Video editor’s persistence aids unexpected career opportunity
By Morgan Rezac
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
While filling out an application to Subway after graduating from the college, Allison Spalter never imagined she would receive a phone call with an offer for a job interview at one of Kansas City’s top news stations.
After struggling to find a job after graduation from the Kansas City Art Institute with a major in video and news media and emphases in editing and motion graphics, Spalter applied at KSHB-TV Channel 41 Action News in Kansas City. Although she had never worked in a newsroom, had no television broadcasting experience and met few of the requirements, Spalter still applied.
Three weeks later, Spalter resorted to filling out a job application at Subway and going to food pantries for groceries. As she was applying for that Subway job, Spalter’s now boss at KSHB-TV called and offered her an interview.
“It was unbelievable to have a meeting there,” said Spalter, who visited the station in the eighth grade for a job shadow. “I sat in a room with people I had been watching since I was 14. It was crazy.”
Spalter is now a video editor and content coordinator at KSHB-TV.
Spalter edits videos for television packages and tunes in live microwave and satellite shots. She also decides which clips best describe the stories that go on television.
“Editing is kind of like quilting because you can tell eight different stories just by changing up the pace, color or angle,” Spalter said during a phone interview. “There is a freedom to it that you don’t get when you write the story.”
The hardest part of Spalter’s job is deciding which videos should be shown to the public. During a typical morning show when Spalter was on duty, breaking news interrupted with information about a shootout between police and a suspect. During the feed, the police shot the suspect. The feed did not show the shooting, but the video did stream the paramedics carrying the suspect on a stretcher to an ambulance.
“The suspect wasn’t dead at the time, but he had died by the time I got to the office,” Spalter said. “The editor wanted the video to keep playing. I had a hard time showing the scene because he looked dead on the stretcher.”
After expressing her concerns to the news director, the video was still shown, but Spalter switched duties with a coworker so she wouldn’t have to show the footage.
“The hardest part of the job is making sure you aren’t showing the family down the street an image of someone dead or dying,“ Spalter said.
When a difficult situation arises, Spalter advises editors to find someone to talk to about whether to run certain images and videos.
“Talking about it helps a lot,” Spalter said.
As an editor, Spalter is put in some tough situations. Although difficult, she enjoys the control she has to show certain images, clips or stories.
Although Spalter’s main focus is video, she has had success in writing as well. After begging her boss for more work to do, Spalter began her own project. She produced a five-minute package about a Holocaust survivor who is a tailor.
“I spent 16 hours on that package,” Spalter said. “I wanted to show my producers that I could handle more work.”
Spalter’s hard work earned her a nomination for a local Emmy. In order to be nominated for the award, a news station must submit the package.
“There will be days that you are amazed by your job and those stories will make up for the really bad stories,” Spalter said.
Looking back, Spalter is amazed she made it this far at the station.
As a part of the interview, Spalter edited a news script on the spot, put two video clips together and handed in a demo reel.
“I didn’t think I would get the job,” Spalter said. “After three weeks of waiting, I called the station four times to ask if they had made a decision.”
Spalter screamed into her new boss’s ear when she received a job offer. Throughout the interview process, Spalter learned an important lesson about the news industry: The concept of time is warped because of how rapidly things change.
“There is a constant stream of news,” Spalter said. “There will be breaking news everyday.”
As a college student, Spalter fell in love with editing film footage and found a passion for music videos with a story line. She even helped a professor teach a video editing class as a teacher’s assistant. Her professors encouraged her to pursue gallery editing.
However, Spalter knew she needed a different career path to help pay off loans. She had interned for an event planner, but that did not satisfy her.
For her senior thesis, Spalter started her own pilot television station, an uncommon project for her small, liberal arts school. Remix TV, Spalter’s station, was picked up by its first receivers through antenna television during an episode of “Lost”. While riding the bus in Kansas City the next day, Spalter overheard two people discussing their curiosity about the broadcast that interrupted the show. Although her pilot station only broadcast within a 10-mile radius on antenna televisions, Spalter considered her senior thesis a success.
“I love TV,” Spalter said. “I’m kind of obsessed with it to a point where it’s unhealthy.”