Sunday, April 13, 2014

What makes for a successful editor-reporter relationship in this new age?

From a reporter's perspective:

  • Shared values for digital emphasis.
  • Fearlessness, trust and mutual respect. The understanding of the difference between acting and reacting. 
  • Willingness to learn new things and try new things, and the constant curiosity and motivation to grow and change. 
  • A reliable, reciprocated follow-through of promises, balanced with a healthy dose of flexibility. 
  • Excellent communication through a variety of different mediums: chat, email, text, phone, Skype, shared documents on Google Drive, traditional planning documents and even occasional in-person contact. The ability to listen.
  • Strong self-motivation and organization. 
  • Respectful pushing past comfort zones and healthy challenges to keep things fresh. 
  • A strong ethical foundation that fosters trust, accountability and freedom. 
  • Gratitude.
Most of these are also the same traits I think go into any healthy relationship, whether professional or private. Trust, respect, curiosity, communication, gratitude.

I also asked two of the best editors I've ever had what they think. Here's what they said:

Kevin Huhn, features editor: 
Perhaps I'm too old school but I don't think it has changed. 
Both sides have to listen to each other's ideas and not be too quick to dismiss something without fully considering it. Something can look on the surface as if it might not work but it actually might work with a tweak or two.
Both sides also need to realize they are a team and need each other to succeed.
This shouldn't be as difficult a process as some folks make it.

Cindy Sutter, Essentials (food and fitness) editor: 
I think brainstorming in advance about how to handle the story and what kinds of things work, both visually and in words. If the reporter knows what she's doing, the editor's job is to encourage and add ideas, then get out of the way. If the reporter needs more guidance, then the editor should offer it.

What do you think?

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