Handbook of Independent Journalism (5) : Editing The Story

In addition to reporters, broadcast newsrooms have presenters or “anchors” who appear on the air and introduce the stories the reporters have covered that day. Radio and television anchors usually appear on more than one newscast per day.

The title of editor in a television newsroom sometimes is given to the person charged with the technical production of news stories, the one who cuts the video and sound together to make the finished product that goes on the air.

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In many newsrooms, the photojournalist who shot the video does the cutting, working with a script written and voiced by the reporter.

The Editor’s Role
Recent job listing for an editor at a small newspaper read, “This person should have strong writing, editing, and layout skills. … He or she should be accurate, responsible, able to work well within a team atmosphere, and possess supervisory skills.”

A large television station seeking to hire a new producer asked for “expert news judgment … superior writing skills … must have management skills, must be multi-task oriented, and well organized.”

As you can see, editors need to be strong journalists and newsroom leaders. ey are involved in the news process from beginning to end. Editors need good news judgment because they serve as assignment managers, responsible for deciding what stories will be covered and by whom.

They must be good writers in order to help to shape the story as it is developing, discussing it with reporters in the field and deciding where to deploy more people to cover additional angles.

Editors are directly involved in decisions about story presentation, writing or choosing headlines, captions, photos, and illustrations. And they must lead and motivate the employees who report to them.

Editors and producers work closely with reporters, discussing and reviewing their stories. Newspaper editors check copy, choose illustrations — either graphics or photos — and decide how the story will be laid out on the page as well as the headline.

In most broadcast newsrooms, reporters do not record their scripts or assemble their stories until a producer has approved the content. Producers also decide the order of stories in the newscast and the amount of time to be allocated to each story.

Copy Editing
Editors serve as a second set of eyes looking for any errors in a story. The emphasis here is on a second set of eyes. That’s because reporters should always check their own copy for accuracy before submitting it to an editor.

A first draft is a good start, but that’s all it is. Every writer should allow some time for revising his or her own copy. Good writing, by definition, requires rewriting.

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