August 29th, 2012
Editors are not the enemy
By Dana E. Neuts
Believe it or not, editors are not the red-pen-wielding ogres we imagine them to be. In fact, many of them are just like us. They have a penchant for writing and editing, they believe in reporting the truth, and they want to do it as succinctly as possible. They want readers and viewers, just like we do.
I’ll go one step further and say that editors can be our best allies when trying to make our stories the very best they can be. They see the heart of the story that we can’t see, and they show us how to polish it up and make it shine. They check our facts and fix our mistakes, without credit or even a byline. They are the silent, steadfast professionals that push us harder.
Sure, there are a few I’d prefer not to work with again (and vice versa), but I encourage you to make peace with your editors and accept their revisions and advice graciously. For those who need more tangible reasons to peacefully co-exist with editors, consider these:
1. They control the editorial calendar, assignments and budget.
2. It’s a small world. Editors sometimes move around a lot, and they talk to each other, just like we do. If you have a good relationship, their future jobs could benefit you. If not, you may miss some opportunities.
3. We can learn from the advice and experience of our editors.
4. We can depend on them to be our internal advocate when we want to try a different type of story, have not been paid on time or need an introduction to a fellow editor.
5. They can be the voice of reason when it is too painful to “kill our darlings.”
[This blog is dedicated to a few of my favorite editors: Becca, Bill, Chris, Randy and Lisa. My writing and reporting is better because of you.]
Dana E. Neuts is a full-time freelance writer and editor and is the publisher of iLoveKent.net and iLoveWashington.net. An avid SPJ volunteer, she is the regional director for SPJ’s region 10, serves on the membership committee, and is the chair for the freelance committee. She is also a candidate for the office of national SPJ Secretary/Treasurer. Followe her on Twitter (@SPJDana, @SPJFreelance, @VirtuallyYourz).