Assignment Editor: Job Description, Salary and Outlook

Sep 28, 2019

Assignment editors require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and career outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

An assignment editor typically has a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, journalism, or communication. Completing an internship or job experience is often beneficial as well. This is a highly competitive field with an expected decrease in the number of jobs from 2018-2028, which means that gaining practical experience is critical.

Essential Information

An assignment editor is a member of the newsroom staff at a newspaper, radio or television station whose job duties include deciding which reporter will cover a given story. In addition to generating story ideas and delegating coverage, assignment editors may write and edit news stories or update the news outlet's social media and website. The field is competitive and often requires relocation for career advancement.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Required Skills Writing/communication skills; competitive personality; ability to relocate
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -3%
Median Salary (2018)* $59,480

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for Assignment Editors

Qualified candidates for assignment editor positions usually have internship or job experience and a 4-year degree in broadcasting, journalism or communications as indicated by recent job postings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests prospective editors may gain experience at college newspapers or broadcast stations, through internships or in entry-level positions at smaller publications or television and radio stations.

Job Description of an Assignment Editor

Assignment editors distribute news coverage assignments to reporters and writers in broadcast and print journalism outlets, such as television and radio stations, newspapers and integrated newsrooms serving multiple media outlets. Newsrooms are fast-paced, collaborative work environments, and assignment editors are essential in coordinating reporters and photographers to cover breaking news and meet production deadlines.

Assignment editors assist their news team in coming up with story ideas and gathering information. Based on their news judgment and the preferences of viewers, listeners or readers in their market, assignment editors search for news by listening to police scanners, accessing news wire services and using social media websites. They also develop and maintain contacts with law enforcement and fire departments, local government and community organizations to stay updated on current events.

Once they have leads on stories, assignment editors are able to delegate story assignments to journalists, photographers and crews, which may require sending them on location to shoot video or conduct interviews. Editors must coordinate the coverage of multiple stories at once and monitor the progress of news teams. Assignment editors at newspapers may also need to write, edit, fact check, copy and assist with the layout and design of the publication. At broadcast news outlets, additional job functions of an assignment editor may include shooting and editing video. Increasingly, news outlets rely on and utilize Web technology and social media to disseminate news, requiring assignment editors to help update websites.

Assignment Editor Salary

The BLS reported that as of May 2018, mean annual wages for all editors were $69,480. For editors of newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers, the BLS reported average wages of $65,890 per year. The BLS also noted that those working in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing companies earned the highest salary of $101,210, in May 2018.

Career Outlook for an Assignment Editor

According to the BLS, broadcast news assignment editors often advance by relocating to stations with a larger market share, with the largest metropolitan markets requiring extensive experience. As such, employers provide little on-the-job training for new hires. The BLS reports a decline in jobs for editors between 2018 and 2028. This was attributed to factors like the use of online publications and a reduced need for editors working for print newspapers and magazines. As such, competition is likely to be fierce for assignment editors at newspapers and broadcast stations, especially those with high circulation numbers or a large market share.

Assignment editors may work for a newspaper, or at a radio or TV station. They assign staff to cover specific stories. They may also generate story ideas, write and edit copy, and be responsible for updating their outlet's social media and website.

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