Rule with an Iron Fist, yet Wear a Velvet Glove

“Being an editor means manipulating the staff into doing what you want — for good, not for evil,” said Michael Koretzky, GO12 co-director. “You are managers, which means you have to deal with your people.”

But how do you deal with your people effectively? Koretzky listed five edicts editors must issue:

Edict #1: Triage your issues. Save what you can.

Koretzky made a good point here. No issue will ever be perfect, so it’s important to look at the overall picture. Strive for excellence in the moment, but look ahead to the next issue, too.

Edict #2: From now on, deadline is all the time. 

At The Pendulum, we do a pretty good job staggering deadlines, but we could perhaps begin our production cycle a bit earlier. All in all, though, I think our cycle is pretty efficient.

Edict #3: You do not get better working really hard on this issue. You get better by thinking about the next issue.

This relates to Edict #1. Anything that went less-than-perfectly this production cycle can be addressed and improved during the next cycle.

Edict #4: Think big, write small. 

This is a very important point. As an editor, it’s important not to hold yourself to a different standard than your reporters. In Koretzky’s words, “If you want to impress your staff, you don’t do it by writing big stories and turning them in late. Write briefs. Do the things no one else wants to do.”

Edict #5: Start out as an asshole, ease up later. 

Perhaps it’s not a good idea to be an “asshole” editor, but it is important to lay down the law early. Otherwise, the no one will adhere to the rules, and no one will respond to the inevitable “This must stop now!” announcement by the frustrated editor. Be tough at first, then soften when things are running smoothly.

— Katie Blunt


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