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Career path question: Moving to the editing side

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by cake in the rain, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. cake in the rain

    cake in the rain Active Member

    I wanted to get feedback from the SJ community and see if anyone has similar goals or experiences that might be able to help me.

    I'm about 30 years old, and have a great job as a beat hack at a well-respected paper.

    That said, my career aspiration is to eventually move onto the editing side and into newsroom leadership. The problem is that I have limited familiarity with the workings of the sports desk, limited design experience and limited hands-on editing experience. (I think I could be a very good copy editor, and I was an adequate designer in college, but I've been a full-time writer since I've been in the business).

    My questions: How do I make the jump to the editing side? What would be the type of job situation (newspaper size, role) that someone like me could realistically target? Has anyone else on the board made the move directly from reporter to editor without any stop on the desk in between?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    Not all editors are deskers. Some of them take a beat, or write columns. Some just want you to be the face of the department to the public. It all depends on what a particular paper needs an SE to be. I'd think you could catch on as SE of a solid mid-sized (25-50K) daily no problem, assuming your credentials are good enough.
  3. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    I would say talk to your SE. See if you could split your beat with someone else, with you also doing a little desk. That's what I do, and it works out well.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Seek more experience on the desk, where you're at currently. Get a feel for the communication (or lack thereof.) Get a feel for the deadline pressure, which is different on the desk than it is as a writer. Not easier, not harder -- different. Try your hand at editing, try your hand at design ... try your hand at planning.

    You don't have to be a design whiz or an editing whiz, but if you want to move into management, I think it certainly behooves you to have a well-rounded perspective. It's beneficial to everyone if the newsroom leaders understand the writing side and the desk side.
  5. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    just say that you want to make the move.

    most managers are so desperate for people who actually WANT to edit, that they'll probably slobber all over you.
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    On larger papers you can be an ASE in charge of the writers (all or some) without having worked the desk. We have a guy like that -- no desk experience -- and I really admire him, he has some skills that you can't get without having been a very good beat guy. Desk people, obviously, prefer a manager who understands their work, or at least respects it and makes at least a little effort to learn how things work. What it comes down to is that competent people respect competence and don't respect lack of it, and it doesn't have to be competence in the same specialty. Also, people tend to respect people who treat them with respect, and they tend not to respect people who show no respect for others, competence or not. So I don't think you need desk experience, but it can only help you.
  7. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    I've heard a term for that: The Golden Rule.
  8. Stop_Pre

    Stop_Pre New Member

    Coming from a copy desk veteran:
    Volunteer to fill in for the occasional sick desk guy when it fits your reporting schedule. When you are on the desk, ask the necessary questions but mostly stay quiet and observe how the operation works from that end. A handful of desk shifts (scattered over all of the sports seasons, ideally) should give you a taste of the editing side without blowing up your beats. The next day, off deadline, ask the desk to critique your work. That might clarify your career goals.
  9. Oz

    Oz Well-Known Member

    At my last two stops, I got plenty of experience running the desk every now and then as a full-time reporter, which helped me land the desk job that I have now. Definitely try to get some desk experience where you are now, your bosses would probably appreciate your versatility. I know mine did. It can only help seeing the process from another perspective.

    Doing budget meetings, making decisions, delegating tasks, reading stories and doing pages on deadline, etc., can take some getting used to. It doesn't happen overnight, but getting some experience where you are is a good start.
  10. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    call. dyepack. invaluable. info.
  11. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    Put in extra hours in the office. Off the clock if necessary.
  12. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    I made the move straight from being a reporter to the copy desk. At the time I made the move, we had a slot guy who would layout the entire section and copy editors who would also paginate the section. Since I have some computer knowledge, I was asked because they felt I could pick up the pagination system quickly (not because I'm a great writer or editor). In the seven years since, I've only been asked to help layout/design the section (or a couple of pages) three or four times.

    To answer your question, like others have said, fill-in on the desk whenever you can. It's invaluable experience to see how the desk works.
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