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News Editor


Description

An essential part of broadcast news, they have a great command of the English language and are meticulous in their work - they are news editors. News editors examine articles, tables, captions and columns to be printed in a newspaper for grammatical and factual accuracy. Thanks to editors, publications are not only grammatically and syntactically correct, but also really good news articles and editorial pieces. They may also design pages and arrange illustrations.

News editors are expected to be fully qualified journalists and writers. Just as judges are lawyers, astronauts are pilots and FBI agents are police officers, news editors are writers or reporters first. They are also responsible for ensuring the final form and accuracy of all published material and writing headlines for reporters' stories.

News editors check sentences and phrases for spelling, grammatical correctness, and appropriate word usage. If errors are found, they make corrections using proofreader marks. In many cases, news editors are expected to judge the news value of articles and features. If a story is too long, it must be edited to retain its meaning while conforming to the news editor's decision on length. A news editor's mandate also includes keeping an eye out for libel and factual errors. Although it is the responsibility of the writer to make sure that all facts are accurate, the news editor still must double check. In newspapers, this is usually considered an essential task, however, news editors will only check blatant facts that appear questionable, leaving the rest up to the writer's judgment.

A news editor's duties vary with the size of the newspaper. Large metropolitan dailies may require full-time services of a number of news editors. On small weekly newspapers, editors or assistants may edit news copy in addition to their other duties. News editors are usually the last line of defense against bad writing, and writing can certainly be bad even if it is clean. Tightening up wordy prose and smoothing awkward transitions are generally considered part of the news editor's job, but more extensive rewriting usually has to be cleared with other editors and usually gets sent back to the writer for a rewrite.

The writing component of a news editor's job consists mainly of headlines and captions. In fact, headline writing is an art in itself with its own set of intricate rules. Headlines are supposed to tell the story in a line or two and be filled with witty puns to draw in a reader, which can be very difficult. Some news editors are quite clever in their headline writing. Also, most news editors do page layout and design. This involves deciding which stories, photos and graphics will run and where they will be placed. Finally, news editors have some sort of typesetting chores. This involves pagination and coding, which can get quite monotonous.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$20,030
 
Median Salary:
$38,270
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$78,070

  Interests and Skills  
Besides having a nose for news, news editors must have a facility for and love of language and a proficiency in grammar, spelling, and composition. They must have the ability to work with people and independently, while making informed, logical decisions. They must be able to criticize effectively, while taking criticism as well. News editors must love to read, write headlines and marvel at the idea of improving language and style.

They must have an elephantine memory and a sharp eye for detail as news editors will be held responsible for any flaws left in a printed text. They should have an instinct for recognizing patterns, creating categories, and organizing ideas; be willing to question assumptions, theories, and facts and most importantly have the ability to recognize what is missing in content, argument, or presentation.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Evaluate articles, news copy and wire service dispatches for publication
  • Recommend or make changes in content, style and organization of submitted copies
  • Correct errors in spelling, grammar and syntax, and shorten or lengthen copy as required
  • Confer with staff writers, reporters and others regarding revisions to copy
  • Plan layout or format of copy according to printed space
  • Plan and coordinate activities of staff and ensure deadlines are met
  • Write compelling and witty headlines and captions
  • Check and edit content for accuracy of style
  • Write articles and editorials
  • Depending on the type of paper they work for, news editors may spend their days alone or with many different people. Yet in a large newspaper office, news editors work in loud and hectic surroundings. They often work long, irregular hours with longer hours required to meet deadlines. In fact, some news editors work nights in order to get the news into the next day's paper. Freelance editors are more able to set their own hours.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • News editors work mainly for newspapers -- both large and small. Some are employed by government departments that produce publications such as newsletters, handbooks and manuals and few are self-employed, working as freelance editors.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Competition for news editing positions is intense and most jobs go to qualified people who already work in the field. Nevertheless, all news editors must start somewhere and getting as much experience and published writing is the best route to take. News editors must be willing to take entry level positions and work their way up to positions of editor-in-chief or production editor.

News editors will advance to positions with increased supervisory responsibilities. For example, a news editor may become a section editor or be promoted to an assistant city editor position. Accordingly, the opportunity to work at a larger newspaper is often seen as a promotion. Since news editors have such a wide range of experience within the journalism and publishing industry, they may choose to work in marketing, public relations or any other communications-oriented field.
 

  Educational Paths  
News editors are usually required to have a bachelor's degree in journalism, English, communications or a related arts discipline. Several community colleges and universities offer post-graduate editing and publishing programs, usually ranging from one to two years in length. A working knowledge of media law, and computer word-processing and page layout programs is also recommended.

Several years of experience in journalism, writing, publishing or a related field is usually required. Most employers value experience and reputation over other credentials, so it is recommended that news editors work on newsletters, magazines, or brochures for organizations in their community. In fact, many such groups welcome volunteers. This is valuable experience as aspiring editors will have the opportunity to look over someone's shoulder and test their aptitude, skills, and inclination towards this career.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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