first in her family to graduate from high school, she took her love of writing to the University of Kentucky-Lexington. Canedy volunteered for internships, calling publications if she could work for free. By her sophomore year, Canedy’s work got her the attention of other publications.
“By the time I was a sophomore, I already had clips and bylines and had two internships on my résumé,” Canedy said. “So, when I was going for paid internships, they were like, ‘Wow, you’ve already done two internships. How’s that possible? We definitely want to talk to you.’”
In her junior year, she received an internship from the Wall Street Journal, and following college she went to work for the West Palm Beach Post as a police beat reporter for about a year, which did not work out for her.
“It was a disaster,” Canedy said. “It wasn’t a good fit for me. It wasn’t a good fit for them.”
Following her departure from the West Palm Beach Post, Canedy went on to work for the Cleveland Plain Dealer where she thrived and worked for eight and a half years until she joined the New York Times.
As a reporter for the New York Times for nine and a half years, she covered stories ranging from race relations to spending time with a murderer and learning how and why he killed.
She was then promoted to senior editor for two and a half years until she took a year and a half off to write her book, A Journal for Jordan. The book was about Charles King, Canedy’s then partner, who wrote 200 journal entries to their son, in case he did not make it back from his tour in Iraq.
“On the last page,” Canedy said. “He wrote a letter saying, ‘Son, this is everything I could think of to teach you to be a man if I don’t make it home to be your father.’”
One month before he was due home, King was blown up by a bomb. Their son was six-years-old.
“I knew I could write about it like nobody else could,” Canedy said. “And I wanted to honor Charles and create a way for my son to know his father and it was a way for me to do something positive with my grief.”
Following her time off to write the book, she resumed her current position as senior editor, where she is responsible for newsroom hiring, recruiting and training. For students looking to go into journalism, Canedy offers words of advice.
“Learn and master the basics of your profession,” Canedy said. “Because you can’t think bigger, you can’t create opportunities for yourself if you don’t know how to do your job.”