After the launch of our series, we heard from a few about you who wanted to participate in the new Day in the Life feature.
Up next, we’re thrilled to profile Megan Carpentier, executive editor at Raw Story. Follow along as we learn from one of the best in the business.
8:00 a.m.: My first alarm goes off (but some days, the cat jumps on me chest around 7:30 to demand attention which, given that he weighs 20 pounds, is a wake-up call I’m still getting used to). Though I always check email before bed — my night editor leaves at 12:30 a.m. ET — I generally have about 50 emails in my work Inbox and another 10 personal, including the occasional one from my day shift reporters and editors, a bunch of morning mass e-mails from other sites that give me a sense of what my competitors think the story of the day is, a few tips and the general detritus. If I’m really out of it, I scroll through Instagram and show my cat pictures of other cats to make him jealous. Oh, and of course I check Twitter.
8:45 a.m.: My second alarm goes off to remind me I have to be online in 15 minutes. This gives me enough time to reflexively reset my router, listen to a few minutes of “Fox and Friends” so I want to poke things in my ears, and brush my teeth before my commute.
8:59 a.m.: I commute to my office, which is actually just next door to my bedroom. I try not to step on the cat. I work off a Mac laptop — I always say I’m going to get a monitor but never do, and having a smaller screen actually helps me make judgments about the front page and picture/video placements — since we want to be able to see what most of our readers see to make sure that videos and pictures aren’t being formatted strangely. There’s an old PC around for back-up and testing purposes. I also have a Nexus tablet (and access to someone else’s iPad) nearby to help replicate reader experiences on mobile devices. We have an Android app (and Kindle app) in development now, but we launched an iPad app last year and I’ve needed to train my editors (and myself) on the importance of good visuals and ways of finding art that works for both the formatting on the web and on the app (which is slightly different). I also have a Droid 2 for the few iPhone hold outs in NY media (I won’t name names) because I can’t deal with my own typos on touchscreens. I use it for work emails constantly when I’m not at a computer, and have even written pieces when I’ve been in a crunch, so the physical keyboard feels really necessary.
9:00 am: I get online just as the first few originally written pieces are being published (our earliest editor pulls stories from our wire services), which includes the previous night’s Colbert clip. Our whole office is virtual — our managing editor, Kay Steiger, is in DC, and we’ve currently got editors and writers in Massachusetts, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and northern and southern California — so (taking a page from my former employer, Talking Points Memo) we use a Skype chat room to communicate and coordinate. We do edits in individual chats, though — no one needs to see how other people make sausage even when they themselves are butchers. I tend to read back through the last hour to see where everyone is, comment on pitches or provide background, and then start looking at Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr for new story ideas, weird news and the widest variety of stuff with which people are currently obsessed. I have a few Google news alerts that are total lifesavers on slow news days, so I tend to go through those around this time, just in case.
10:00 am: I reward myself with my first cup of coffee and breakfast (turkey breakfast sausage usually, but occasionally Cheerios). This is an old habit from my days at Jezebel, when my first piece was due at 10:00 a.m. (a watercooler-chat-cum-news-roundup called “Crappy Hour”), which required that I be reading and writing furiously from at least 8:30-10:00 if not earlier. Working at home, I need to have incentives to meet my goals and just to move around, as well as to disconnect from the news fire hose for a few minutes to generate my own ideas.
10:10 am: As we’re winding down the morning rush, I go back through my emails and respond to anything that isn’t morning-rush related, keep an eye on Twitter and Tumblr and keep up with Facebook. I know Facebook is much-derided nowadays, but it helps me keep up with what my competitors are writing (and promoting, which is maybe more important) and, since I long-ago limited my “Friends” to people I know in the meatspace (as our publisher Roxanne Cooper calls it), I see updates and news shares not just from people I know now but from old HS and college friends scattered around the country and world, which I feel helps me get an even better sense of what people are reading, talking about and sharing outside of the bubble of politics junkies and media folks. (Plus, our readers are definitely more Facebook people than Twitter or Tumblr people, though we’re working to expand on both.)
I also start looking for something to either report on, for the main site, or to comment on, for our editorial blog (Raw Meat). In the mean time, I’m editing pieces, assigning some stories, obsessively checking our traffic on Chartbeat and reading through other sites’ newsletters (like MuckRack!) that come in the mid-morning to stay up-to-date on the stories of the day, what other sites and editors are doing and what is going on in both journalism and politics in general. If I’m working on a piece, reported or otherwise, I try to start it early enough that I can get it done before I need to absolutely eat lunch rightthisminute, but multitasking can make that difficult.
If you thought journalism was glamorous, this might disabuse you of the notion! But… there are cat pictures.
Unfortunately, at some point, all the line breaks disappeared, rendering it difficult to read and so, in honor of my CBC appearance to discuss it, I reproduced it below.
When my victim’s advocate called me up the week after I was assaulted, she went over the rape kit results and what I could expect from the process, and asked me if I had any questions. I asked her if they could tell me the name of the man who had been arrested for assaulting me, and I heard her shuffle through papers. His name, she said, was “Hey-zeus” after which I started laughing.
An agnostic, I was raped by Jesus.