Deadlines often come up 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most newspapers
have reacted by setting up a sister website that keeps pace with the events
of the day. The regular print version still puts out its daily editions. In
fact, many newspaper websites still look like their paper-based cousins.
Some papers use their print reporters for their Internet editions. Other
papers have a team of reporters just for their website. In fact, some of the
stories written for the web-based edition are often picked up for the print
Since newspapers nearly always work around the clock, there may be two
editors: a day editor and a night one. Their jobs are almost the same. The
day editor will spend more time in meetings with management and advertisers,
however. These people don't usually want to have a meeting at 2:30 a.m.
A newspaper editor's job is multitasking to the limit. They need to make
decisions all the time. What should go in the paper? What shouldn't? When
should it go in? And then a hot news story comes in and throws a monkey wrench
into the whole deal.
Choosing what goes into a paper is a big part of the work. But editors
often have to perform the more mundane tasks like checking for errors. And
they have to edit. That is, they have to cut a story to make it fit. A good
editor can do this and still keep the story interesting.
Many editors contribute to the paper, too. Gail Martin is a newspaper editor.
"As well, I cover my own municipal beat and write editorials," she says.
At another newspaper, co-editor Julie Murchison Harris handles "telephone
calls and other communications from concerned citizens who want to voice an
opinion on something we ran or on a community issue important to them."
An editor is a lot like a sports coach. They have to organize, give orders,
make decisions, meet with staff and management and maintain a clear vision
of their goal.
They have to plan future activities, like what general themes and stories
the paper will cover over the coming months. With this in mind, they may hire
freelance writers to develop stories to be used at a later date.
Much of an editor's work is still done from a desk. A computer and a bank
of telephones are the tools.
Someone who is physically challenged can do an editor's work. But editor
John Arendt makes an interesting point. "Nearly every editor I know started
out as a reporter, and the demands of that job can be hard for a physically
challenged individual," he says.
At a smaller paper with limited resources, the editor can do nearly everything
on the paper. They write the stories, edit them, do the ads, handle the phones
and take out the trash.
Editor Jerry West says his job is like that. He does the "reporting, editing,
layout, accounting, advertising and janitorial."