Tough Editors and Good Reporters
Editors are commonly lambasted. They are the ones who destroy your story, mess up your information, make it harder for you to write, and all that jazz. And some of that’s true, but they are also the ones who take sloppy work and turn it into gold.
I have had good editors. Not perfect, but good. They have all been respectable and respectful. They have been fair to me and given me the leeway I needed. Normally, they were in it for the story and we got along.
I’ve had some copy messed up by editors, but I’ve had a lot more saved by them. I’ve fought with editors who didn’t want to run a story, but I’ve had a lot more assistance and support from them.
An editor is a designated bad guy—reporters and instructed to blame things on him in order to get the story—they sacrifice being likable for the sake of the news. They enforce deadlines and insist on quality. They aid the reporters in research and in reporting and in writing. They have to track everything that’s going on and keep up with it all.
It is a tough job. I enjoyed it for the six months I was an editor at a college newspaper and I look forward to being an editor at the Hillsdale Collegian for the next two school years.
I was reminded of the significance of the editor while looking at the award received by one of my reporters. She worked hard for that award and did a good job on her story and deserved it. But she won it in part because of the work I put into that story. I sent her back to her sources three times for more reporting. I made her spend a month on the project. I made her rewrite it. I edited it. I made it a big, time-consuming project. It was a better story and she was a better reporter because I was a tough editor. And she won.
The editor can make that difference—bringing out the talent of his reporters and pushing them until they have done everything they have the ability to do. It should be a blessing among reporters: “And may you have a tough editor!”