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Need advice on dealing with editor

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jetssack, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. jetssack

    jetssack Member

    I'm a freelance writer who has worked my way up from weeklies to bigger papers and finally was recently asked by an editor (to whom I had pitched an idea) to be a regular freelance contributor to his paper's blog.

    Here's my problem: this guy is the worst editor I have ever dealt with but the paper is one of the top dailies in the country.

    So far I've written three features for him. He is a complete flake - forgets who I am, forgets what we agreed to, forgets that I emailed him. I pitched one story with a major athlete, which he greenlighted - and before I could interview the guy, he gave it to someone else to write! ("I thought you'd dropped it.")

    Another pitch he never replied to (and he had emailed me, saying he was desperate for pitches). One story I filed copy on deadline and when it didn't appear online that day, I called him to ask why and he said he hadn't read my email yet because he was too overwhelmed with emails (this was 24 hours after I'd filed the story.)

    He writes cheesy headlines that I'm embarrassed to have my byline under. On the first story, he totally rewrote my lede - and it was awful. The second story he didn't touch at all. The problem is the third story. He hacked it to pieces.

    I have dealt with at least a dozen different editors so far in my career, so I have a basis for comparison. I am not inordinately attached to what I write. But this guy took a freaking machete to a feature I'd spent days writing - and two colleagues whose opinion I trust told me it was one of the best things I had ever written.

    Even though it was a feature, he literally deleted every single adjective/adverb and broke the sentences into very short simple sentences (which is how he writes).

    I don't know if challenging him on redebacks would get me axed or if there's even any point.

    I don't know how this clown got a job at a paper of this standing. It is incredibly demoralizing to write for him but at the same time, it's not like there's an abundance of jobs out there.

    Every other editor I've dealt with was fine so I sincerely appreciate advice from anyone who has ever handled this kind of editor. Thanks.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    You don't have much leverage. You could talk to him. Other than that, you are writing on his terms.
  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, as a freelancer you've got no say on edits and headlines. It's out of your hands.

    Miscommunicating on assignments, though, that's different. That takes $$ out of your hands. If he's too flaky on that, you're going to have to move along to other things. I know working up to the big daily is a good thing, but if you can't get on the same page with him on gigs, it doesn't matter. Ask to meet in person and explain what you need as a freelancer in terms of deadlines, commitments, etc.
  4. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member


    OP's options: Stay and work under his terms or leave.
  5. jetssack

    jetssack Member

    Thanks for the replies and advice. The thing about freelancing is that you don't have coworkers down the hall who know the boss and how best to handle him. So I appreciate your insights and experience.

    Unfortunately, with papers laying off staff and eliminating benefits, I think more and more of us may end up freelancing.
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