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On Being An Editor

10/09/2006 -02:00 AM

I’m really glad I had the opportunity to hear and see John Skipper, executive vice president of content at ESPN, speak at MPA’s “Breakfast with a Leader” last Friday at the University Club in New York.

Skipper was invited to speak about how he’s learned to effectively create and place content throughout all of ESPN’s platforms, which include television, radio, publishing, mobile and, even T-shirts, to name a few.

What was great about the breakfast is not just what Skipper talked about, but how he presented it. Skipper’s one of those rare people who is as entertaining as he is intelligent. He’s what my husband would call a “real cool dude.” To put it simply, he’s a real funny and personable guy and knows how to use his sense of humor to keep the crowd focused and draw them into what he’s speaking about.

One statement Skipper made particularly resonated with me. Speaking about his experience in the magazine industry, Skipper said this, “My experience with magazines has served me well. I get to work on things I know nothing about. I don’t think I had ever been on the Internet and I was hired to be in charge of it.”

Those few sentences speak volumes. People are always saying it’s an exciting time in publishing right now because of the new media evolution that’s taking place. But it’s actually an exciting time for people who work in publishing, especially on the editorial side. Because the digital media evolution means that we’re no longer just writers, reporters or editors.

I interviewed a woman named Kristin Campbell back in August for our Folio: Publishing Technology e-newsletter. As the editor of, she’s a great example of being more than just an editor because, in addition to writing and editing copy daily on her company’s Web site, she also shoots and edits videos, takes pictures, and anchors and writes a daily newscast.

That’s what’s so exciting about publishing right now. We’re no longer just editors. We’re Web site and e-newsletter designers. We’re videographers, photographers, bloggers and whatever it is that you call someone who creates content for mobile devices. To some, that might be overwhelming. And it might be looked at with dread and the feeling that it is just that much more we have to add to our already busy days.

But to the rest of us, it’s a journey. It’s the chance to do a million different things. Is there a chance that some of us will over extend ourselves in our zeal to do everything and be everything? Yes (I’ve been guilty of as much).

As journalists, most of us have always had the opportunity to write about things we know nothing about. Today, we have an opportunity to work on things that we know nothing about. What could be more exciting than that?

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