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Going from reporter to editor

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Magnum, Aug 27, 2008.

  1. Magnum

    Magnum Member

    Hi all,

    I've been a reporter for quite a while and now I'm being encouraged to apply as a line editor. I've entertained the thought for some time - I like mentoring younger reporters - but I've had some concerns about making the change.

    I'm worried about writing withdrawal and getting stuck as a whip-cracker for reporters not as motivated as I am. The latter doesn't sound like much fun.

    Can someone who's made the change tell me some of your concerns going into the job, how you dealt with them and how well it worked?

  2. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    The first year is a bitch, so just be prepared for it. And dealing with your bosses is usually a pain in the ass.
    But protect your people, think of serving the readers first, then your staff, and you should be fine.
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I went from being an entry level reporter in 2001 to being a managing editor in 2006. Yes, it was five years between journalism gigs.

    My concerns had more to do with whether or not I could even do the job since it had been five years. As far as editing was concerned, I wasn't too worried about that. What I did was start out right away by establishing authority. The first thing I wanted to do was establish a professional relationship with the people working with and for me. Anything beyond that would come if/when it did.

    I do a lot of mentoring young reporters thanks to working with a lot of students from the nearby university. I often send e-mails when there are stories that are lacking. Many times, I give them pointers that will help them in the future. Most of the time, the response has been positive. And even the one time when the response was negative, the guy took what I said to heart and applied it, and his stories improved dramatically as a result.
  4. SixToe

    SixToe Well-Known Member

    If you make the jump, remember your roots.

    That is to say, when it comes time to send a guy or two to the big game or a big event, don't forget the little guy who did the grunt work during the season. Don't forget your days in the trenches and some of the shit you had to endure. Remember the times you, as a reporter, wanted some feedback or constructive criticism and be ready to provide it.

    Good luck.
  5. Magnum

    Magnum Member

    This is a concern of mine, as well. I've developed a lot of opinions on how an editors should be in my time as a reporter. It's just seems like people forget what it's like to be a reporter as soon as they take the leap. I don't want that to happen to me.
  6. SixToe

    SixToe Well-Known Member

    If you have recognized that and want to make an effort not to be that way, that's a good first step.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Being an editor for sports reporters is really a pretty good gig, I think.

    Writers want to write. They often have certain events they might really want to cover, so I use those types of "rewards" for writers who you may need to call in a pinch or do some grunt work one day.

    So think of that. Writers like doing their jobs and are pretty easy to keep happy.

    Not like you are working at Wal-Mart and telling the clean up guy that if he does a good job mopping aisle 8, you'll let him mop aisle 14, too.
  8. John Newsom

    John Newsom Member

    A few thoughts from someone who did the reporter-to-editor thing ...

    * The job has surprisingly little to do with writing and editing. It's mostly about planning and execution.

    * There are way too many meetings.

    * If you're not hyper-organized, don't take the gig. That prep football section that came out last week? You start talking with the ad folks about it about the time spring sports are ending. And you'll keep talking about it with the reporters, other editors, copy desk, designers and marketing folks until you the very mention of prep football makes you stomach churn.

    * Your most important role is to solve problems - with your readers, with your reporters, within your section, with other parts of the paper.

    * Readers suck. And by "readers," I mean the ones who burn your ears and e-mail with how much you suck, how much your paper sucks, how sucktacular your coverage is of a particular team or sport. (Most folks are fine. But you start to doubt that every Monday during football and basketball season.)

    All that said, probably THE best part about the gig is working with the reporters -- young ones, old ones, interns. And it's great when a plan comes together well. I just got burned out by the relentless nature of the job, which is why I'm back to reporting.

    Good luck to ya.
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    It may be relentless, but at least you can plan.

    As a reporter you can plan as well, but expect those plans to go to hell quite often.
  10. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    You have to deal with writer attitudes. T'ain't easy, my friend.
  11. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Umm ... correct me if I'm wrong ... but almost ALL of these suggestions are about being a sports editor, not a line editor.

    Managing and budget-planning ... is that really going to be part of Magnum's role yet? I thought he wanted advice on, essentially, moving to the desk.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I took line editor to be an assigning editor.

    Copy editing is easy. Just stay up late and be crotchety.
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