On editing

“I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one.” – Mark Twain

It’s been about eight months since I made the jump from news writing to news editing. I spent about 6 years writing for newspapers. I’m a young editor, for sure, and I’m still learning my way around the new job. For anyone who’s ever considered moving from reporting to editing, I thought I’d share some observations I’ve made so far about what the differences are.

1. Management feels like putting out one fire after another. I have a new-found respect for the work my boss does to keep things running smoothly in the newsroom. There are many different individual schedules and personalities to deal with. You also have to deal with¬† technical issues and the near-daily struggle of having too many or too few stories in the paper. Also, have you ever had to make a work schedule for people? It’s the worst.

2. Editing requires a different way of measuring what you accomplish each day. When you’re a reporter, it’s really easy to come home from a long day of work with a sense of accomplishment. You can point to a story with your name on it in the next day’s paper and know that you did that. Your success is measurable. With editing, it can be a little less clear. Editing requires you to shift your thinking about work — rather than looking for your byline for a sense of accomplishment, you have to realize that all the little things you do, from catching the occasional misspelled name or “West Virgina” to making a lede more clear, help the finished paper be better.

3. You will miss reporting. A lot. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder; it’s true. I’ve resorted to doing the occasional Saturday story or video just to get my reporting fix in.

4. You will realize all the things you did as a reporter that bug your editor. These are mostly little things like not writing photo cutlines or suggested headlines for stories, or not mentioning a scheduling conflict until late.  The little things matter, though.

5. Did I mention you’ll miss reporting?