by Breane Lyga
The relationship between editors and reporters is complex.
When reporters work on a story, they are in the zone. Most reporters want no feedback when in this zone. After spending hours chasing sources and interviewing there’s an hour until deadline. The reporter is still working on his lede.
His editor walks over, and to the reporter, he is a pest. He wants to finish his story in peace without his editor breathing, “You need to move that quote over,” and “you need to cut this first.” down his neck.
However, an editor has her own job. She must oversee the reporter. It is the editor’s job to make sure the story fits the news hole. To correct mistakes. To make sure the story is finished. The editor must do this for a number of reporters all at once.
The relationship between an editor and a reporter sounds like a game of cat and dog. They are on the same team, not against each other. An editor must be able to count on her reporter for a story and a reporter must be able to count on his editor for any missing links.
The Poynter Institute offers 11 steps to help build your relationship with your editor or reporter.
- Whenever possible, use the phone instead of e-mail.
- Make sure to talk to each other not just about assignments, but about what’s going on in the newsroom.
- Use e-mail for quick updates and for sharing drafts.
- Use conference calls to patch one another in to staff meetings.
- While it’s good to use the phone, don’t overuse it.
- Let each other know when your meetings and busy periods are.
- Respect time differences.
- Ask one another to e-mail a short progress report at the end of each week.
- Take advantage of visits.
- Consider using social media to stay connected.
- Distance can also sometimes be an advantage.
No matter what end of the journalism spectrum you are on remember the relationship you have with your reporter or editor is important for the quality your work.
Yoav Gonen explains some myths and realities about the relationships between editors and reporters in a newsroom.