Thursday, 19 June 2008

What will editors be in the digital age?

I have been asked to second-interview candidates for an editor's job today. Nothing unusual in that. I've edited three B2B papers and magazines over 14 years so there is some useful experience there! What makes this different is that the job is editor not of a magazine with a website attached but rather the editor of the website with quite separate editors for the associated magazines. A first for this company.
How do I see an editor's job like this developing? Well there is the usual role for an editor of being the identity of the brand, knowing the industry you are covering, having the contacts to break great stories and sometimes being hauled in to meet the advertisers. All very traditional there. But it is there that the similarity ends. Just take some of the practical differences which we know the web makes of editors such as daily if not hourly news meetings. 
But it is the sheer power of the editor's profile online that makes the potential so exciting. The editor of a stand-alone website has the potential to play the role of a or the most high-profile blogger in that industry while also enjoying all the added benefits of an often historic brand and the resources of other journalists. Few famous bloggers can boast of that.
Of course there is already a respected journalist who has taken the exclusively online path. John Byrne earned his reputation on US magazine Business Week. Recently he was made executive editor of businessweek.com. Read what he had to say about how challenging but rewarding the step has been.