True to their reputation, newspaper editors are busy people who face constant deadlines and must evaluate information quickly. Keep this truism in mind if you wish to send an email introducing yourself as a newspaper editor who would like to join an editor’s staff. Follow a newspaper industry maxim: Don’t bury the lead, which means your e-mail should get directly to the point. Like most newspaper articles, the first two paragraphs of your e-mail will be vital, so make them succinct and memorable.
State your most vaulted editing position in the opening line of the e-mail, along with your purpose for writing. Remember that an editor wants to know why you are writing, so don’t be afraid to spell it out. You might say, for example, “As a former copy editor at the London Telegraph, I would like to join the editing staff of (name the paper).”
Summarize the length of your experience along with your most winning professional attributes and contributions. For example, editors must be conscientious, detail-oriented and tenacious. They also must thrive on deadline pressure and work well with others, especially the writers whose work they edit. You might say, for example, “In my six years at the Telegraph, I distinguished myself as a (list your attributes) editor on the night news desk who worked on a number of important articles, including (provide an overview).”
Provide a reference and a phone number in the interest of saving the editor valuable time. You might say, for example, “I am confident that the Telegraph’s copy desk chief would be happy to elaborate on my contributions to the paper. Please feel free to contact him at (supply the phone number).” You might also wish to amplify on your other attributes and the contributions you could make to the newspaper. A deft segue might be, “This editor also might say that I…”
Summarize any other editing jobs you have held. Then refer to your resume, which you should attach to the e-mail along with a list of references.
Clarify your next intended step and then specify your intention. You might say, for example, “I will call you in a few days with the hope of setting up an interview to discuss an editing position on your staff. In the meantime, I thank you for your consideration. I look forward to talking with you.”
Read your email out loud, ensure that every word is spelled correctly, the punctuation is spot-on and every sentence reads clearly. These are the hallmarks of a good editor, and in this way, your email will make an important impression.
Eliminate any “$50” and “flowery” words in favor of more simple, common words. Far from impressing a newspaper editor, “big words” might convey that you are a “big shot” and therefore not well-suited to edit newspaper articles. Remember that most newspaper articles are written for people who possess an eighth-grade reading level – an unadvertised fact but another industry maxim.
- It can be difficult to get an editor on the phone, so if after a few follow-up phone calls you still cannot get in touch with the editor to schedule an interview, leave a voicemail message or send a followup email.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: The Parts of a Memo
- University of Toronto: Style and Editing
- Letters From the Homeroom: Request Letters
- Office Writing.com: Request Letters
- The New St. Martin’s Handbook; Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors; 1999.
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