Posted October 14, 2010 12:51 pm - Updated October 14, 2010 01:23 pm

Photo editor for a week


Being an editor, specifically a photo editor, is a juggling act.  It's basically middle management - you're constantly running back and forth between your bosses and your photographers.  In the news industry, it's no secret reporters and photographers don't always have the same views as editors.  Sometimes they can flat out despise each other.  It's a give and take sort of thing.  Editors, in an effort to have an idea of what's coming up - always looking for a news angle - need to require something of a plan or schedule, while reporters and photographers are much more comfortable flying by the seat of their pants, as it were, and get news as it develops.  Plus getting quotes, photos and the like takes time, and sometimes sources don't call back in a timely manner or photo assignments fall through.  It's all part of the orchestrated daily/weekly/monthly/yearly dance that is news.

So as I start my fourth day as "bossman," filling in for our visuals director John Curry, I figured I'd give the lowdown on what/how/why we do things here at The Augusta Chronicle (from a staff photographer's view).

My day starts at 9am when I come into the office to check early photo assignments that might have come in last night after I left, or early this morning.  We do this to avoid missing an assignment that needs to be shot the same day, so we can shuffle the schedule and get it done.  This doesn't happen very often (at least so far in my week), mostly because our reporters have a decent grip on their planning budgets so it's rare that something comes in last minute unless they happened to forget or it's breaking news - and even then I'd probably get a phone call.

I then spend a couple of hours preparing for the daily planning meeting at 11am.  This is a meeting between our managing editor, photo editor, sports editor, news editor and sometimes executive editor, which basically lays out what we have for tomorrow's paper.  We talk about photo possibilities, toss around ideas for stories, etc.  It's where the bulk of our content both published and online is talked about. 

After that, I spend the afternoon tracking down file photos we need for the next day, coordinating with photographers if there are any changes in their schedules (there always is, as something falls through or something comes up with higher priority).  As photos come in for newsy events, I make photo galleries or send a photo over to be place on the front page of the website.

At around 430pm or so, I get back with our news editor and our night editor to go over what's actually come to fruition from our original 11am meeting. Some things have been held from previous days so we can run that, and some things need to be held, because the story needs to be polished, or a source didn't call back, or a thousand other reasons.  Between 5 and 6pm is the juggling period.  The "dayside" news editor and photo editor hand off all of the content they have to the "nightside."  This is when stories and photos begin to search for their home in the paper.  Even when you're there and watching, it's still hard to believe all those words, type, photography, break out boxes, Associated Press wire content, weather, sports scores, and a million other things all fall into place on a few designers' computer screens before being sent to the presses at around 1215am.

Meanwhile, I'm back in the photo department going over assignments for the next day.  I distribute them out depending on photographers' schedules and resolve any conflicts in timing.  I send out a text to the photographers who have "go-to" assignments (meaning something that starts at the same time their shift starts) so they know where to go and keeping them from arriving in the office at 11am the next day only to discover they have an 11am assignment in Aiken.  That's not a good feeling, so I try to avoid it if at all possible. 

And that's it.  By the time I'm getting into bed to read a chapter in a book, the newspaper's nearly printed and online content is being refreshed for the next day rollout.

Tomorrow: repeat.