Don’t Settle for a Good Editor; Seek Newsrooms Full of Them

By Joe Grimm

A reporter who is interviewing this month told me, “I keep searching for that one good editor.”

I told him not to. Instead, he should look for a good team.

The problem is that a good editor is most likely to be promoted or hired away. Good editors are much more mobile than bad ones.

So the thing to look for is a newsroom with a track record of producing good editors. Look for an editor factory. You’ll see good editors come and go, you’ll learn from them as they get better and you’ll have contacts throughout the industry.

These are signs of newsrooms that produce good editors:

• They are conscientious about hiring. They know that talent is a treasure and work hard to attract it.
• When you background the company on LinkedIn, you find that its editors move on to other good newsrooms or bigger jobs.
• Editors exhibit freedom, autonomy and ideas.
• They invest in training and seminars.
• Veteran reporters speak well of several editors, not just one or two.

Pay attention to where good editors land. They do not take jobs with lousy teams unless they plan an overhaul.

When you hear about newsrooms that turn out good editors, track the editors there and establish relationships with them. A newsroom with excellent editors by design is likely to continue hiring and grooming the great ones.

Joe Grimm, a consultant and adjunct faculty member of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, recruited for the Detroit Free Press, Knight Ridder and Gannett from 1990 until 2008. He now teaches at the Michigan State University School of Journalism. He has run the JobsPage journalism careers site at www.jobspage.com since 1996. Questions about careers? E-mail Joe for an answer.

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