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For a TV Editor, 500 New Shows a Year Require a Fresh Script


Entertainment

For a TV Editor, 500 New Shows a Year Require a Fresh Script


How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Jeremy Egner, television editor for The Times, discussed the tech he’s using.

What tech tools are most important for your work as a television editor?

Most important is the one in my title: a television.

Though the pure tonnage of content dictates that I almost always have a new show going — on my laptop or a second monitor at work, occasionally my iPad or iPhone — I still vastly prefer watching TV on TVs. Both of the ones I have at home are attached to Apple TV consoles. With its fourth generation, the system and, more important, the touch pad remote finally advanced to the point where I was willing to commit.

I use a USB-enabled Sony ICD-UX560 to record interviews. It’s the best recorder I’ve ever owned. My iPhone and its apps are also indispensable. I use Rev to transcribe interviews and Otter for voice memos when inspiration strikes; it does passable transcription at the same time. I use Shazam to identify songs played in episodes. Percentagewise, I probably do more writing on Evernote on my phone (including this right now!) than anywhere else.

A lot has changed with TV viewing since you joined The Times in 2008. How has your job writing about TV changed over the last decade?

There is so. Much. More.

When I joined The Times, we still aimed to review every new scripted show. With roughly 500 new scripted shows coming out every year now, that’s impossible. So the job has become more curatorial as we sift through everything and decide what is worth covering, and help people negotiate the volume.

Some of our most popular features are just straightforward lists of the best things to stream on Netflix in a given month, and we have a twice-weekly newsletter that helps people wade through the plenty. (Sign up here!)

As TV has gotten more ambitious, we’ve gotten more granular and diverse with our coverage. While we still do traditional features like reviews and actor profiles, we’ve added things like showrunner interviews, breakdowns of the visual aesthetics of series, video features about the writing process and so on.

And as viewers have sought deeper engagement with shows, so have we. Our weekly recaps, interviews and other coverage last throughout a show’s season — or as long as people still seem to care, in the case of Netflix, since it drops all the episodes at once — and not just at the beginning, as we used to. We covered the final season of “Game of Thrones” as if it were a six-week-long Super Bowl, though that was an exceptional situation, given the scale of the “Thrones” phenomenon.

You probably have a sweet home entertainment setup. Tell us about it.

It’s not that sweet, but it does the job. I have a couple of Samsung LCDs, one in the living room and another in my home office. The living room one is actually a 3-D set, purchased a few years ago when TV makers were trying to make 3-D a thing again. I’ve watched exactly one thing in 3-D on it. (That said, it was “Gravity,” and it was awesome!) That set is attached to a Bose soundbar, and the other to a Yamaha surround system.

I still have cable TV for a variety of reasons, regrettably — it’s expensive, and the customer service is reliably terrible — but the biggest overall evolution, in general, has been the shift from linear to app-based television. Most of my watching is now done via network apps on Apple TV, including screeners of new series. It has been a long time since I got a DVD in the mail.

The cable goes only in the living room set. I use a Google Wi-Fi mesh system to make sure I can seamlessly watch stuff for work in the office while my wife and daughter watch whatever in the other room.

Your “Game of Thrones” recaps were always among the most-read articles on the Times website. How did you use tech to produce these recaps, since the show had so many story arcs and characters?

I just watched closely and remembered every detail. Actually, that’s a lie. I did take lots of notes, and I did remember quite a bit, after watching the entire series all the way through a couple of times. (Thanks, HBO Go!)

But I relied on wikis to remind me who someone like Yohn Royce was when he randomly showed up in the series finale. The main tool I used was my MacBook Air, which I frenetically clacked away on throughout each episode — my wife loved watching with me — and then deep into the night, as I churned out each recap.

Outside of work, what tech product are you currently obsessed with?

This is the part where I admit that I’m, if not exactly a Luddite, somewhat gadget averse. I like to keep life as uncluttered as possible. Honestly, my favorite tech product right now is probably my Instant Pot. It makes exquisite yogurt!

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