In crisis coverage, we learn to wear new hats. Beats are shifting, roles are changing – all to meet the needs of the day.
What if you’ve been asked to edit, and you’ve never been an editor before?
Trust your journalistic chops and Spidey-sense. If you know what makes a good story and have a strong ethical core, you’re already well armed.
To smooth the process for everyone, have a fast conversation with your reporters about these things:
- Their usual work process. Don’t assume their research, organization, writing and reviewing process is just like yours.
- Their COVID-19 adaptive work process. What have they had to do differently these days. For example, are they sharing a home computer with a middle-schooler during certain hours? How will you work around any obstacles they’re facing, or better yet, help remove them?
- Who’s the best editor they ever worked with and what did they do differently? This is a gold mine of information.
- What you need as their editor, how you like to work and what successful writer/editor collaboration looks like to you.
- Be sure to tell each other: “What’s the best way to communicate with you — and when?”
- What’s negotiable and what’s not. (Deadlines, style, attribution, linking, corrections, ethics calls, etc.)
- How to stay in touch and stay healthy.
Finally, remember a mantra I learned from the late editor and writing coach Foster Davis:
Tie goes to the writer.
Have questions? Ask away.