Magazine Editor  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotThe main thing an editor does is decide what goes in the magazine they work for. They can also delegate stories to writers, write stories themselves, proofread other stories, lay out the page and perform a wide variety of other tasks.

Different magazines may have other staff members handle some of these tasks.

Mainly, it comes down to a love of writing.

"I like that I get to be immersed in writing, that I get to deal with words all day long," says Nina Pearlman, executive editor of a New York-based music magazine.

"I like the chance to work with other writers on their own writing -- it's like getting to be a teacher, except I don't have to stand in front of a classroom, and can work one-on-one with the writers."

dotThere are also different levels of editors at most magazines. While some weekly publications may have different editors for the arts and news sections, monthly magazines could have a different editor to handle the review sections for movies or music. The main editor usually oversees all the content that these individual editors are responsible for.

dotEvery day can bring new surprises to a magazine editor. While there is a set structure to the schedule of the publication, anything can happen when you are responsible for what people are reading in your magazine. Anything from angry phone calls to more pleasant thank-you letters are par for the course. And because it's usually a job with semi-regular office hours, people know where to find you never know who may pop in!

dotPeople interested in becoming an editor should be outgoing, have enough stamina to make it through the crazy days, be able to write, be very organized and perhaps have sales experience. They must also be detail-oriented and able to work with deadlines.

At a Glance

Decide what goes in a magazine

  • You should enjoy writing and editing
  • You must be able to handle a hectic workday
  • A journalism degree is useful but not essential