What does an editor do? …

…It’s not an ‘Answers on a Postcard, Please’ moment, or a rhetorical question (although I guess it’s one many working in the news industry have asked, in varying tones of frustration, at one time or another). 

For the purposes of this blog post, however, it is part of my MA dissertation I’m tackling on the Journalism Leaders course at UCLan
When I embarked on the hunt for a topic which merited 20,000 words of my deathless prose I was interested in editorial responsibilities in terms of entrepreneurship, and innovation and change management

Then, after it was gently pointed out that the dissertation deadline was September 2012, not – as my broad field of interest would have required – before the eventual collapse of the universe, I had to refine the topic. 
It came down to this: What do editors do? What will they be required to do in the face of industry disruption, and what can the role become? 

I’m not looking at broadcast media challenges and I’m mainly focused on the UKas the role seems to have different scopes and definitions in some other countries.
Also, it was partly fueled by the UK responses to the World News Future & Change Study (2010), where publishing executives discussed their strategic and operational goals and challenges for the immediate future.
Globally, responses post to the open-ended question: “What is the single most important change that has to be implemented in your newspaper over the next year?” included

  •    Content/journalism
  •    Leadership/management/strategy
  •    Convergence
  •    Internet/technologies
  •    Culture change

Internationally, there was a strong feeling existing leaders were unprepared for these next steps, but it was the UK respondents who saw leadership training/development as the logical solution.
So I’m approaching the issue from the point of view that if there is a stated strategic goal for change, and an understanding that editorial leaders need development to meet that goal, what competencies does an editor require now, and in the coming years?

It means I need editors to say, anonymously if they wish, what their present role entails, what their average day comprises, what areas they feel they need more development in, and what challenges they are facing. 
I’m running a questionnaire on SurveyMonkey which, by the way, is a great sampling tool and gives you up to 10 questions free. I chose the market research template, and my questions are a mix of multiple choice, rating, ranking, comment and text. 
You can find the survey here and if you’re able to assist me by taking the survey, or pinging it around the interwebs to reach as many media executives as possible, you’ll have my deepest gratitude. (And huge thanks to Hold The Front Page and the Society of Editors for kind assistance in highlighting it.)

Now I’ve got the topic sorted and am researching things, I’m nose-deep in interesting journals and papers  (there are a lot of interesting papers and journals out there – it’s daunting how many, to be honest). 
I’ve created a Delicious Stack of some of the readings I’ve found interesting. It’s the first time I’ve really found a Stack worthwhile and it may even lure me back to start using Delicious again more often.

Photo credit –  the Cheezburger faries, of course.Where else are you going to get teh cute kitteh on keyboard photo from? 
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