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What Does a Magazine Editor do?

Editors direct the content of a magazine by giving assignments to writers, photographers, and artists.
Magazines.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 June 2014
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A magazine editor oversees the completion of each issue of the publication so that it fits in with the magazine's editorial vision. The higher up the editor's position, the more say he or she has in selecting and developing the magazine's voice and focus. The types and number of editors that work for a magazine vary depending on the kind and size of the publication. Generally, there are contributing, associate, and managing editors, as well as an editor-in-chief, who must all work toward the same goal of creating quality issues of the magazine.

Larger magazines are especially likely to have an editor-in-chief who is the most senior of editors. He or she has the deciding say in what the readers of the magazine will read about in each issue. An editor-in-chief may work for different magazines owned by one publisher and may spend a lot of time in different locations.

Many magazines have a page near the front of the magazine that is written by the editor-in-chief. This page usually gives an overview of what is contained in the issue as well as the inspirations or trends that inspired the issue's content. The person doesn't usually do any actual writing for the magazine beyond the editorial page, however. Much of his or her work time is spent developing ideas for the magazine to delegate to a managing editor.

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A managing editor reports to the editor-in-chief and plans story ideas based on the top editor's vision for each issue. At smaller magazines, the managing editor may serve as the editor-in-chief. Managing editors lead the production of the magazine and supervise other editors. They often do some writing for each issue as well as tasks such as researching and interviewing. Managing editors delegate many tasks to staff such as writers, art directors, and associate editors.

Recent college graduates may be hired by magazines as associate editors. These entry-level magazine editors report to supervising or managing editors. They are responsible for carrying out many of the details of preparing magazine issues for publication. This employee's main duties may include fact-checking, minor editing, and suggesting article ideas. Associate editors may also help find writers as well as write short pieces for the magazine.

A contributing magazine editor may be a freelance writer who is really more responsible for writing articles than editing them. At smaller magazines, contributing editors may be staff writers who have some editing responsibilities. An editor at large is another term for a contributing editor.

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anon334618
Post 7

@Surf'n'turf: I think the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" was loosely based on Anna Wintour, rather than the other way around. I can't see that a successful editor would base her life on a movie that came out when she was already at the top of her game!

I am an editor, and frequently find myself wearing lots of hats - commissioning, writing, subbing, proofing, trouble shooting, photo shoots, style shopping, PR, marketing, ad sales, managing production, workflow - the list is endless.

anon331010
Post 6

I'm an associate editor and I also write articles for my magazine. So I guess I'm technically a reporter as well, but my title given to me was associate editor.

subway11
Post 4

SurfNturf - I saw that movie and it was stressful to watch. I think that it would be difficult to work for someone like that.

I know that the O Magazine editor is Gayle King which is Oprah’s best friend. I think that it would be so fun to come up with topic ideas for a magazine especially one as entertaining as O Magazine.

I really love the inspirational stories on weight loss. I also like the budgeting and finance articles that help you save money. I really enjoy the magazine it offers a fresh perspective on women's everyday problems which is something that Oprah is a master at.

surfNturf
Post 3

Anon145819 - I agree I did not know that the field was so wide.

I just wanted to say that the most famous magazine editors are Helen Gurley Brown from Cosmopolitan and Anna Wintour from Vogue. Helen Gurley Brown was the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan and recently died age 93.

Anna Wintour life was loosely based on the movie, “The Devil Wears Prada.” Her role was played by Merrill Streep and the book which is based on the movie was actually written by her assistant. She worked at House and Garden and New York magazine before she moved on to British Vogue.

She later took over Vogue magazine in New York.

anon145819
Post 1

I didn't know there were so many different types of editors! That's awesome, thanks! You learn something new every day!

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