Ed Campion - Telling Stories Through Words and Photos
Goddard News Chief Ed Campion focuses on telling great stories in words and in photographs.
News Chief, Office of Communications
Formal Job Classification:
Supervisory Public Affairs Specialist
Code 130, Office of Communications, Office of the Director
What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?
I am the Goddard News Chief. My job is to help tell Goddard’s story to news media representatives, freelance writers, documentary groups, etc. and, through them, have the general public learn about all the great stuff happening here.
A typical day involves me working with other members of the Goddard communications office to ensure we know what center events and activities are happening that may be newsworthy. Decisions are then made about whether a press release or feature story is needed, do we need to get photos, should there be video documentation, etc. All of that material is then used to create products on Goddard websites and/or NASA Television.
|› Larger image
Ed Campion inside his office at Goddard next to some of his photographs. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
My workdays are also spent coordinating the news coming out of Goddard with the communications office and program offices at NASA Headquarters. NASA is a large agency and many activities involve more than one program organization and may also be supported by multiple field centers. Some events or activities may have sensitivities that have to be worked with other government agencies or with members of Congress.
My career with NASA has evolved over the years. I started by doing general newsroom support. Then I became a spokesman for NASA's Office of Space Flight that involved more detailed writing, doing interviews and strategic planning. I spent time at JSC coordinating media activities and serving as a mission control commentator. Now I regard my duties as being more of an editor, mentor and manager of resources.
The news business is such that one has to respond quickly to reporters’ questions or issues. It used to be that many news organizations had reporters dedicated to NASA or to science and technology so the reporters were familiar with NASA and knew the basics about our programs. Today, due to limited resources, news organizations just have general reporters so more than likely the reporter showing up to cover a NASA story has no background about us. This change requires me to be much more flexible in how I approach reporters. They want to do a good story but they are also under the gun in terms of time and deadlines that then equates to a pressure situation. Our office tries to create products and opportunities that allow reporters to tell effective and timely stories. Some examples would include press releases, feature stories, videos and animations. We also provide the opportunity to interview Goddard people when requested.
There has always been a crisis management component to Public Affairs. I have been through several significant crises and learned what does and does not work well in managing them. One of the things I learned is that maintaining a calm demeanor is very important. When you are in a crisis situation, you are dealing with very emotional people especially if the situation is very personal to them. We help prepare people for “the bad day” that we hope never comes. For example, if a satellite launch does not go well, you are then dealing with people who have spent the better part of their careers on this one project that has now turned out very badly. I help NASA people respond to news media questions at the same time they are also dealing with the crisis and are very emotional about it.
Who is the most interesting, inspiring, or amazing person you have met or worked with at NASA?
I was the spokesperson for the Teacher in Space Project that had Christa McAuliffe flying on the space shuttle. I was her public affairs person. She was the first civilian on the shuttle and was supposed to be the first of a series of select civilians to fly on the shuttle. I was at Kennedy for that launch and it was my first launch. As devastating as the accident was, it was inspiring to see the entire NASA organization come back to work the very next day after the Challenger accident and try to figure out what had happened when they were all still so emotionally raw. That same incredible dedication was demonstrated again when more than 20 years later, in August 2007, I got to watch Barbara Morgan, Christa McAuliffe’s backup fly into space aboard Endeavour, the space shuttle built to replace Challenger. Everything came full circle.
After all the many interviews you have done, is there anything that stands out about Goddard people?
I have interviewed a number of different Goddard people. I find it amazing that they all have such a strong passion for the work they are do here.
|› Larger image
Ed's favorite photo of a family on the Outer Banks. Image courtesy of: Ed Campion. All rights reserved.
Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?
I started taking photographs in high school. I try to capture the essence of whatever I am photographing. I try to capture the moment. Most people take pictures of very safe things like flowers. Some photographers are afraid to take pictures of people because they do not want to offend. I like to take pictures of all types of subject matter and I also like to use different formats. The photos on the wall of my office area have a mixture of topics with some in color, some in black and white, and some in infrared. I believe a viewer’s response to a photograph changes depending on which format is used.
Do you have a favorite way or place to kick back, relax or have fun?
Yes, I love the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My family vacationed there every summer while I was growing up so that part of the country has very fond memories for me and it is one of my favorite areas to take pictures. I regard the best picture I've ever taken as being one of a family fishing on the sound side of the Outer Banks at sunset. It's not because it is perfectly composed or exposed, but it perfectly captures the feeling I have about the Outer Banks with family spending time together and enjoying nature.
› More Conversations With Goddard
Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD