Multimedia Editors: The Accidental Scholars

Most people have to wait until the end of the workday or the weekend to soak up culture, whether it’s sitting back and reading a book, going to the theater or a concert, or watching the news.  But here at NCC, our Editors have the opportunity to experience culture even while sitting at their office desks.  Each day, their work  includes projects like the following:  listening to Michael Cunningham give a book talk at the Library of Congress Book Festival; or polishing a transcript of a panel discussion among policy-making heavyweights for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  In the Multimedia Division at NCC, our work gives our editors the opportunity to learn about virtually anything directly from those who created, shaped, or initiated the very events often headlining the news.

The range of information is vast; books we’ve been reading or looking forward to reading: now we know why the author was compelled to write the story.  Movies we’ve been anticipating: we hear how the actors came to prepare for the role.  Real-life events that pop up in the headlines in the morning are often being discussed, transcribed, and edited by us that afternoon.  No topic is off-limits, no idea too old or new, no stone left unturned.

Perhaps the one of the best perks of the job are the surprises that come our way.  When Multimedia Editor Sawyer Smith began to work on a talk from the Library of Congress’ Book Festival, he’d never read anything by author James Swanson before, and didn’t know anything about the topic of his most recent book.  By the end of the day however, Sawyer was making plans to buy and read the book, Manhunt: the 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer.  Why?  “This isn’t a guy who looked up stuff on the Internet,” Sawyer explains. “He did the legwork.”  Hearing about this author’s personal dedication to his material in his own words, in his own voice, was a powerful motivator to read his book.

At NCC, our work enriches our experiences of life by teaching us new things about topics we are already familiar with and by introducing us to new ideas.  Maybe they’ll become our new passion; maybe they won’t.  But no matter what, we come out of the experience a little more knowledgeable — and a little more curious about what’s next.