editorial staff

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Photo editing of “Die Welt” 2012
Image selection
Layout control before printing

Editing (from Latin redigere "bringing back / driving, bringing into a state") describes the entirety of the editors of a media company , their office , and their activity, the editing . An editorial team has the task of bringing information into a version that is suitable for publication . The editorial department is the department in a newspaper or magazine publisher that does the journalistic work. It can be composed of several specialized sub-departments (departments). Then the conference of editors is also called “the editorial team”.

The term editing is also used for the actual (possibly multi-stage) process of creating articles.

In the industry jargon of advertising agencies and advertising magazines, the term editorial office - in contrast to the usage described above - also describes editorial texts: "write an editorial office" (as opposed to "write a PR") or "this editorial office will appear in the next issue" .

Development of an editorial office

An editorial office is usually headed by an editor-in-chief and is divided into thematic sections. For newspapers in the five classic sections of politics, business, sport, features / culture and local news as well as other sections such as service, media or travel sections. A department works on a specific subject area and rubrics for which it is responsible and independent of the other departments. Often, the individual subject areas are divided among the editors within a department, depending on the qualifications and knowledge of the editors. In the culture section, which is also known as the feature section, one editor, for example, works on book reviews , another writes about exhibitions, and the third writes about new films. Another possibility for the division is the division according to journalistic forms of presentation, text forms. One editor specializes in comments, another more in background reports or reports.

In many editorial offices, a Duty Chief (CvD) is responsible for coordinating printing, the advertising department, schedules and weekend work. It represents the interface between the editorial department and production.

Editors, generalists, freelance journalists and volunteers , and sometimes external experts, write in or for an editorial team.

Flat-rate lists provide the editors with constant contributions on a specific topic or topic for a monthly flat rate. Freelance journalists work for a line fee. In addition, an editorial team works with correspondents. These are usually responsible for a specific area or country and form the link to the editorial team. Correspondents often work with several editorial offices at the same time.

Workflow in an editorial office

Editorial conferences are convened regularly, daily in the case of daily newspapers , so that the individual departments coordinate and thus do not overlap the topics. In addition, the focus and the scope of the next edition are determined here. Often the so-called "leaf review" takes place, in which the issue of the previous day is discussed. Spelling errors as well as content deficiencies or unfavorable layout are discussed here. The CvD also participates in the determination for the next issue and notes all of this in a side mirror, which today is mostly created digitally. The choice of images is often made in a separate image conference with the image editors, graphic designers, department heads and the editor-in-chief .

Today the departmental boundaries are noticeably dissolving. Modern editorial management works across departments. At the center of the modern newsroom is the shared news desk , where the news comes together. Some editorial offices are now implementing the first online principle . Some of the contributions will be published online in advance.

The editor evaluates and selects appropriate news. He checks articles submitted by freelance journalists for factual accuracy, corrects style, spelling and grammatical errors, shortens or elongates them and brings them into the usual format for the medium concerned. Editors are responsible for researching and writing the editorial content of a medium. They also edit freelance articles.

In smaller editorial offices, the editor chooses the pictures and lead stories himself. Larger magazines or daily newspapers often have their own picture editing team that selects photos for the articles from databases or orders them from freelance photographers.

The daily routine for daily newspapers: First, the current events and the associated material are sorted, then discussed and selected at the editorial conference. Now further research, writing or editing of third-party contributions, mostly from news agencies, freelancers or correspondents, begins. The finished articles are entered into the editorial system .

Before articles go to print, they go through the proofreading if possible , but in any case the final editing. There the responsible editor checks it again for errors and stylistic deficiencies, corrects errors or returns the article to the editor .

Shortly before the imprimatur, the final editorial team checks the layout of the pages and the articles, the page numbers and then whether the articles are all in the correct categories and all texts have been approved. There is often time pressure in an editorial office, especially with daily newspapers, because the content and layout have to be in place by the printing deadline so that delivery is not delayed. The editorial deadline indicates the point in time from which the finished publication is prepared for printing and no subsequent changes are possible.

In the past there were almost exclusively full editorial teams who wrote and created all the articles for their publications themselves. Today the trend, especially with local and regional newspapers, is moving to blank editorial offices for cost reasons .

In German editorial offices, an editor takes care of all activities from research to the ready-to-print article, in the USA and Great Britain a distinction is made between a "reporter" and an "editor". One of them researches and writes, the other layouts, reformulates, edits and takes care of meeting deadlines.

The work processes in an editorial office are the subject of international comparative journalism research . A study by Frank Esser compared z. B. 1998 the working methods in the editorial offices in England and Germany .

Protection against tendencies and internal freedom of the press

Protection against tendencies is understood to mean the right of the owner or the publisher of a medium (e.g. a newspaper ),

  • determine the general political, economic and cultural orientation of the press organ (right to issue instructions),
  • Editors in employment contracts to specify and
  • to dismiss the editor-in-chief in the event of differences of opinion .

Protection against tendencies harbors some problems, as Paul Sethe reports in “The Month” (1965) and “ DIE WELT ” (1995): There it says, among other things, “Freedom of the press is the freedom of two hundred rich people to express their opinions, journalists who They always share this opinion. [...] Whoever is rich is free. ”In order to regulate the competencies among each other and to define content and procedural standards, editorial statutes have been agreed in many editorial offices .

The independence of an editorial office from its own publisher is described as internal freedom of the press. This means in particular that an editorial office must be able to invoke an editorial statute even if a publication runs counter to the possible interests of the publisher.

Online editorial offices

Since the mid-1990s, the online editorial team has been set up alongside the classic editorial teams . Many editorial offices now work cross-media . Every national newspaper and probably all regional newspapers have an internet portal. Either the articles in the current issue are edited for this purpose or there is a separate online editorial team that writes articles / articles exclusively for the Internet portal.

The website has to be constantly updated, articles have to be adapted, the latest news and events have to be continuously posted. In online journalism , texts must be linked. Relatively short texts are considered 'standard'. Online editors must have more computer and internet skills than classic editors.

The Spiegel Online editorial team on September 11, 2001 offered an example of this way of working .

Special tasks

Larger houses divide editorial departments into topics (e.g. parliamentary editing) and functions (e.g. text editing, picture editing, appointment editing, etc.).


Web links

Wikiquote: Editing  - Quotes
Wiktionary: Editing  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Florian Meißner: Cultures of disaster reporting 1st edition. Springer VS, p. 26
  2. Frank Esser: The forces behind the headlines. English and German journalism in comparison. Karl Alber, 1998, p. 446ff.
  3. Article about the publication of the articles on September 11, 2001 by Spiegel Online : In the Spiegel Online newsroom. How the catastrophe became news. In: Spiegel Online from August 29, 2002.
  4. ^ Website with more information on La Roche's Introduction to Practical Journalism