Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.
Editors typically do the following:
- Read content and correct for errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar
- Rewrite copy to make it easier for readers to understand
- Verify facts using standard reference sources
- Evaluate submissions from writers to decide what to publish
- Work with writers to help their ideas and stories succeed
- Plan the content of digital media and publications according to the publication’s style and editorial policy
- Develop story and content ideas while being mindful of the audience
- Allocate space for the text, photos, and illustrations that make up a story
- Approve final versions submitted by staff
Editors plan, coordinate, and revise material for publication in books, newspapers, magazines, or websites. Editors review story ideas and decide what material will appeal most to readers. They also review and edit digital media and drafts of books and articles, offer comments to improve the product, and suggest titles and headlines. In smaller organizations, a single editor may perform all of the editorial duties or share them with only a few other people.
The following are examples of types of editors:
Copy editors review copy for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling and check the copy for readability, style, and agreement with editorial policy. They suggest revisions, such as changing words and rearranging sentences and paragraphs to improve clarity or accuracy. They also may carry out research, confirm sources for writers, and verify facts, dates, and statistics. In addition, they may arrange page layouts of articles, photographs, and advertising.
Publication assistants who work for book-publishing houses may read and evaluate manuscripts submitted by freelance writers, proofread uncorrected proofs, and answer questions about published material. Assistants on small newspapers or in smaller media markets may compile articles available from wire services or the Internet, answer phones, and proofread articles.
Executive editors oversee assistant editors and generally have the final say about what stories are published and how they are covered. Executive editors typically hire writers, reporters, and other employees. They also plan budgets and negotiate contracts with freelance writers, who are sometimes called “stringers” in the news industry. Although many executive editors work for newspaper publishers, some work for television broadcasters, magazines, or advertising and public relations firms.
Assistant editors are responsible for a particular subject, such as local news, international news, feature stories, or sports. Most assistant editors work for newspaper publishers, television broadcasters, magazines, book publishers, or advertising and public relations firms.
Managing editors typically work for magazines, newspaper publishers, and television broadcasters, and are responsible for the daily operation of a news department.
Editors held about 115,300 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most editors in 2012 were as follows:
|Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers||48%|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations||8|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||7|
|Educational services state, local, and private||5|
Although most editors work in offices, a growing number work remotely from home. They often use desktop or electronic publishing software, scanners, and other electronic communications equipment to produce their material.
Jobs are somewhat concentrated in major media and entertainment markets—Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC—but improved communications and Internet capabilities allow editors to work from a greater variety of locations.
Editors’ schedules generally are determined by the production schedule and the type of editorial position. Most editors work in busy offices much of the time and have to deal with production deadline pressures and the stresses of ensuring that the information they publish is accurate. As a result, editors often work long hours, especially at those times leading up to a publication deadline, which can be daily or even more frequently when an editor is working on digital material for the Internet or for a live broadcast.
Overseeing and coordinating multiple writing projects simultaneously is common among editors and may lead to stress, fatigue, or other chronic problems.
Freelance editors face the added pressures of finding work on an ongoing basis and continually adjusting to new work environments.
Most editors work full time.
Proficiency with computers and a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English are typically required to be an editor.
Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English. They also prefer candidates with mass- or cross-media experience.
Those with other backgrounds who can show strong writing skills also may find jobs as editors. Editors who deal with specific subject matter may need previous work experience related to that field. Fashion editors, for example, may need expertise in fashion that they gain through formal training or work experience.
The ability to use computers and communications equipment is necessary for editors to stay in touch with writers and other editors and to work on the increasingly important digital media or online side of a publication. Familiarity with electronic publishing, graphics, Web design, and multimedia production is important as well, because more and more material is being read online.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Those who are particularly skilled at identifying good stories, recognizing writing talent, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.
Editors can also gain experience by working on their high school and college newspapers, for magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or for nonprofit organizations. Magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. For example, the American Society of Magazine Editors offers a Magazine Internship Program to qualified full-time students in their junior or senior year of college. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.
Except for copy editors, most editors hold management positions and must make decisions related to running a business. For them, advancement generally means moving up to publications with larger circulation or greater prestige. Copy editors may move into original writing or substantive editing positions, or become freelancers.
Creativity. Editors must be creative, curious, and knowledgeable in a broad range of topics. Some editors must regularly come up with interesting story ideas and attention-grabbing headlines.
Detail oriented. One of an editor’s main tasks is to make sure that material is error-free and matches the style of a publication.
Good judgment. Editors must decide if certain stories are ethical or if there is enough evidence to report them.
Interpersonal skills. In working with writers, editors must have tact and the ability to guide and encourage them in their work.
Language skills. Editors must ensure that all written content has correct grammar, punctuation, and syntax. As a result, strong language skills are essential for an editor.
Writing skills. Editors should enjoy writing and must be excellent writers overall. They must have good knowledge of grammar and punctuation rules and be able to express ideas clearly and logically.
The median annual wage for editors was $53,880 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,340, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,660.
Editors’ schedules are generally determined by the production schedule and the type of editorial position. Most editors work in busy offices and have to deal with deadlines and the stresses of ensuring that the information they publish is accurate. As a result, editors often work long hours, especially at those times leading up to a publication deadline, which can be daily or even more frequently when an editor is editing digital material for the Internet or for a live broadcast.
Overseeing and coordinating multiple writing projects simultaneously is common among editors and may lead to stress, fatigue, or other chronic problems. Freelance editors face the added pressures of finding work on an ongoing basis and continually adjusting to new work environments.
Most editors work full time.
Employment of editors is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022, as print media continue to face strong pressure from online publications.
Despite some job growth for editors in online media, the number of traditional editing jobs in print newspapers and magazines is declining and will temper overall employment growth.
Competition for jobs with established newspapers and magazines will be particularly strong because the publishing industry is projected to decline in employment. Editors who have adapted to online media and are comfortable writing for and working with a variety of electronic and digital tools should have an advantage in finding work. Although the way in which people consume media is changing, editors will continue to add value by reviewing and revising drafts and keeping the style and voice of a publication consistent.