Define: Managing Editor

At the career fair this week, I found myself explaining my job to recruiters, which is like summarizing this blog into a few sentences under a lot of pressure.

After a short line about how much I hate doing payroll, I explain my job as managing editor in two parts: first as the managing half, then as the editor half.

Putting on my managing hat, I say that we owe the journalism students at UF whatever experiences they can’t get out of the journalism school. With people like Pat Thornton, a new media advocate, painting j-schools as obsolete — whether or not that’s true — we have a chance to help supplement UF undergraduates’ journalism education. We shouldn’t take that responsibility lightly. The Alligator needs to fully use its online and print departments to give students firsthand experience they won’t get in class.

As editor, I say we owe the UF community information. After all, that’s the Alligator’s tagline: “We inform. You decide.” I used the recent Student Government elections as an example of how we do that at the Alligator and why it matters. I was part of an organization that pushed more than 10,000 students toward the polls for a Student Government election. As an editor, I have an impact on daily events and on how the people who read our paper respond to the news around them. I can’t take that responsibility lightly, either.

Hopefully, that explanation was good enough for the recruiters.

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2 Comments

Filed under Editing, Managing

2 responses to “Define: Managing Editor

  1. In many ways, working for a student publication can teach students more than classes can.

    What if journalism education focused on the basics like reporting, writing, editing, research skills, law and ethics, while student publications were the place to learn specific tools like Photoshop or video editing? When we talk about blogging, video, Twitter and most new media journalism, we’re talking about mediums, not journalism itself.

    I don’t think teaching video editing or blogging really fits into the university model. It’s not an academic area. The core courses of journalism that I have outlined above are academics areas.

    So, why not require all undergraduates to work for student publications? Why not offer hands on training seminars? Why not require every student to have a subscription to Lynda.com?

    I think students do need to know about new media, but I don’t think the classroom is the best place to teach that. A student publication is a great place to learn, and it’s a much more real-world approach than the classroom setting.

    Plus, if professors have to teach students about social networking, we’re in trouble. It should be the other way around. If students don’t know about Twitter, Facebook (seriously?), WordPress.com or other social platforms, they can learn in their own time.

    Perhaps the biggest problem with journalism education right now is that it tries to be too much. Maybe we need to simplify things, get back to the basics that have a more academic approach and have students learn specific skills in another, more hands-on venue.

  2. Hilary Lehman

    In places where there’s a student paper associated with the university, I think that’s a feasible method. At UF, it’s just the de facto one.

    And I always worry when journalism students don’t have Facebook — I don’t understand how a journalist can really be tuned into the college community without it.

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