A person who handles the overall editing responsibilities in any mass media (print, Internet, television, etc.) is called an editor in chief. Editing is like quality control, where a check is made on the content (authenticity and relevancy to the topic), language (grammar and content flow) and aesthetics (photos, images, sound, audio and video) of the articles or documents appearing on the specified medium. An editor in chief is required to change, modify, paraphrase or condense the content in order to enhance its quality and approve or reject the piece based on preset grounds. The job description also involves relationship building and communication with the author. The editor in chief is required to use his creative skills and human resource skills to handle two contradicting jobs - maintain a cordial relationship with the author whose article he is expected to tinker around with. The job description varies slightly depending on the type of editing, for example, whether it is technical editing, business editing, etc. The pay packages also vary accordingly.
Responsibilities and Duties
The general responsibilities of an editor in chief are listed below. These are the ones that make this job such a highly paid one. Try them, they are not as light and easy as they look. It is especially bad when you are improving someone else's work, when you could be opening the same effort doing your own (and of course getting the author credits for it).
- Cross checking the facts, spellings, grammar, writing style, design pages, photos etc. is the final responsibility of an editor in chief. The article that comes to him for approval is generally one that has already gone through initial editing processes, but still, should something be wrong with it, the final accountability being that of an editor in chief, he is also required to go through it again.
- It is the responsibility of the editor in chief to reject a piece of writing that appears to be plagiarized or ghost written by another sub-editor. He should check that a particular piece is neither self-plagiarized, nor has been published before elsewhere.
- He is required to make light as well as heavy edits to the content in question. Light edits involve light editing work, i.e., work that does not require making substantial theme changes, structure changes and writing style changes. When all of these require some heavy attention, the editing is called heavy editing.
- He may be required to contribute editorial pieces in the publication industry. He is also responsible for all the content that is approved for publishing and is often accountable for it, if he is working for any of the types of print media. The publication's standards of performance depend heavily on its editor in chief.
- He is required to motivate and develop the staff under him on an occasional basis. Whatever is written in the article should be up to the mark, readable, and matching to the mission and scope of the institution. He also sets various guidelines and policies for his/her subordinates. Often, the responsibilities are seen to expand to the operational and strategic planning of the organization as well.
- It is necessary for him to conduct team meetings on a regular basis, which will keep the team members updated. Assigning responsibilities to all team members and ensuring that they are completed on time is one of the major responsibilities.
- If it is a magazine we are looking at, it is the editor in chief's responsibility to see that the issue is full of content and no area is left empty. They are also required to handle reader's complaints and explain and account for them.
- An editor in chief of a book or journal oversees all the stages of the book, from the manuscript form, all to the published book stage. He performs all the aforementioned editing tasks on the entire book.
- It is his responsibility to cross-check all citations and examine all the references provided in the content. In case of journals, it's the editor in chief who sets and tries to implement the ethical standards.
- A technical editor in chief has the added responsibility to check the technical soundness and technical quality of the content. For this, he is required to have the technical skills in the related field or product. For technical editing, he should know how to use tools such as Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) and DocBooks.
- He requires skills of proofreading, copy editing, developmental editing, line editing and editing for search engine optimization.