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Become a News Editor: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a news editor. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in news editing. View article »

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  • 0:00 Do I Want to Be a News Editor?
  • 0:38 Job Requirements
  • 1:36 Steps to Become a News Editor

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Video Transcript

Do I Want to Be a News Editor?

News editors determine which stories will be reported and ensure that they are factually and grammatically correct. They might plan content for newspapers, websites and magazines, and they guide writers on story development and tone. News editors generally start their careers in entry-level positions, and competition for advancement into upper-level jobs is typically strong. Once they become news editors, however, individuals often have more control over what appears in a publication. The job also comes with stress under deadlines and long or irregular work hours.

Job Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Journalism, communication, or English; other backgrounds with strong writing skills and experience
Experience 1-5 years of writing and editing experience
Key Skills Creativity; strong eye for detail; excellent communication and interpersonal skills; ability to make decisions under pressure
Computer Skills Experience in web and graphic design software, digital publishing applications, and multimedia production software
Technical Skills Experience with telecommunication equipment can be helpful since editors may work remotely
Additional Requirements The ability to cope with stress and fatigue; working long hours; meeting tight deadlines
Salary $39,684 (2016 median for newspaper editors)

News editors generally hold a bachelor's degree in journalism, English or communications. News editors may come from other backgrounds provided they have strong writing skills and experience. Specifically, 1-5 years of writing and editing experience is needed. News editors should possess creativity, a keen eye for detail, excellent communication skills, the ability to make decisions under pressure and strong interpersonal skills. The ability to cope with stress and fatigue is necessary for working long hours to meet tight deadlines. Experience in Web and graphic design software, digital publishing applications and multimedia production software is also needed. Additionally, experience with telecommunication equipment can be helpful, since editors may work remotely. According to 2016 earnings data gathered by Payscale.com, newspaper editors earned a median annual salary of $39,684.

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Steps to Become a News Editor

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Aspiring news editors generally need to gain formal education from a college or university. According to the BLS, the minimum educational requirement for news editors is a bachelor's degree. The most relevant majors for prospective editors are communications, journalism and English. Each of these programs gives potential news editors experience in writing, copy editing, grammar and fact-checking. Students in these programs may take courses in multimedia reporting, journalism ethics, opinion writing, media law, digital journalism, publication design and feature writing.

In addition to taking as many relevant classes as possible, potential editors should be active in their schools' periodicals. Many colleges and universities have campus newspapers or magazines that give students hands-on writing and editorial experience.

Internships that offer potential editors experience working in fast-paced, professional environments are available. Such internships can provide a potential editor with relevant and valuable experience as well as industry contacts. Interns work in many settings, including publishing houses, news stations, magazine companies or newspaper companies. The duties of an intern will vary depending on the setting but will mainly include copy editing, researching and writing.

Additionally, some schools offer exchange or study-abroad programs for students enrolled in journalism programs. Completing journalism studies in another country can help to hone communication skills and cultural understanding. Students may also use their time abroad to learn about travel journalism.

Step 2: Gain Writing Experience and Advance in the Field

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that news editors typically need up to five years of experience in the field to secure employment. While experience gained during internships and while working on college newspapers may be sufficient, many editors get their start as writers and reporters. News editors may also gain experience by working at advertising firms and publishing companies. Editors may start out in small markets and, as they gain experience and skill, advance to larger markets and publications with greater status.

Since more publications are offering online content to readers, skill in online publishing and Web design have become increasingly important for news editors. Editors should concentrate on building their skill set in this area and gaining practical experience with multimedia software. An editor might, for example, demonstrate such proficiency by creating and maintaining his or her own website or blog.

News editors need a bachelor's degree in a field such as journalism, English or communications, and several years' experience writing and editing is required.

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