Handbook of Independent Journalism (5) : Editing The Story

IT’S nine o’clock in the morning, and the editorial meeting in the newsroom begins with a discussion of the stories everyone is working on for that day. Some reporters and photographers already have assignments and are out covering today’s news.

A few got their assignments last night; others were sent out early this morning after a conference call involving top news managers.

Reporters who do not have assigned stories yet “pitch” their story ideas at the meeting, seeking a manager’s approval to produce that story for tonight’s newscast or tomorrow’s newspaper.

The assignment editor runs through a list of scheduled events that may or may not merit coverage. Once the decisions are made, the managers put together a “budget,” or line-up of stories that they hope will soon be available for publication or broadcast.

At that point, you might think the managers could sit back and relax. But no decision in a newsroom is ever set in stone.

Almost inevitably, plans change. News will happen that was not anticipated, and stories will be dropped because they didn’t turn out as expected.

Others will require more reporting and won’t be completed today. Deciding what to run, what to drop, and what to hold is the job of the news managers, the editors, and producers.

They will choose and change the stories of the day based on importance, interest, new developments, and the time or space available.

But the editor’s job still isn’t done. Before the newspaper goes to press or the broadcast hits the air, editors have another critical role to play.

It’s their job to ensure that the stories presented to the public are well written and presented, as well as accurate, complete, and fair.

Most newsrooms have more than one editor. No single person could handle the volume of stories produced by most news organizations every day.

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