The duties and responsibilities of a senior editor vary depending on the needs of the media organization. There is, however, one constant element that defines the position: She is crucial to planning and shaping content, usually for a print or online news organization. Success in this position calls for a combination of project management; the ability to edit for accuracy, clarity and quality; and superior writing skills.
The primary function of a senior editor goes beyond the mechanics of copy editing to ensure a consistent voice and adherence to the article’s intended scope, as well as the publication’s quality standards and style guidelines. It may involve fact-checking to verify article details, as well as authenticating sources. Some times this requires reading an article several times to assure the author got it right. Communicating changes to writers in a constructive manner is an important part of the job The objective is to offer appraisals that inspire writers to do their best work and avoid undermining their confidence.
Article Ideas & Writing
A senior editor often brainstorms story ideas or themes for an upcoming issue. These ideas and concepts are often bandied about during senior level editorial meetings that include managing or executive editors. Once a consensus has been reached, the senior editor may be asked to do some leg work. She may conduct research, perform interviews, conceptualize art or other visual material or contribute entire articles according to the assigned scope, voice and word count. With a strong grasp on writing to maintain an author’s voice, senior editors may also ghost write for columnists or authors as needed.
Assignments & Schedules
Working with a managing editor, a senior editor may help establish deadlines and production schedules for upcoming editions. She may also assign content visuals and articles to in-house staff and freelance writers while communicating deadlines and specific requirements. A senior editor should be available to answer questions writers and other editors may have with respect to their assignments. She must also troubleshoot problems, respond to reader complaints and questions, and find solutions as needed.
People & Project Management
Optimizing resources and staying on track to meet multiple – and often overlapping – deadlines is a big part of a senior editor’s job. This calls for strong organizational, time management, planning and communication skills. Success requires that she think quickly on her feet to meet unexpected challenges and juggle numerous tasks.
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.