Colin Smith, Presentation Editor at the Salt Lake Tribune, will be among the 40 presenters at the workshop. We fired a few questions his way:
SND: Your presentation is titled: ‘Preparing for the Big Planned Stories.’ Can you give me two or three examples of how you personally take charge of the process in Salt Lake?
Smith: Like most papers, the Tribune has a few key topics it really loves to sink its teeth into. Elections, the state legislature, the Olympics, Earth Day (well, one time). And, like most papers, we seem to have the copy desk and design staffing of a 7,000-circulation weekly when it comes to those nights. My role here has been to work with the editor(s) responsible for the content and, using their budget with prescribed lengths as a guide, create a pre-designed framework into which the stories flow. So I’m basically taking 20 hours of work and spreading it out over a few days. It’s really the only way to make big events happen anymore. And the same is true no matter the size of the paper. I did the same thing when working at smaller papers. So, really, that’s what this session is all about: What I’ve learned to trying to pull off big news coverage with small production staffs. Basically, forget the giant meetings where all the editors, reporters, experts, bigwigs and ne’er-do-wells hash out The Important Things — it all comes down to you, your templates and planning. Did I mention templates?
SND: If you were getting out of college today, with the skills you have, how would you pursue a career in journalism?
Smith: Designers, in their truest production sense, are on the way out. Journalists are still quite in demand. A journalist who can intelligently weave words and visuals to tell stories and move readers are revered. The graduates of today should be grounded in typography, color theory and design fundamentals, of course, but should also be comfortable with narrative and technology in a way that was actually discouraged when I first joined papers.
SND: What will I get from attending the SND workshop in person, as opposed to just following the blogging or skipping it?
Smith: Even if you don’t introduce yourself to one other person there (you will) or walk away with great ideas you can use (you will), the ability to talk with brilliant, dedicated people in the industry, if only to bounce your own ideas around, is priceless ‹ and can’t be replicated by reading handouts or watching a webcast. Attending the SND conference has the ability to fill your work with meaning, and your views of journalism as a whole with promise.
And take a look around the SND Denver website here (lots of things to see and do while you’re in Denver and Colorado).