This document is a supplement to
Editing for Clear Communication
Copyright 1996-1999,
Thom Lieb


No portion may be reused without the author's permission.

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Further Reading:
Eric K. Meyer, "To <B> or Not To <B>: How journalism schools address the challenge of training online journalists", AJR NewsLink, September 23-29, 1997.

Steve Outing, "School's in Session: What Students Need to Learn," Editor & Publisher Interactive, 3-4 Sept. 1997. ($)

Jobs Page

Christopher Harper, "Doing It All," American Journalism Review, December 1996, Pages 24-29.

"Inventing an Online Newspaper" by Mindy McAdams

Christina Ianzito, "It's a Job, But Is It Journalism?" Columbia Journalism Review, November/ December 1996

Steve Outing, "A Newspaper Editor's Transition to New Media," Editor & Publisher Interactive, 18 October 1996.

Job Link (online listing of jobs in journalism)

Peter Zollman, "New Media Hiring: Vet Offers Tips," Editor and Publisher, 21 March 1998

To learn more about this college editing textbook or to order an educational review copy, please visit
McGraw Hill.


Editing for the Web

Job Opportunities

As newspapers have continued to fold and newspaper readership has declined in recent years, those hoping for a job in print journalism have found their chances slimmer and slimmer.

But things are different on the Web. Online newspapers, magazines and other media offer a wide range of positions for those looking for employment. A Columbia Journalism Review article reported that a study in late 1996 estimated that more than 71,000 people were employed in new media jobs in New York City alone, with as many as 120,000 more jobs expected to be created by the end of 1998. With entry-level salaries typically ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 — better than salaries paid by print and broadcast media — online media are an attractive environment for young people.

Among the biggest beneficiaries of those new jobs are editors. If anything, editors are more important for the online editions of existing publications. In many cases, a couple of copy editors are hired or pulled off the news desk to "put up the Web edition." And you don't have to have decades of experience to land a job in online publishing; many Web publications are staffed almost totally by people in their 20s and early 30s, who can see things with a fresh eye.

If you've mastered basic copy editing skills, you're off to a good start in landing a job on an online publication. As Tom Cekay of the online edition of the Chicago Tribune told American Journalism Review:

The traditional role of the editor stays the same. Do readers want to see this? Is it intelligently done? Is it sophisticated reporting?
But, Cekay adds, online work places additional demands on the editor: knowing how to handle audio and video, and being able to edit much faster than in a print environment because of the demands of constant deadline pressure. Gil Asakawa, who moved from newspapers to Digital City's online guide for Denver, told Editor & Publisher Interactive: "My brain is very much into multi-tasking mode. I need to find some additional RAM chips for my head."

Such flexibility is crucial. John Conway, managing editor of WRAL-TV Online, told Editor and Publisher

You've got to have people who are adaptable, because of the nature of the Web. You need people who aren't afraid to pick up something very quickly, and then six months down the road learn something else new. To me, adaptability is the key

In her account of starting the online version of the Washington Post, Mindy McAdams adds that "a person's previous online experience is not trivial." She continues,

A smart person with good journalism experience can, of course, learn a lot about the online world in a fairly short period of time, but there are differences between a person who has "lived online" and someone who has not.

Because of the multimedia nature of their jobs, many editors hired for online publications are called producers. The nature of tasks handled by producers varies greatly from one operation to another, depending on staff size, features, etc. In addition to basic editing and headline writing, producers will be called upon to repurpose content from print editions, that is, take material that was printed and repackage it with supplemental material, hypertext links, and so on to make it more useful for the Web reader. For example, a travel magazine may run an article about visiting a certain city. An online version could include links to restaurants, shopping, museums and galleries, nightlife, a list of recommended accommodations and more.

Beyond that, virtually anything goes. A recent help-wanted posting sought eight producers, to handle a wide range of duties:

  • Two producers to help create online features for a Web broadcast project; the features are tied to television content produced by a station owned by the same company.

  • A third producer to work with huge databases of information, making editorial decisions how they could be turned into useful products, then design a user interfaces.

  • A fourth producer to help with Web chat programs, online community development or other interactive features to promote interaction between visitors to the site.

  • A fifth producer to serve as the lead editor for a series of local TV listing guides.

  • A sixth producer to help create syndicated online features.

  • Two "senior producers," one to supervise the two Web broadcast producers and help create online features for the operation's television stations, and the second to supervise producers working with database projects.

As you can see from those job descriptions, there's much more to editing for the Web than editing for print. Most of the producers find it much more rewarding, too. As Gil Asakawa told Editor & Publisher Interactive, "I love this industry." Chances are good that you will, too.

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