My life as a newsroom assignment editor
I’m doing PR full-time, but in my spare time, I work on call at Hawaii’s ABC affiliate, KITV Island News. Here, in my 20th year as a TV newsperson, I’ve become an assignment editor, which means I assign the crews their daily stories to cover, and monitor the flow of information to ensure we have the most updated and comprehensive information for the shows and web.
News is reactive, so it’s common to receive information late in the day that will change the direction of the evening coverage. If it’s a fire or an accident, I need to redirect the field crews to cover it, then work with the show producers to rearrange the stories. If it’s a late-breaking press conference regarding some huge issue (often, political or public policy), I need to pull someone off a story and put them on that.
Occasionally, I report. I also post stories to the web and I update our social media feeds. These are all roles I can play when there’s short staffing. I’m a pinch hitter.
I’m clarifiying this because understandably, it’s confusing when people see my PR website, but then they see my story on air or my byline on a web post. The answer is: I’m doing both.
It wasn’t a plan for me to return to a newsroom after I left my last one (KHON/ FOX) in 2016. Every time I leave news (twice now), I’ve always thought it was for good.
That’s not a mark of bitterness. It’s a reflection on my attitude to have gratitude for what was, and move with optimism into what is.
Conversely, I’ve concluded every work experience with love and closure, and have always been amazed I was lucky enough to work my passion. It’s important to love what you do.
Shortly after I opened this PR firm, my friends at Island News suggested I work there part-time because they needed another person “on the desk,” as it’s called. The call came out of the blue. I spent my previous 19 years in news as talent, so I wasn’t sure I could make the transition to behind-the-scenes for a job I formally had never held.
In news, one ends up wearing many hats (I’ve also been a news photographer, editor, TelePrompter operator, and assistant producer), so it wasn’t hard. It was a logical extension of my skill set.
Convinced by my friends that it would be fun to reunite, I accepted. It’s brought me more joy than I expected, and I had already expected it would be good.
I’m proud to work in KITV’s newsroom. The station is wonderful. The people are fantastic and have embraced me. The work is fulfilling.
I really enjoy being an assignment editor! It’s an incredibly demanding job, and I leave tired- but happy. I have always liked the pace and excitement of a newsroom, and I’m delighted to be part of it now and then.
It’s not common, but on occasion there’s a hybrid like me: someone who works in public relations AND media. The agreement is I don’t assign coverage on any clients. I can pitch the story, but I leave it alone after that. I would be remiss if I didn’t honor this.
One’s reputation is everything, and I want to maintain a reputation as ethical and professional. I am extremely sensitive to this and work to keep a divide between my worlds.
I’m called in about three to seven days a month, and I love it. I also love my PR work. It’s a joy, really, to have found this niche. While it might appear to the casual observer, hectic to juggle two jobs, it’s not. It brings me more balance than I could have imagined.
Life continues to surprise. This one is a happy surprise.