1. What exactly do you do?
- What field is your job in?
- What is your job title?
- Please provide a brief description of the firm or organization that you currently work for (size and general description of what type of organization it is)
I work for a daily newspaper in a suburb of a large city. Our circulation is ranges from 30,000 to 55,000 daily
- How long have you been employed in this position?
Three at this paper, 10 at papers in our chain
- How many hours do you work a week on average?
45 to 50
- Please provide a BRIEF description of your duties and responsibilities. (job description)
45 to 50
- Please provide a BRIEF description of your duties and responsibilities. (job description)
I edit articles, assign stories to reporters, design news pages, copy edit stories and oversee the copy desk.
- What was your gross income last year? Please include any bonuses or incentives received.
- What is your expected gross income for this year? Please include any bonuses or incentives you expect to receive.
- Please list any benefits you have (Please include number of weeks vacation, sick leave and type of health insurance, retirement plan 401k)
Three weeks vacation, four sick days per year, PPO health insurance and 401(k) with profit sharing.
- Do you feel you are under/well/over compensated at your current position?
I receive more than the norm so that I make slightly more than the union employees I oversee.
2. Work environment!
- Does your job entail you working with others on a daily basis? Is this something you like/dislike about your job? Explain
I oversee our team of copy editors and designers, check their work, schedule them, etc. I enjoy the editing and design aspect of the job more than the day to day management items. I also work with reporters to make their stories better and discuss how stories should be handled, which is satisfying when we see eye-to-eye. Similarly, I'll work with photographers to give my opinion of which photos best suit the stories. That's satisfying too, because when we work together, we end up with a better newspaper.
- Do you work collaboratively with supervisors/managers?
- Do you work collaboratively with your co-workers?
- Describe your work location (e.g., office, home, theatre, in the field) and what you like/dislike about working in it
As with any job that is a "craft," the people on the creative side occasionally see editors as the enemy out to stop them from doing things the cool way. But then we do things that make what they do better, and they usually come to begrudgingly accept that we're all here to do help each other. It's rare to run into someone who is out to make the product worse or to sabotage co-workers.
- Please rank in order of importance from 1-8 (1- most important 8- least important) Assign each number once.
- 2 Income
- 3 Work Environment - co-workers
- 1 Work Environment - supervisors
- 4 Benefits
- 5 Hours
- 1 Level of responsibility
- 1 The actual "work" you do at your job
- 5 Job Title
3. How should someone new to the workforce get a J-O-B like yours?
- If someone wanted to go about getting a job similar to yours, what would you recommend for him or her to do?
Get your foot in the door any way you can. It's not going to be the way you want it. You're not going to apply for a news editor position without journalism experience and get it.
Offer to write a free column, apply for an internship, do what you need to do. Newspapers need people, but they don't know they need YOU until you're already there. You can usually work your way up quickly if you're competent, kind and ready to work.
- What skills do you think a person should have if they want to pursue a position like yours? Please be specific and explain why (e.g., social skills, organization skills, technical skills)
Technical skills: You need to be very computer and Internet savvy. Video and audio skills are a plus. Newspapers are put together on computers, and communication has move to e-mail. Newspaper companies are becoming online media companies. If you're not Net savvy, you'll get left behind.
Organization: You'll need to be able to balance work being done on multiple pages, coming in at different times, in a deadline environment.
Social skills: You'll need to get along with your writers, editors and photographer and you'll need to be able to mollify angry customers who call. Being nice to one customer on the phone can save several subscriptions.
Graphic design and photo skills: You should know the basics of design, what looks good on a page, and have the know how to get it done in Quark or InDesign. Gone are the days where an editor can sit back and not be involved in production. You should also be familiar with digital photo basics: how to check photo size, etc.
Grammar skills: You need to be a star at the English language and the ins and outs of writing that make other people quiver. You should hate misplace apostrophes and openly malign the fact that no one seems to know how to use quote marks any more. If you're iffy on punctuation, this isn't the one for you. You should be very well read so that you know what makes a story flow well.
'Trivial' skills: You need to catch errors reporters make. This includes knowing that a year is wrong in a story that mentions a World War II battle or knowing the show is called "Today," not "The Today Show." It seems trivial, but knowing these things with help save the stories. Being well read and familiar with pop culture is a must.
- Do you feel that you need a certain level of education or training to be successful in your job?
I think you do need a degree in journalism, English or communications to have a good grasp on what we're doing and where the field is going.
- What advice would you give to someone who was about to start work in your position/ line of work?
Be organized and work to surround yourself with people who can help you. Build a dream team, because this is a job that requires many people to work together to get it done. And on deadline, tempers can flare.
Learn to forgive yourself for errors before you start. You need to take mistakes seriously, but you can't become paralyzed by errors you've made or mistakes you might make.
4. How did you get your J-O-B
- How did you find your current job? (e.g. newspaper, internet, referral, etc.)
I've worked my way up through our chain from part-time teen clerk to copy editor, to news editor. This job came because I was already doing most of after the previous news editor left.
- What was the application process for your job? (e.g. submitted resume, paper application, electronic application, all, etc.)
I've had to submit resumes for some promotions here, but I've worked in this chain since I was a teenager, so the most recent job was something I was offered out of the blue. An outside candidate would need to submit a resume.
- Did you have to interview for your current job? If yes, what did the interview process entail? (e.g., number of interviews, who you interviewed with, group interview, individual interview, etc.)
This job did not, because I had already worked here for a while, and the management knew what I could do. An outside candidate would have had to come in for two or more interviews, with the managing editor and with the copy desk, to make sure personalities meshed. The person may also have been asked to take a copy editing test on paper here.
- If you can remember, what questions were you asked at your interview?
I wasn't interviewed, but when we interviewed previous night editors, we asked about discipline style, how they held up under deadline pressure, etc.
- Is this the job / field you planned to work in?
- If your job is in a different field from your original plan how did you get here? Explain (Plan can be from high school/college/post college/personal plan)
I was majoring in education and English at college when I applied for an infrequent column-writing position at a local paper as a teenager. Instead, they called me for an interview and I ended up working a as a part-time clerk while in college. I liked editing and liked writing. My managing editor steered me toward journalism even more, and I dropped my education major.
5. Background: Are you qualified?
- Was there training for your current position? If yes, what did it entail?
There was no official training, no. At one point, I attended a day-long seminar to strengthen my skills as a new manager, but the rest of the skills were ones I picked up along the way.
- Do you feel your employer properly prepared you for your job? Explain
Yes, I do feel I was prepared. I wasn't promoted into this until I was displaying and using the skills I'd need.
- Do you feel your educational background prepared you for your job? Explain
Thank god for my English major. I'm a grammar nitpicker, which saves our paper a lot of errors. I'm also very well read, so I understand how written things should be structured to be understood and enjoyed.
- If applicable, do you feel your internship experience helped you prepare you for your job?
6. The Future and Beyond (FINAL SECTION)
- If someone were to observe you at work, what would he or she say is "fun" about your job?
It's always changing. There is never the same news twice. We get to be creative. In design, in headlines, we can have fun and create neat looking layouts with punny headlines that make the reader smile.
- What is (are) the most fulfilling aspect(s) and least fulfilling aspect(s) of your current employment? (e.g. fiscal, spiritual, type of work, hours, commute, compensation, etc.)
Most fulfilling: I'm paid a good wage. I enjoy the satisfaction of editing. I like having a finished product that represents what I've done. I also like that there is a deadline every night, after which it's a whole new game. Least fulfilling: Newspapers are hurting everywhere, which makes this a scary, doom-and-gloom industry sometimes. Everyone is tightening belts, so you can end up with more work than you were ready for. Also, for a morning newspaper, you have to put it together at night. There are no holidays off for all the employees.
- Is your current employment part of your career plan? Why or why not?
I hadn't guessed I'd be here, but I'm happy I am. I've worked my way up to this job, at my third paper in my chain. I like the product we put out, I like that I'm a step up on the food chain.
- What are your current career goals? (Can be broad or specific)
I just want to put out the best newspaper I can - be it in print or online - where I am. I don't dream of writing the great American novel or working at the New York Times. There's something noble about being in the trenches.
- Is there anything else you would like to share about your career?
Don't believe the movies. Newspaper editors aren't in their own offices with their own assistants. It's an involved job and involves more than a lot of people would ever guess. Jacks of all trades are welcome.
7. A Day in the Life Of...
- 7 am - 8 am
- 8 am - 9 am
- 9 am - 10 am
- 10 am - 11 am
- 11 am - 12 am
I get up around 11:30 and get ready. I'm a night person.
- 12 am - 1 pm
- 1 pm - 2 pm
I arrive at work at 1:30 p.m., log into my computer, check e-mail and check voice mail. I head into a news meeting a few minutes later, meeting with other editors to discuss what should be in the paper the next day. We discuss while the day editor puts together a budget for what goes where. Whoever is working on the desk that day gets copies.
- 2 pm - 3 pm
I sit at my computer and open news pages. I start to design them, finding out what stories and photos are available. If something is ready, I read it, write a headline, and save everything to the page it's on. If something isn't in yet, I leave space for it and plan to come back to it.
- 3 pm - 4 pm
- 4 pm - 5 pm
Throughout the day, I edit and layout out stories, but I also take phone calls from customers if needed, talk to reporters who have updates, tell photographers what I have and need, etc. There isn't a set time to any of this. You might go an hour without anyone asking a question or your phone might ring off the hook for three hours, meaning you don't get work done. Today, for instance, I spent 20 minutes listening to an angry customer who then felt better and was more likely to keep subscribing.
- 5 pm - 6 pm
As copy editor/designers finish pages, they print them up and give them to me, usually starting around 5:30 p.m. I examine the photos, stories, headlines, captions, design, etc., and mark up anything that is wrong or could be better. I open those page files on my computer, make my corrections and release the pages to our pre-press department.
- 6 pm - 7 pm
I edit stories as they come in (the day editor is gone), write teasers on A1, put stories on pages, check pages the other copy editors have done, talk to reporters who need things. If everything goes well, there is no breaking news. If something big happens (a fire, a tragedy), I send a reporter out and try to decide if I need a photographer. The reporter will call back to let me know what's going on, and I'll decide if it warrants a story and if so, where in the paper it will go.
- 7 pm - 8 pm
I start getting nervous about deadline. We've still got a few hours, but I start opening pages that aren't done to find out what we're waiting on. Usually, we're waiting on late lottery numbers, late weather information, obituary information from our classified department and any late-occurring news stories. If something else is missing, I call the reporter to find out why so I don't end up with a big hole in the paper 10 minutes to deadline. I'll try to take a short dinner break around this time, but I usually end up with a microwaved meal at my computer.
- 8 pm - 9 pm
I get information from the classified department. If the obituaries don't fill the space allowed for them, I need to find stories to fill it. I look for extra local stories or I look on the wire for stories from The Associated Press that have local relevance. I ask the night reporter to make final calls to local police and fire departments and to the coroner. Any late news will be added to the police blotter or made into a separate story, depending on how newsworthy I feel it is.
- 9 pm - 10 pm
This is the home stretch. We save Page A1 and the jump page for last, printing it out now for everyone on the desk to look at, not just me. I open each page and ask for corrections from each person. If I miss an A1 error, someone else is likely to catch it. I needs to be collaborative. We do the same thing with the jump page. Then the deskers jump into those pages to do things to help send them off to our press. I usually ask them to spellcheck again, after I do, just to make triple sure there are no errors on those very important pages.
- 10 pm - 11 pm
I take off at 10 p.m., our press time, but one worker stays behind to get late lottery numbers (10:03 p.m.) on a late page and to send it. He or she waits a few minutes and calls our press department to make sure they received everything. When they say everything looks good, he or she goes home.
- 11 pm - 12 pm