Wondering what the editors of the future will do and how they’ll do it? Kevin Nguyen, writing in The Bygone Bureau, asked the editors of three Web publications how they work. The answers are a blend of technological savvy and old-fashioned red-penciling (although the red pencil is now more likely to be a strikethrough in Google Docs).
At The Morning News, an Internet institution, “we hear from writers that we edit harder and with more concern for their stories than more established venues,” founding editor Rosecrans Baldwin told Nguyen. One of the three principal editors working for TMN “takes ownership” of a piece and works with the author from start to finish, usually over e-mail, but sometimes over the phone, IM, or Twitter. The staff does videoconferences and uses Backpack, a project management tool.
At McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the humor editor hand-codes every piece of HTML and can’t schedule content to go up at a future date (ouch!), and he works with writers via e-mail.
You’d expect The Awl, an Internet baby compared to the venerable Morning News and McSweeney’s, to be more fast-and-loose, Nguyen writes, but “we have a pretty conventional process,” Choire Sicha told him. “Although to be fair to ‘conventional,’ I did just technically edit a piece over IM.”
Sicha and Alex Balk, the other editor of The Awl, don’t work out of the same office, so they communicate via IM and email and Campfire. They edit pieces over e-mail or IM, but never the telephone, which Sicha calls “the single worst thing in the world.”
Modern editors: isolated and lonely (maybe?), but just as vicious with that red pen.