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Going from reporter to editor

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

  1. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member


  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Copy editing isn't easy when writers turn in their stuff at, or beyond, deadline because they're prima donnas who do so in the attempt of not being overly edited. Copy editing isn't easy when writers think they're above being edited.
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    Simple way to deal with that: Don't run their stuff. When they come in with their self-important whining, tell 'em to make deadline or they won't get run. And be ready to stick to it.
  4. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Doesn't work that way here when "the line" is their story.

    But deeper than that, even if the story is turned in early, it's the prima donna attitude of "don't fucking touch my work." Trust me, it's grating.
  5. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    So ... working off the new definition of Magnum's role ...

    I'm inclined to agree with Songbird's advice. You've got to have patience; copy editing can be a thankless job because you're dealing with office politics (re: bullshit) and also writer's egos (re: bullshit.) Side with the writers every time ... unless, of course, they're wrong. Yeah, you'll have to play the bad guy sometimes. You might have to crack the whip. Don't take it personally, even if your writers do. You have to check your ego at the door.

    That said -- spending time as a line editor will make you a better writer, no question about it. And it'll make you a better editor, as any experience will. It's an important perspective that I think every writer should have. You'll learn to appreciate those who can turn in good, clean copy on deadline, because not many can. Make it a point to thank those writers.

    As far as "writer's withdrawal," find an outlet for yourself. Do some freelance or write for yourself -- on your own time, if the paper won't make time for you to do it on theirs. Have some optimism about what you're jumping into, pay attention to what you're doing, and the "withdrawal" won't be that bad, if there at all. But if it still is, find an outlet for it and you won't drive yourself crazy.
  6. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    I have writer's withdrawal a bit, too, bucky. That's why I'm finding other outlets like making photo-graphics for stories; just need something to keep the creative juices occupied.

    For the most part, I'll let the writer keep his/her voice. Other times, obvious ledes totally buried or never even conceptualized are constructed by me, and I'll rewrite the whole damn thing if I have to. One of the newer bemoanings lately is that "our paper shouldn't just be the voices of the editors" and "I don't use those terms or words" etc. etc.

    I agree with bucky that being an editor strengthens your writer's voice. I'm one year into being a news-side night editor, and there are things I learn every day. But I think I'm getting stronger, if nothing else, because of what I have to edit on a daily basis. It's fun, though. After 17 years as a sports writer, this is exactly what I needed in my career.

    Edit: And about the ones who turn in clean, crisp copy that sings ... We had a guy die here about 2 months ago. Old-school guy with a razor's-edge mind. I miss reading his stuff because he got it.
  7. John Newsom

    John Newsom Member

    [quote author=ace]
    I took line editor to be an assigning editor. [/quote]

    Same. Copy editors don't do a lot of reporter mentoring, at least not here. Maybe it's different elsewhere.
  8. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Here I edit the stories and assign if I have to. I'm trying to get the rookie to understand the theory of next-day folos. Good rook. Good head. But needs to be shook and stirred often.
  9. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Same. Copy editors don't do a lot of reporter mentoring, at least not here. Maybe it's different elsewhere.

    Good copy editors assist their writers in any they can; point out mistakes and talk to writers about their stories if they have questions. I took "mentoring" to mean that, since that's about the extent of what actually takes place.

    Most newspaper desks don't have time to do any real "mentoring."
  10. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    ... and reporters who putz around on their cellies all night because they can't control their ADD to the infiniti'est degree. Just sit the fuck down and write me a 20-inch story, goddamnit, because now we're one minute from deadline and we're going to be late.


    So, yeah, you want to be an editor, right?
  11. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    Prepare to be Joe Williams' mortal enemy from this day forward.
  12. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    John Newsome hit it fairly close to the head, that coming from someone who recently made the reporter-to-editor move.

    - I've noticed since I've been an editor that problem solving and customer service have consumed far more of my time than mentoring and producing.

    - Often, if I didn't plan ahead, my staff or I were screwed as we had spaces to fill we weren't expecting due to an advertising shortage

    - There are never as many hours in a day as you need to put out the work you really want to see going out the door

    - I really missed the freedom and the social value of being out in the field reporting on beats. Sure I still have a few assignments, but it's quite different.

    That said, it definitely has its rewards when you're able to control it all and produce quality work or make a connection with your staff.
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