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Magazine Editor Profile

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The Job of a Magazine Editor

When you flip through the first pages of a magazine, before you hit the table of contents (or “toc” in industry parlance), you’ll come across the masthead. This list of names and titles includes, among others, the editors who put that publication together. And, while much of a magazine editor’s job, like a book editor’s job, deals with editing stories, magazine stories are quite different than books.

One of the biggest differences between what a magazine editor does and what a book editor does has to do with the type of content they’re working with. Magazines come out, usually, on a weekly or monthly basis, so editors at magazines work on more stories in a shorter period of time. Magazine editors are also more involved in coming up with story ideas and shaping specific sections of their magazine. They are not, as book editors are, sifting through material looking for good things to publish.

Finding Magazine Stories

Magazine stories usually come about in one of three ways: A writer comes to an editor with an idea (or “pitches” him), an editor approaches a writer with an idea, or the idea is born in an editorial meeting. Editorial meetings are essentially brainstorming sessions that most editorial staffs hold. During these meetings ideas are batted around and, often, group discussions will help flesh out and focus general ideas.

What Defines a Magazine Story

Although there is a lot of overlap between stories that run in newspapers and magazines, the big difference between magazine content and newspaper content is the time devoted to them. For the most part, newspapers work on daily deadlines and therefore newspaper stories are more driven by things developing moment-to-moment and day-to-day. If there’s a major fire in, say, Atlanta, that city’s daily newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, is going to run stories covering the blaze the day it’s happening. The regional magazine for the area however, Atlanta Magazine, might run something about the effects of the fire, a longer piece, months after the blaze was put out. (Assuming the city is affected in a significant way.)

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