Fast Edit Eddie

 By Jim Colton

   My first exposure to the process of "selecting" images came for a December 12, 1977 Newsweek cover story on Texas featuring photos by Wally McNamee.  The Kilgore Rangerettes were the cover image. We sat in a conference room with managing editor Edward Kosner, the most decisive editor I ever worked with.  The scores of slides shot by McNamee were in the trays of carousels that projected them onto a large screen.

  They were barely up when Ed, glancing at the screen, barked out, "mark that!" as he made his selections. "Mark that" literally meant dabbing the top of the slide with a red marker. After these preliminary edits, there was a 5-10 minute break as Sue Tweedt (Woodward) painstakingly pulled each marked slide out of the carousel and placed them into another carousel for a second go around.  The process would be repeated until the final selects were made. Not one to waste time, Ed would edit writer’s copy in between the pauses for reloading the carousels.



   Quick change: As a "newbie" I suggested pulling Ed’s selects as they were made and putting them in order into the new carousel, so they would be ready immediately.  It eliminated the redundancy of touching them twice.  Kosner was shocked when I said, "We're ready,"...saying something to the effect of "who is this new guy?" Selects for the cover and the inside photos were made with amazing speed.  But…

   As we began projecting Ed’s (now unmarked) selections arranged by photo editor John Whelan back in the photo department, I began noticing many out of focus images and "blinkers" (closed eyes).   It turns out that in John Whelan's haste to load the carousel, he grabbed his pile of "outs" instead of his "ins"—and had loaded the “outs” in the carousel. We regrouped in the photo department and replaced the outs with the ins before putting them into production! We never told Kosner about the near miss.


Jim Colton joined Newsweek in 1977 and became director of photography in 1992.  He later directed photography for 15 years at Sports Illustrated.