Being a DotCom’er in a Beijing Broadcast World
August 14, 2008 9:45 AM
One of the most exciting parts about being over in Beijing, amongst many high points, is that it’s the first time Access Hollywood has had an online staffer travel along with the TV team to an Olympics, which goes a long way to explain how important online coverage has become since 2004 — both to Access Hollywood, and to NBC Universal as a whole.
There are 16 bodies here in Beijing from Access Hollywood — 15 for the television show, and 1, namely, myself, for AccessHollywood.com. We all share a very small space together in the International Broadcast Center, and so we work very closely (figuratively, and literally… together).
Our ratio of on-air to online is pretty much in line with the rest of the NBC Universal team here overall. While NBC has had huge numbers on-air this Olympics, the percentage increase on NBCOlympics.com has been staggering! Only four days into the games, NBCOlympics.com has already surpassed the totals for the entire Athens Games in page views (a 27% jump), unique users (a 52% jump), and video streams (a staggering 514% jump!!!) — and that’s with 12 days of competition left to go!
There are plenty of online journalists here in Beijing, but seriously, I probably have one of the best jobs out of any of them. Sure, there are plenty of sports journalists out here, reporting on results and injuries and doping — but not me — I’m writing about athletes’ personalities, and asking them, ‘Who are your favorite movie stars?’, and running all around town with stars like Chris Tucker — filing articles, and even more fun, doing a lot of digital photography.
Each day, I head out with our show’s field producers and listen to and assist on the interviews that we’re conducting (most of my career has been as an on-air producer). Occasionally, I’ll field produce a shoot here or there if the show can use my help. And like most print and online journalists, I rarely have to use my digital voice recorder, because the TV show is already rolling on the interview.
Sometimes, I ask additional questions for Web to expand on AccessHollywood.com’s original content. Coming up, I’m going to have a few fun original stories that the television show isn’t doing at all (for example, I’ll be catching up with a former “Real World” cast member, who almost made the Olympics [but suffered a horrible injury], and is finally attending his first Olympics ever).
Most interesting, is being on a totally different schedule from the rest of my staff. When they’re asleep, I’m awake — and vice versa! Keeping AccessHollywood.com updated 24/7 is a tough task, but it’s much easier when we’re working on truly staggered shifts. Scheduling conference calls (not to mention, waking up to 250 e-mails each morning!) is difficult, but we’re managing to get by!
It’s also been crazy adjusting to a schedule that has no rhyme or reason, but as journalists, we roll with the punches. This certainly is not your typical 9-to-5 ordeal (something dot.com and TV have in common)! There have been days when I’ve found myself not moving from my computer for 12 straight hours, and there have been other times when I haven’t started my day until 11 AM. Some days, I’ve been able to run out for an hour or two and catch a bit of gymnastics or swimming. Just an hour ago, I watched the 3m men’s synchronized diving finals (the U.S. just missed getting bronze!). The past two nights I’ve headed down to Chaoyang Stadium to watch the U.S. men play in beach volleyball at 10 PM at night Beijing time (my new favorite sport to watch!).
Most amazing, however, is being a part of the overall NBC Universal team during an Olympic games. Walking around the IBC truly makes you feel a part of a larger whole. NBC Universal has 2,900 employees over here! It’s fun to be running next to Matt Lauer on the treadmill in the morning, and then sit one table over from Bob Costas at lunch in the commissary. Although I have worked for NBC for most of my professional career, there’s still a part of me that looks around sometimes, and just thinks, “Wow!”