Editor’s column: Managing a newspaper is unique and often misunderstood

The inner workings of newspapers, especially small community newspapers, are a mystery to many people.

For example, some residents are confused about the differences between publishers and publishers.

For the record, I was editor-in-chief of Whidbey News-Times, the South Whidbey Record and Whidbey crosswind for many years. I assign articles and discuss them with reporters, edit articles, decide where the articles go on each page of the newspaper, process letters to the editor and write editorials. I hire and train reporters.

As we have a small team, I also write reports. Readers may have noticed that I have a predilection for courts and crime stories, as well as strange occurrences. Tell me about haunted chicken coops, UFOs or naked hitchhikers.

An editor is not involved in news gathering, editing, or newsroom management. The publisher is the first director of the newspaper. He or she is responsible for budgets, personnel and the overall success of the newspaper. The publisher is the spokesperson and the public face of the company.

Our new editor, RJ Benner, has a solid background in marketing, but is also a strong and energetic advocate for newspapers and journalism. He has a voice in editorials and also writes an occasional column and restaurant review, as well as stories for special sections. But that’s the extent of his direct involvement in the newsroom.

Newspapers, and the media in general, are counterintuitive as business models in some ways. Stories are not for sale. There is a clear line that separates the editorial and advertising sides of the business. Editors and journalists are not involved in the advertisements. Advertising does not affect the stories we write or the way we write them.

By the way, editorials are different from columns, although they are both opinion pieces. Editorials represent the perspective of the newspaper as a whole – informed by our reporting – while columns like this have signatures or named authors and represent that individual’s views. We publish many “Sound Off” columns by community leaders who do not necessarily represent the point of view of the newspaper.

Letters to the Editor also cause occasional consternation among our readers. People seem to think that we are choosing letters to represent a certain point of view, but the truth is that we handle almost all the letters we receive except those from Nigerian princes who have millions of dollars to give.

In fact, we could use a lot more letters from a wider range of residents.

The publishers may be independent, but we are not above begging. Please I urge residents to get their opinions on local issues and send more letters to [email protected]

After all, one thing editors and editors share is the desire and need to hear from the community.


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