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Assistant metro editor
Examples of Work
Education page edited by Marilyn Garateix
A front-page story edited by Marilyn Garateix
Assistant metro editor/education
The Boston Globe
Why did you become a journalist?
I wanted to get paid to write. One of my high school English teachers suggested journalism. I began working on my high school newspaper and loved it.
What are your main duties as an assistant metro editor?
I oversee the education team, a group of reporters who cover what happens in Massachusetts public and private schools. In addition, I was recently given the responsibility of producing a Sunday education section which the Globe has just re-launched and re-designed. It highlights issues in the classroom and puts more of a spotlight on education.
Do you come up with a lot of stories ideas or expect the reporters to do so?
Both. It is each reporter's responsibility to seek out, develop and pitch story ideas on their beats. I also assign reporters stories based on news tips that I receive or press releases that are sent to the Globe.
When you started out in journalism, was it your goal to be an editor?
No. I wanted to be a reporter. But then I became editor-in-chief of my college paper, The Miami Hurricane at the University of Miami in Florida. It gave me the chance to direct coverage and make decisions on how to produce a newspaper, from beginning to end. The hands-on experience was invaluable. That's why I requested, early on in my journalism career, the chance to become an editor. (My editors were shocked, most reporters want to remain reporters).
What's the best part of your job?
I think the most satisfying aspect is being part of a team that creates a new product every day using words. I love working with reporters to conceptualize stories, create elements to complement them (photos or graphics) and then edit a story to develop a complete package that is useful and/or meaningful to readers. I know it seems intangible since my byline is not on the work, but it's a rush.
What's the most challenging?
Keeping sane. Seriously, being patient and persistent are keys to flourishing -- and surviving -- in this business. Those of us who care deeply about doing the best work possible get frustrated when things don't exactly work out as intended or planned. You have to develop a balanced approach. You have to care about stories, but know when to let them go. You have to fight for stories, but know when you've lost the battle. You have to push for answers, but know when a friendly approach might work better than an in-your-face attack.
Is there such a thing as a typical workday for you?
I've learned to expect the unexpected and I'm never bored. But there are some constants to an editor's day. At 10:15 a.m. the metro editor meets with all the assistant metro editors to discuss the stories developing for the next day's newspaper. (Often, I have talked to my reporters the previous night to determine which stories they'll be working on the next day.)
I spend the next few hours monitoring how stories progress and coordinating photos and graphics. I plan ahead for the next day, for weekend stories and for the education section. I also edit any stories that have been filed. By 3:15 p.m. reporters must send me "budget lines,' one paragraph descriptions of stories, and I place those on the electronic "daily budget.'
The editors of each department, metro, business, sports, etc., meet at 3:30 p.m. to discuss which stories to put on Page 1 and the status of other stories. If a story is slated for Page 1, reporters must send over the first few paragraphs of their stories by 5 p.m., when the editor, managing editor and other top editors decide which stories will go on Page 1.
The metro editor and assistant metro editors then meet to discuss the lineup for the metro section. We decide which story has the best art to display, what's the best news story to lead with and other stories that will create a balanced page. This is when editors push to get their reporters' story on the metro front, which usually will have about 4-5 stories. The competition to get stories on Page 1 and the metro front is intense.
Reporters must file stories between 5 and 7 p.m., unless it is a breaking news story or they have special permission. I edit the stories as they're filed, but must have everything over to be copyedited by 7:30 p.m.
I do it all over again the next day.
In your job, you sometimes have to critical of others' work. Is this difficult or just part of the job?
It is never easy to point out shortcomings or problems, but it is vital in a business based on credibility. No one's perfect, but our job is to always do it better. I'm wary of reporters who don't self-edit or don't care when editors change things. It's their byline on the story. I respect reporters who are meticulous about their copy and care enough to tell me when I've done something wrong. In turn, I believe reporters respect editors who are demanding and constantly challenging them. Constructive criticism is an important element to creating any good story.
What does the First Amendment mean to you?
It means I can do my job without fear. In 1959, my parents fled Cuba because their freedom to live the way the wanted -- and to speak their minds -- was threatened. I was taught to appreciate that I grew up in a place that cherished freedom of speech.
What are the characteristics of a great reporter?
The best reporters I know are tenacious, aggressive, passionate, determined, focused, confident enough to admit when they don't know something, curious, compassionate, caring, willing to take risks with their writing, someone editors can count on to come back with the story, good observers, creative writers, wonderful storytellers.
What advice do you have for aspiring journalists?
- Read everything to identify good -- and bad -- writing. Write, write, write. At first, small- to medium-sized papers can sometimes offer the best chance to practice the craft. Try to develop a voice for your writing as soon as possible and then hone it.
- Find out what every editor expects of you and tell them what you expect in return. Communicate.
- Find a mentor, someone to confide in, someone that can offer advice on your writing and your career -- and someone who can simply be a sympathetic ear to complain about your editor.
- Network. One of the best moves I made was joining the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I have made valuable connections. But groups like this also can offer support when you most need it.
- Seek out challenges, don't wait for someone to give them to you or you may be waiting a long, long time.
- Never give up when the hard knocks come calling -- and they will.