A Day in the Life of an Online Editor
Editors in the publishing industry no longer just write and edit stories.
As the editor/anchor/producer of the online site DSNews, Kristin Campbell does a little bit of everything. She writes and edits articles, posts articles on the Web, and produces and anchors a daily Webcast. Given the growing popularity of new media in the publishing industry – DSNews.com is the companion site to Hurst, Texas-based DSNews (formerly REO Magazine), a b-to-b publication serving the default servicing industry – Campbell’s multitasking is not unique. But the speed at which she’s had to learn her uber-edtiing skills is, she joined DSNews in May and the new site, along with its daily Webcasts went live on June 1. Formerly a PR manager for a nonprofit theater and part-time producer for her local NBC affiliate, Campbell, who has a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, recently spoke with Folio: about what it means to be an editor in the changing landscape of the publishing industry.
What is a typical day like for you?
I spend the morning going through the wires and press releases, making calls and getting at least three stories on the Web site. Our previous Web editor, who is now the magazine editor, will contribute stories too and some of our other writers will also. Once I have that done I try to find something that’s the top story of the day and hang my hat on that for the broadcast. And then I start planning the Webcast.
How long does it take you to plan and put together a newscast?
About four to five hours. I have gotten better and if things go smoothly sometimes I can get it done in three hours.
How do you prepare?
When I go in, I have the script ready. Writing for a Webcast is a lot different than writing for a print story. You’re basically writing in fragments and you want to keep everything in the present tense, even if it’s not, so that’s kind of tricky. You’re also trying to get all of the information into something that’s only a minute or two long.
What’s the actual filming like?
We have a one room studio with some lights and a camera, a Canon XL2. And we have an anchor desk and we shoot in front of a green screen. I’ll load the script into the prompter.
Do you have someone filming the segment?
No, I do it myself. I just set up the camera and make sure it’s in the right spot. I can watch myself on the Mac that we have hooked up next to the camera, so I can what it looks like while I’m filming. I press record and I have a remote for the teleprompter. I read the story and once the recording is stopped, I download to video content onto Final Cut Express (editing software), put in the video track and to create graphics I go into a program called LiveType and that already has animations built in. And that’s where I put together all the full screen graphics and we call over-the shoulder graphics. The background animation that you see behind was created by a freelance artist.
And the live shots from outside of the newsroom, who takes those?
I do. I basically go out with the camera and take the shots myself. We’re lucky that a lot of the companies we write about are right here in the local area.
What are some of the mistakes you’ve made along the way?
When we started, we purchased a teleprompter for $800 and wouldn’t work. So I went to buy and basically we rigged our own prompter for a quarter of the price.
So expensive isn’t always better?
No. Also, we use a green screen behind me so that when we’re done shooting we can insert graphics and pictures behind me. And I didn’t realize at first that I’m limited in my color choices that I can where in front of it. You definitely don’t want to wear green and even some blues. Otherwise, I end up looking like a floating head on the screen. So I definitely learned that the hard way.
Do you think it would have been hard for you to pick this up had you not previously worked in televison?
I would be completely lost had I not worked at a TV station. To bang out a broadcast script and boiling these complex stories down, it’s not easy stuff to condense.
How do you keep it interesting?
I try to throw in a little bit of sarcastic humor. I try to keep to short. I read fast to keep the audience up to speed.
It’s only been a couple of months since you launched the Webcasts, but how do you think it’s going?
I know we’ve had over a million hits. I don’t get that much direct feedback, but I know our publisher and our magazine editor gets a lot of good feedback.