Managing editors manage so much more than editing. If a newspaper or magazine were a train, they’d be the conductors, coordinating many aspects to make sure the train runs according to schedule. Part editor, part planner, part coach, these senior members of editorial teams juggle multiple duties to ensure a publication gets out the door on schedule for readers to enjoy it.
Managing a publication’s day-to-day operations is the managing editor’s main duty. She helps determine and manages processes, budgets and staff to keep all the moving parts going toward their goal of producing a publication. She plans ahead to avoid possible bumps in the road, and when things go awry (as they sometimes do), she’s the person people turn to so things get fixed. To manage all of these aspects, a managing editor’s people and planning skills need to be unparalleled – and she needs to be able to keep calm and think clearly no matter how stressful the situation.
A master project manager, the managing editor coordinates the production schedule for the publication, coordinating with all the key positions (writers/reporters, photographers, graphic designers, layout producers) to hammer out dates for each stage of production. This determines each edition’s deadlines for each department to produce the publication on time. She plans for minimal overlap in deadlines to ensure the best results for each key player and each production stage.
The managing editor helps determine content for each edition of a publication, leading article idea generation meetings and determining which articles will go in each edition, according to the determined budget and page count. She makes assignments for visuals and articles to in- and out-of-house staff, communicating the assignment parameters and deadlines and serving as a resource for questions along the way. When staff members turn their assignments in, the managing editor oversees and manages the coordination of that content and the editing process. She coordinates with copy editors and other senior editors who have roles in editing the assignments; she may also edit each piece for adherence to the assignment and established style. She might correct any errors in the writing mechanics and verify facts within articles, as well as rewrite copy as necessary.
As a senior editorial team member, the managing editor has a key role in hiring, training and coaching most junior staff members on an editorial team. She ensures their assignment loads are workable, serves as a sounding board and helps them find solutions to challenges and continue to grow in and advance their skills.
Jennafer Martin has more than 14 years of experience in writing, editing and brand management for literary, business-to-business and consumer publications. She is a writer for Zoe Soul Spa and "Pets in the City" magazine.