Ask A Pro
Design and presentation director
design and presentation director
The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.
What qualities should a person have if he or she is thinking about being an editor?
You must have energy, enthusiasm, a worldly and curious view and the ability to achieve good work through others.
You also need to have achieved at whatever you chose to do originally -- reporting, photography, graphics, design, copy editing; have intellectual curiosity; work well with others; are interested in other aspects of the newsroom; and have an ability to solve problems or at least
Here are qualities that all good leaders share:
>> They are approachable, up-front, fair and open to new ideas and thoughts.
>> They are teachers, but are not afraid to learn new things and never afraid to admit they are wrong.
>> They communicate.
>> They are kind, patient and take the time to listen -- and give credit where and when it is due.
>> They always lead by example, and when the opportunity presents itself, they are not afraid to take chances.
>> They value creativity, but understand that not everyone has the skill set to do the jobs they sometimes are asked to perform, so they find ways to teach.
>> Most importantly, they love what they do.
What do you look for in young aspiring editors?
Some editors look for that want-to attitude; beyond that, they look at their competencies. Editors want someone who already is skilled at what they do, and someone who shows an ability to learn and to grow. They also should be able to work with others and show an affinity for solving problems.
A recruiter for a major newspaper group says he looks for strong leadership qualities, first and foremost. Also, among other things:
>> Enthusiasm, tempered only by maturity.
>> Solid news judgment honed by experience.
>> A sense of fair play and a strong ethical core.
>> An understanding of the value of diversity and the inclusion of many voices.
What is the role of mentoring?
Mentoring is a way of recognizing our accomplishments. For many minorities, mentoring is perhaps the most important aspect in encouraging and preparing the new “non-traditional” leaders. When minorities who aspire to be managers see more people like themselves in leadership positions, it shows them that it is possible to accomplish their goals. Also, a mentor may have encountered some of the challenges a new leader might face and consequently help them overcome some of those difficult tasks.
What experience does an aspiring editor need?
It is crucial that you learn about and understand the people you oversee and the communities you cover. Here are some other experiences another editor shared with me:
>> People experience: Interaction with individuals from all walks of life. Exposure to people of different levels of knowledge, talent and personality.
>> Real-world experience: An editor should feel comfortable walking the beat, as well as writing or editing or photographing a story. He/she should know his community and its needs.
>> Newsroom experience: If not directly hands-on, then involvement with a team at all levels, from all departments.
What is the best way to break in as a new editor?
Be the best at what you do -- and then some. Learn as much as you can about the newsroom. Make friends with the artists, copyeditors, designers, photographers and reporters. Learn what makes them good at their craft. Make the most of the opportunities that come your way. Prepare yourself by learning what you can from everyday experiences. Then, you will get your chance to show what you’re made of when the big story hits and you’re the one chasing it.