Editors work on projects such as books, magazines, newspapers and websites, and there are several types of editors. For example, a copy editor, sometimes called a proofreader, often checks material for spelling, grammatical and typographical errors. On the other hand, an acquisitions editor for a publisher assesses manuscript submissions and may decide which works to publish. In general, the job of an editor is to edit and polish content.
An editor job description tends to list a mix of hard and soft skills. Hard skills usually involve knowledge of software programs and perhaps knowledge of other languages. Soft skills may include creativity, collaboration and communication.
Cultural fit with the company is important too. For example, some businesses want their editors to work firmly set hours, while others encourage telecommuting and a focus on results rather than on hours worked. For more insight, review the editor job description below.
Editor Job Summary
As an editor for our newspaper, you’ll primarily work on the night copy desk from about 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. You’ll edit news stories for grammar, clarity and content, and to ensure that they meet AP style and our in-house style. In addition, two big parts of the job are writing headlines and photo cutlines. We’re looking for someone who is exactingly, incredibly and positively detail-oriented. Nothing escapes your attention, whether it is a typo, errant hyphen or dangling modifier. You’re a champ speller and, with a few deft changes, can take a so-so story into “pretty darn good” territory. You get to stretch your creative muscles too, as we love fun headlines. Our copy desk is quirky, and many individuals fit right in.
- Edit stories for length so they fit in print edition layouts (in general, your job is NOT to rewrite copy)
- Write headlines and photo cutlines that fit the available space as well as the tone and feel of the story and photos
- Hunt down grammatical, spelling and typographical errors, actions which entail deep familiarity with AP style and in-house style
- Call reporters (or seek them out in person) to ask questions about stories; exercise good judgment under deadline pressure if questions are unanswered
- Collaborate with reporters, graphic designers and others to present concise, readable and engaging stories
- Verify information, such as phone numbers, spellings of last names and number of people involved/killed/victimized and so on
- Select local, regional and national stories/photos from the wire; sketch rudimentary designs for them to ensure fit and proper length
- Review page proofs to check other editors’ work and to ensure the correctness of dates, section headers and other key information
Job Skills & Qualifications
- Bachelor’s degree or higher in journalism, English, communications or a related field
- One to two years of journalism experience
- Creativity and critical thinking
- Ability to work nights, weekends and holidays
- Knowledge of Adobe InCopy and InDesign
Writing a high-quality editor job description is a step in the right direction. Of course, you should proofread it too, especially since it is for an editor job. Once all that is done, though, how do you ensure the right mix of applicants learn about the job opening? Many companies post their job openings on their social media accounts and on their websites.
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