June 5, 2012

The difference between a rookie and a veteran

Q: What’s the difference between a veteran reporter and a rookie?
A: The veteran is used to being edited.

Now and then I hear complaints from rookies about how an editor changed their story or that their original version was nearly unrecognizable when it was published.

My advice: Instead of complaining, make yourself better so you don’t have to be edited.

I remember the first time I got published in the college newspaper.  A very reasonable editor changed a few things in my story and I got upset.  I had no reason to do so.

Later, as a veteran, I appreciated my editor making changes to my submissions. When I first covered city council for a newspaper, I would literally look over her shoulder as she edited my story, hearing her say things such as, “I’m just going to punch up this lead, check this out,” or “I’m gonna switch the order of these two ideas, watch.”

As the weeks and months went by she edited my stuff less and less.

I once heard Ken Wells, former Page One editor of The Wall Street Journal, say in a speech that everyone needs an editor.  He's absolutely right.

If you find that your stuff is getting edited heavily, instead of blaming the editor, work hard to make yourself better.  Find an editor who will work with you to improve.  Earlier exercises on this blog will also teach you how to improve.

1 comment:

  1. I remember when I first got really upset about an edit. LOL . . . I just found that article a couple days ago and was so thankful the edit was made!