Managing Editor Job Description
Managing editors review, revise, and proofread written works for publication. People in this position are also responsible for training and editing writers, polishing and proofreading written work, and ensuring that all media (such as images and videos) included with the writing is properly sourced. Managing editors are in a leadership role, but they still report to the editor-in-chief of any publication. Managing editors work in a number of environments, including newsrooms and magazine offices, but they may also work from home on a freelance basis as independent contractors.
Managing Editor Duties and Responsibilities
Managing editors may be hired by any type of publication producing written content, including book publishers. No matter the industry, their core duties usually include:
Editing and Rewriting Copy
Managing editors must edit and sometimes rewrite the written work of writers and occasionally even associate editors.
Approve Story Pitches
Managing editors are responsible for approving or rejecting story pitches from writers.
Write Original Content
In addition to editing written works, managing editors may also write their own original content for publication. This includes letters from the editor, blog posts, and articles.
Brainstorm Story Ideas
Managing editors are responsible for finding and creating story ideas for writers to flesh out.
Assign Stories to Writers
Managing editors also assign stories to writers. In this role, managing editors determine how many words a piece of content should contain and whether any links and supplemental media are required.
Create Marketing Strategies
The business of writing doesn’t end with writing and editing. Managing editors must also create and employ various marketing strategies in order to get more people to read the published content.
Hire and Train Writers
Managing editors also hire and train freelance and staff writers to contribute content to the publication.
Managing Editor Skills and Qualifications
Publishers looking for managing editors seek out professionals who have the right education or background in writing and editing, but they prefer potential candidates with these additional talents:
- Mastery of English – managing editors need a strong command of the English language and excellent writing skills in order to edit content written by others
- Editing skills – managing editors must have a firm grasp of grammar and punctuation to eliminate errors and ensure copy reads smoothly; they also need a good sense of writing rhythm to eliminate fluff and any unnecessary words
- Leadership skills – managing editors edit and proofread writer content, which puts them in a leadership role, so past experience with supervising or managing others is highly sought after by employers
- Sales and marketing – managing editors need to know how to promote content, which requires some past experience and skill with sales and marketing
Tools of the Trade
Managing editors work with a variety of software programs in the course of their regular job duties. These tools include:
- Word processing software (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, OpenOffice)
- Cloud software (Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox)
- Online content platforms (WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger)
- Communication software (email, Skype, Slack)
Managing Editor Education and Training
Most publications require their managing editors to have a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications, or a related field. Relevant work experience in the writing and editing industry can make up for the lack of a degree. Either way, publications prefer candidates with prior writing and editing experience.
Typically, managing editors receive a very short training program. Most publications provide their managing editors with resources, like style guides, and ask them to familiarize themselves with past content in order to absorb the flavor and tone of the publication. Managing editors may also be introduced to the writing staff in person or via email, but that’s the extent of the training typically provided.
Managing Editor Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for editors is $57,210. Through 2026, the job outlook for editors is projected at negative 1 percent, which reflects little or no change in the industry.
Unless managing editors find employment with a longstanding and highly successful publication, benefits are not generally offered to people in this career field. Health insurance, life insurance, retirement perks, paid holidays, and even vacation pay are rare, and these benefits are never offered to managing editors who work on a freelance or independent contractor basis.
Find ways to become a managing editor and succeed in this career using these helpful books and websites:
International Society of Managing and Technical Editors – ISMTE provides professionals with information about events, a discussion forum for networking, and multiple resources for career advancement and education
Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies – this book takes a simple and straightforward approach to editing and proofreading the written word. It also covers information about building a freelance career as an editor
Associated Press Media Editors – this association has a career center, an idea center, content information, news, an events calendar, and even benefits for members
The Editor’s Companion: An Indispensable Guide to Editing Books, Magazines, Online Publications, and More – this guidebook covers all the basic functions of being an editor, including how to choose the right words, recognizing common grammar problems, and keeping pieces of writing well-focused and to the point
Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders, and Indexers – use the AFEPI website to find information about determining rates, connect with other editors, and find writers
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