What Does a Newspaper Editor Do?

newspaper-editor Credit: Brent Winebrenner/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

A newspaper editor proofreads content that writers submit, and approves the final layout of specific sections of the paper or the entire paper. The editor makes changes to existing newspaper stories and assigns stories to various writers. The editor takes responsibility for the editorial, or non-advertising, content within the newspaper.

Newspaper editors read each story prior to publishing it. The editors make changes themselves, send the stories back for rewriting, or publish the stories as is. There are often more stories than will fit in the newspapers, and the editors must decide which stories to eliminate entirely or postpone to a later edition. Newspaper editors must make personal decisions on which stories to include based upon sound professional judgment of audience receptivity, timing, relevance or other factors.

There exists a hierarchical system of editors. Editors range from copy editors, who perform the initial editing and often the layout design, up to the editor-in-chief. The editor-in-chief also must maintain budgets and hire and fire junior editors, writers, photographers and other essential creative staff. The final responsibility of the newspaper's successful readership depends upon the paper's editor-in-chief.

Many newspaper editors today balance print media duties with online news duties. As more newspaper content appears online, newspaper editors must approve content and hire bloggers and digital editors to maintain their papers' online presence.