This week was the busiest one yet in terms of hopping around the city.  In addition to learning and working on new tasks and projects in the office, I had to utilize subways and taxis every day to purchase project materials, match paint samples, and take products to studio space outside of Hearst Tower that HGTV uses for some photo shoots.  Because Dickinson’s grant helped me afford public transportation as an option for traveling between my apartment and my internship, I was thankfully already fairly used to getting around before these time-sensitive assignments came my way.

But, for me, one of the most eye-opening experiences of the week was when I was allowed to sit in and observe a board meeting.  At HGTV, board meetings happen all the time; it’s a way for the senior staff to approve and give feedback on all the ideas brewing in the different departments before they can go ahead and actually work on a story/project on their own.  In this particular meeting, the assistant lifestyle editor and the lifestyle director presented a presentation board to the creative director and executive editor of the magazine.  A few questions I’ve had at the beginning of my internship I was able to answer by the end of this shadowing experience.

What are on presentation boards?

Presentation boards are large, white foam boards that are littered all over the office.  In the lifestyle department, we use them to tape photographs of products, inspiration, fabric samples, paint samples, or whatever else that help tell the story of what we plan on including in an upcoming article or section.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Thirteen Going on 30, it’s a less glamorous version of that.  Each photograph on the boards is often sourced, printed, cut-out, and properly credited– this is often my responsibility.  Credits for presentation boards are not very strict since no one outside the office ever sees them.  I usually include information such as the website, brand, dimensions, and price.

What happens during a board meeting?

For this story, the concept was pre-determined by the editor-in-chief and the executive editor of the magazine.  The assistant lifestyle editor stood in the front of the room and briefly explained the different options the lifestyle department had gathered (I often help them pin products and ideas when they ask me to).  Then the creative director goes up to the board and starts ripping it apart.  She took the photos and concepts she liked, while discussing with the executive editor, and taped them onto a blank board.  They discussed and rearranged pictures for a while before deciding what should stay, and what the lifestyle department needs to work on, to be approved at another meeting.  It was amazing to see all the work we put into the board that morning be reduced to only about a quarter of what we gathered in about five minutes.  This is an important step in the beginning stages of an article, however, because it is where the constructive criticism stems from.

How does a story flow from an idea to a finished product?

Once ideas and concepts are approved and complete, a story has to flow through almost all of the departments before moving to print.  It often goes something like this:

Art Department →  Creative Director→ Photo Department → Production → Writer → Editing → Department Editor → Executive Editor → Editor In Chief → Copy/Research → Managing Editor

From there, a story can finally move to print!