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« Warnersville in moving pictures | Main | Warnersville matters »

Oct 02, 2015

Comments

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Hartzman

They won't tell the real story.

Hartzman

In my view, the lack of editors isn't the root of the problem.

The ownership of the business and a reluctance by management to provide readers with the truth about what's actually happening in the economy is the problem.

Roch

It seems more to me another example of a particular reporter who, at times, can write some rather unfocused stories where aspersions, implied and explicit, stand in for substance.

Ed Cone

I'm a fan of the reporter, and I see no aspersions in the article, just a grossly underdeveloped idea--and that falls largely on the editors.

Ideally, the process works like this:
1.Reporter chases lead
2.Reporter pitches story
3.Editor shapes story with queries about context, etc.
4.Reporter finds additional detail, adds context, files story
5.Editor glosses with deep knowledge of subject

Clearly some steps were missed here. Given the depleted newsroom staff and loss of institutional memory on Market Street, Occam's Razor cuts toward editorial weakness and deteriorating process.

Roch

We are both attempting to explain shortcomings; you attribute them to a plausible guess about editors, I'm thinking it is likely that this is another instance of this reporter doing some bad reporting again: See 2014 Reckless Reporting of the Year Award

Ed Cone

To the larger point that reporters make mistakes and some reporters make a lot of them, yes, that's another reason reporters need editors.

I miss the days when kindly Uncle Warren was going to save daily newspapers.

Roch

Agreed. But here is what I've never quite understood about the editor, reporter relationship: If editors are the ones who posses the necessary skills to identify worthy stories, understand the context and bring the deeper knowledge, why aren't they doing the reporting? Especially at a time of thin resources, why is this verticle relationship maintained? Why are superior skills not on the front lines?

Is it simply that two heads are better then one and there has to be some clear division of labor so somebody gets this role we call editor? Because it seems, and perhaps I'm wrong, that the editor is expected to be superior in talent and knowledge which, by default, sets expectations lower for reporters.

What does an organization look like that says: "You have a nose for news, understand how to develop context, have vast and deep knowledge, are a dillgent fact checker and a stickler for good writing? Great! You're hired! As a reporter. Cub Johnny here is not as skilled as, you, so he will assist you."

Ed Cone

Editing and reporting are different jobs. Closely related and complementary, not but identical.

I wouldn't say the editor is expected to be superior in talent, or even in specific knowledge of a good reporter's beat. But often the editor has more experience, and more focus on the global and institutional outlook.

At the very least, the editor brings fresh eyes and asks the reporter for clarification and detail that the reporter, being so close to the draft, thinks are obvious, or suggests structural changes that improve flow (not all good reporters are good writers, and even those that are benefit from a solid edit; my writing is routinely improved by junior staff, and as an editor I might add value to even a world-class reporter). Also: Assignments, long-term projects, work-flow, placement, fit with other articles...lots for an editor to do.

Plenty of talented reporters stay in that role for much or all of their careers. Others move into editing, which is generally seen as a promotion and probably comes with a salary bump and a shot at more to come. As with any promotion, some people move from an area of great competence to one they are less good at, while others are good at editing, too. Some great editors find they hate the managerial aspect of the job, some are born to it. And so on.

The big question: How do news organizations with drastically reduced staffs retain the benefits of proper editorial oversight? I don't know. Maybe move to more peer editing, although all the peers are overstretched these days, too. Maybe put enough bodies on the job to do it right, and trust that a good product will win out in the marketplace even if the old monopoly margins are gone for good? Or, maybe they don't, and quality is as dead as those margins.

Roch

Thanks for the perspective and insight.

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