Editors-in-chief are the executive editors of any publication, including newspapers, magazines, and academic and trade publications. Their objective is to manage every aspect of publication, from staff to product. Editors-in-chief are the face of a publication, and they are responsible for all decisions the publication makes.
Why Become An Editor-in-Chief
Their duties include any and all decision making with regards to stories, photographs, advertisements, printing, graphics, and social events. They may write, but most of their work includes overseeing the various editors and writers who create the publication’s contents. Part of this responsibility includes approving the final submission for publishing.
Editors-in-chief must consent to each article and photograph/graphic. Their job includes preventing libelous information and inaccuracies; making suggestions regarding themes, space, and leads; and ensuring that the publication is published on time. The role of an editor-in-chief is fast-paced, stressful, and dependent upon many qualities and skills:
Knowledgeable of AP Style (Associated Press)
Excellent communication (writing, speaking, reading, and listening)
Understanding of journalism and structure
Aware of current events
Works well under pressure
Editor-in-Chief Work Environment
Editors-in-chief work in offices, board rooms, and even at home. Through various technologies, many of them can work remotely, although direct meetings may be a necessary component of the job. For this reason, editors-in-chief may travel occasionally.
The role of an editor-in-chief is demanding, therefore, it is a fulltime position. This individual is ultimately responsible for the content and publishing of a publication, so they typically work long hours, weekends, and holidays. A journalistic work environment is also fast-paced, stressful, and ever-evolving.
For all editorial positions, a median annual salary of $54,890 can be expected. However, the salary of an editor-in-chief varies widely depending on the type, success, and prestige of a publication. Geographical location is also a determining factor for salary, with cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit being major magnets for aspiring editors. Additionally, experience and talent may dictate salary, and with all these factors in mind, editors-in-chief can make anywhere from $28,980 to $$109,940 per year.
Editor-in-Chief Career Outlook
The print industry has decreased production dramatically over the last decade, which means that job growth for editors is -5 percent. Although readers still consume some print publications, the cost cannot compete with digital publications. This medium may be an editor-in-chief’s best prospect, albeit competitive, and candidates should be sure to have training and experience with many digital tools.
Talent and experience will outweigh training for this occupation; however, most publications prefer that their editors-in-chief have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject.
Step 1: Become a journalist. People can become journalists in many different ways. Some start by writing for high school and collegiate publications, moving up to county, city, or even national publications. During or after this experience, some choose to then complete an undergraduate program.
The alternative to this is to earn a bachelor’s degree first, then work experience. During their studies, students may choose to start their writing career and work up after gaining the necessary experience. Regardless of the path, editors-in-chief have remarkable editing and writing talents, and are naturally strong leaders.
Note: Many editors-in-chief start their careers as writers and work as many different types of section editors before landing a position as an editor-in-chief.
Step 2: Obtain a bachelor’s degree. Earning a degree in communications, journalism, English, or related field is necessary to obtaining the skills and knowledge required for a positions as an editor-in-chief. Coursework should include communication skills, media, current events, marketing, and other related preparatory education. It is important for individuals who aspire to be an editor-in-chief to gain experience, either through internship or work. Cross-media and mass-media experience is also beneficial, along with a strong understanding of the publishing process, marketing, legal, and fundraising aspects of journalism.