editor training

Listen First: The Key to a Good Edit

Jun 17, 2014

Every edit NPR Western Editor Jason DeRose does begins with him listening to the reporter read the story aloud while he/she plays the actualities on tape. "Each piece has to work as radio," DeRose says. It's important to remember that the listener will not have the reporter's script in front of them. 

During a "first edit," DeRose listens and times the story, but he says that he's also thinking of his emotional response. This leads to the "macro edit", during which he addresses problems with the structure, narrative, flow, fairness and/or balance. When it comes to actualities, DeRose says, "Keep people together, don't bounce around with your sources."

After what should be no more than a 15-minute edit, the reporter is expected to spend the next hour re-working their piece. 

DeRose demonstrated a first edit in front of a live audience members during a session at the PRNDI conference in Washington, DC. Deena Prichep, a freelancer based in Portland, OR called in with her story on raw milk.