The checklist: Thinking like an editor

By Jonathan Black

I have always seen journalists as too unsettled to stay at one publication for an extended period of time. But Bill Ellis’ who presented the session “How to think like an editor,” had worked at “The Washington Post” for thirty-three years.

Ellis’ presentation was basically an oral checklist of everything that an editor needs to do or have to succeed.  When Ellis began his list, I decided to take this as a challenge to see if The Pendulum and it’s editors meet his requirements.

I can happily report that The Pendulum can check off the majority of Ellis’ list.

Some of the points Ellis touched upon were more for the organization than the individual. These included: publishing a staff manual, make our personal stylebook and serve our readers, not those in charge at the university.

Other tips were more individualized like handling conflict correctly, cross training the staff and providing for your staff members.

The one point Ellis touched upon that I didn’t agree with is that a lead editor, like an editor-in-chief or managing editor, must be the best at everything.

I completely disagree because there is no chance someone can be the best at every component of being an editor.  I know that I’m not the best writer, photographer or copy editor  What I am is a good writer and leader; which is why I have gotten the position I am at, at The Pendulum.

For that reason, I will give myself a check.


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