The Weekly: Digital Managing Editor Erica Schmitt and Photo Editor Kimberly Espinosa talk Week 2

Mika Ellison, Audio Editor



In this week’s episode of The Weekly, Digital Managing Editor Erica Schmitt and Photo Editor Kimberly Espinosa talk Week 2 of Spring Quarter, explain The Daily’s editing chain and look forward to Dillo Day.


MIKA ELLISON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Mika Ellison. This is The Weekly: a podcast that breaks down our top headlines each week. This week, for the first recap of the quarter, I spoke with Digital Managing Editor and Medill sophomore Erica Schmitt and Photo Editor and Medill freshman Kimberly Espinosa about their first week on the job and what they’re looking forward to most this quarter.

MIKA ELLISON: At the Daily Northwestern, each story goes through an extensive editing process, also known as “The Chain.”

[chain clinking sound effect]

MIKA ELLISON: Each article is edited by an assistant,


MIKA ELLISON: Then a desk editor, such as the audio or city editor,


MIKA ELLISON: Then a managing editor,


MIKA ELLISON: Then the copy desk and finally, our editor in chief.


MIKA ELLISON: Here’s Erica explaining the difference between her current position as digital managing editor and her previous role, audio editor.

ERICA SCHMITT: (As) audio editor, I was handling more of the day-to-day things with audio, whereas now I’m overseeing audio with Mika. I’m kind of taking on more of a leadership position. I do like both roles, I just will say that (as) digital managing I have a responsibility to make sure everything’s running smoothly across more desks. So my mind is kind of scattered between different areas of The Daily, whereas last quarter, I was solely focusing on audio.

MIKA ELLISON: She says her position has given her a renewed appreciation for the editing process at The Daily.

ERICA SCHMITT: I used to be like, “Oh, the chain, like you don’t really need the chain,” especially when I was a reporter here. But now that I’m on the managing, I’ve kind of realized there’s a lot of things people might miss, including myself as managing. Copy checks a lot of things that I might not be able to check. The other night, I was editing a piece as editor in chief because it was our editor in chief’s content. When I was acting as that point, I realized there was a significant thing within our data visualization, like a fact error. And so things like that, I’ve just noticed, like they can easily slip by.

MIKA ELLISON: I asked Erica about her favorite moments so far this quarter.

ERICA SCHMITT: The other day, we had this amazing data visualization by our own editor in chief Alex Perry, and I really, really loved it. It was a(n) interactive one that related to Evanston’s vacancy rates within downtown Evanston and the overall region of downtown Evanston. I thought that one was amazing because you could click play, and it kind of goes through the different months, and you see the drops of when COVID hit and when those vacancy rates increased, when they decreased. I thought that was super cool and I really hope to see more content like that. And another thing is Mika — she just released the first Digital Diaries (of the quarter). We’re on season three already, which is kind of crazy. And it’s the first episode and it was amazing, and we had it posted on the Instagram and I think that’s like revolutionary for multimedia, because we haven’t had that much representation in the past. So I’m super excited to like already see a post going up.

MIKA ELLISON: And you started Digital Diaries when you were an audio assistant fall quarter. So, what is it like to sort of see a project you started continue on?

ERICA SCHMITT: Yeah, okay. Honestly, I’m so, so happy it continued. I just wanted to have like a more weekly regular podcast, and one of my goals when I went in as audio editor last quarter was to try to create more stable content each week. So we revamped certain projects, and one of them was Digital Diaries. Me, Mika and another former assistant Anita Li, who is now our Devo Editor (development and recruitment editor) — basically, the three of us took on Digital Diaries every week. We created it and it was a lot of stress. But, I think the outcome and the result was amazing.

MIKA ELLISON: Is there anything you’re specifically looking forward to this quarter?

ERICA SCHMITT: One thing I will say is like with promotional content, some things we’re doing is we’re posting audio clips, and we’re planning to post video clips on the Instagram as posts, which will get a lot more engagement, which I think is super, super important. We’re also trying to create promotional content to get people to join our desks.

MIKA ELLISON: What advice would you give to those who are considering going into multimedia journalism?

ERICA SCHMITT: One big piece of advice I would give, and I think a lot of other previous digital managing editors would also give is: Do not be afraid to try it. I think digital is very scary and intimidating, and that’s kind of what everyone always says. But when I came in my freshman year, I was like, “You know what, I’m gonna just try it out.” And at first, I was overwhelmed. But then the more I did it and the more I would have those conversations with my editors, the more I felt comfortable and the more I could see growth in my content, which I think is one of the most important things, is kind of growing and seeing what you can do and like making that progress. People like Mika and anyone else that takes over any other digital position or runs any of these desks truly, truly cares and wants to see your product be as amazing as it can be. So you can definitely trust us within the process and we will help you through all of it.

MIKA ELLISON: Finally, what would you say to people who are considering joining The Daily or going into journalism in general?

ERICA SCHMITT: I just want to emphasize that if you want to join and you’re not a journalism major, like please, please join. And I think that’s so wonderful to have your input on our team. And I’m super excited and I hope anyone that’s interested comes out and talks to us.


MIKA ELLISON: Next, I sat down with Kimberly Espinosa, the current photo editor.

MIKA ELLISON: Why were you drawn to the position of photo editor?

KIMBERLY ESPINOSA: I think of myself as an artist. So I think it also gives you that sense that you’re like being creative as well. Because, for photojournalism specifically, you’re obviously not supposed to alter or manipulate things. But I think you can still get creative — for example, if you’re doing portraiture photography, that can be a really fun experience.

MIKA ELLISON: It’s Kimberly’s freshman year at Northwestern, and her first edit board position at The Daily, so I asked her how her experience has been so far.

KIMBERLY ESPINOSA: I feel like I’m just getting used to everything now, though, because I can get around now, I guess a little bit more. And I think a lot of it actually has that push of like going out more has kind of been through The Daily, because, otherwise, I think I might have just like stayed in the Northwestern bubble.

MIKA ELLISON: What do you like about photojournalism?

KIMBERLY ESPINOSA: There’s like different ways to connect with your audience and I think one of the best ways is visual storytelling. There’s a lot of things that when they see it, it’s a lot more impactful than just like learning about it through words. I mean, even like social media, when there’s like breaking news, for example on Instagram, you don’t just see writing or text, you always see a photo in conjunction to that. So I would say it’s very important.

MIKA ELLISON: What are you most looking forward to this quarter as photo editor?

KIMBERLY ESPINOSA: I’m really excited about Dillo Day. Dillo Day is gonna be so much fun. I was like, “Okay, if I become photo editor, there’s a potential of like working more like closely with Dillo Day stuff.” And this is also my first Dillo Day, so I don’t even know how that’s going to be but like, just the fact that I’ll be around for sure, because I’m photo editor this quarter, is like super fun. I think it should also be fun for assistants this quarter, because they’re also first years. I’m just ecstatic about the entire experience. And then also just like (the) concert, you’ll be having a good time, listening to music, but also taking photos. So I think it’s a win-win. I’m excited for photographers to like be at Dillo Day and have memories of like contributing to Dillo Day festivities and whatnot. So that’s what I’m most excited about.


MIKA ELLISON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Mika Ellison. Thanks for listening to the first Weekly episode of the quarter. This episode was reported and produced by me. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is myself, the digital managing editors are Ava Mandoli and Erica Schmitt and the editor in chief is Alex Perry. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear next week’s episode on Monday.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MikaEllison23

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