The sky’s the limit: Baker’s career proves editing takes you anywhere
By: Jessica Larkins
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
From a young age, Brett Baker knew that he would grow up to become a broadcaster.
“When I was 8, every Sunday I would watch the “NFL Today” and after that “60 Minutes” would come on,” he said. “I wanted to do a combo of that.”
Little did Baker know that his career would take him far beyond the traditional newsroom.
Baker, the executive producer of the Nebraska News and Information Network and producer of KOLN-TV’s 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows, has been a broadcaster for more than 25 years. His career has taken him to over 17 countries and he has taken on many roles as both a producer and a reporter. In 2016, he won a Heartland Regional Emmy Award for the evening newscast in smaller markets.
Through his many jobs, one thing remained constant: the importance of editing.
Baker grew up in Malcolm, Nebraska, and graduated from Malcolm High School.
He briefly attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he majored in journalism, but he quickly realized that college wasn’t for him.
“I was a bad student,” he said. “I was wasting my time and my parent’s money. I needed to get my life on track.”
Baker decided to join the military. His stepfather was in the Air Force, inspiring Baker to join that branch of the military because “they take care of you.”
After Baker joined the Air Force, he attended broadcasting school in the military and was a reporter for the Air Force for nine years. While he was in the Air Force, he was stationed at many bases; everywhere from Korea to England.
During his time in the military, Baker gained great broadcasting experience.
“One of the great things about the Air Force was they spent money on equipment and training,” he said.
Because of this, transitioning from the military newsroom to a traditional newsroom wasn’t difficult for Baker. He said that the experience he gained in the military led to the opportunity to become a producer.
Baker was the senior sports producer at KSAT-12 in San Antonio, Texas, for more than 10 years after he left the military. Editing became a crucial part of his job as a producer.
When editing is poor in a story, it is one of the first things that viewers notice, Baker said. Good editing makes viewers focus on the content of the story rather than all of the mistakes. Baker emphasized that audio editing is very important for students to learn because it puts a viewer “that much closer to a story.”
“It took me a long time to become a good editor,” he said. “You only get better doing it time and time again.”
Editing is an important part of everyone’s job at the station, not just producers and directors. People working at a smaller station like 10/11 have many more jobs to do compared to bigger stations. That leaves less time for self-editing, but Baker said that it is still important. Reporters need to be able to self-edit.
Baker had some advice for aspiring broadcasters and journalists. He said students should learn the fundamentals of editing and audio weaving and become excellent storytellers.
Good editing skills “can be one of those things that sets you apart,” Baker said. “It’s undersold in schools.”