Newsroom Life: Phil Holm, assignment editor, interactive, Associated Press

3 February 2018
We talk to Phil Holm, assignment editor, interactive at Associated Press about his life in the newsroom.

How did you find your way into your current role?

In 2002, I began my career at Associated Press (AP) as a graphics assistant, posting infographics to our sites, handling customer concerns and pitching ideas whenever I could. My pitches must have made an impression at some point as they offered me a role as a producer – which I jumped on. From there I found my niche in mapmaking – teaching myself GIS and taking a few training courses. The single most effective quality I executed well, and which led to my role as assignment editor for the interactive and graphics department, was taking initiative. Doing, instead of waiting to be told what to do, has immensely helped elevate my stature at AP.

How is the newsroom changing?

We can all agree that the push for digital news first is paramount. But with countless online news publishers out there, how do we weed out the real news and the fake news? AP has taken measures to battle the daily and trending fake news stories by ramping up its fact-checking efforts. The AP Fact Check desk reviews top news and debunks any false information that may have appeared online. Our newsroom, like many others, has also become more resilient. Many new publishing and development tools are available to make our jobs easier than ever to create, manage and promote content.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I like the idea of never knowing what the day will bring. This doesn’t get old and keeps my job from getting stale.

And what do you enjoy least?

The tone of the news in general can be a bit depressing, I occasionally find myself struggling to find uplifting news stories.

Who in your field has particularly inspired you, and why?

Several years ago, I had the pleasure to work under a very talented art director. His creativity inspired me and his eye-popping designs are very much the reason why I am where I am today. He also taught me to always make time for your employees and team members if you want to leave a positive, lasting impact.

How important is data visualization to your newsroom, and how do you see it changing over the next 5 years?

It’s very important. It helps us pursue story threads which may have gone overlooked otherwise. Our data team works in tandem with reporters on select stories in an effort to extract as much meaningful information from research as possible.

"Our newsroom, like many others, has also become more resilient. Many new publishing and development tools are available to make our jobs easier than ever to create, manage and promote content."

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the newsroom?

Become as well rounded a staffer as possible. Being able to code simply isn’t enough. You need a sensible design background and sound news judgment if you intend to show you have the chops to produce a true multimedia experience. Stick to unbiased sources whenever possible. Sources funded by a group with a particular agenda will always skew the message and should be avoided.

When you are not working, how do you relax?

I have fun with my dogs – I have two schnauzers and they mean the world to me. I’m also into gaming and unwind via Xbox and PlayStation..

In an alternate life, what would you do for a living?

I would devote my time to rescuing and helping animals in need. Maybe a veterinarian surgical doctor.

Phil Holm

About Phil Holm

Phil Holm is a visual journalist with 15-years’ multimedia experience at AP. Phil now sits as the interactive and graphics department’s assignment editor, reviewing news of the day, week and year ahead and coordinating coverage accordingly. Phil is a self-taught expert at GIS and has been making maps for AP for more than 12 years.