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The Editorial Rooms

=4. Beginning Work
As stated in the preceding chapter, the place at
which the reporter presents himself for work the first day is the city
room. Before coming, he will have seen the city editor and received
instructions as to the time. If the office is that of a morning paper,
he will probably be required to come some time between noon and six P.M.
If it is that of an afternoon paper, he will be asked to report at six
or seven A.M. Let us suppose it is a metropolitan afternoon journal and
that he is requested to be in the office at seven, the hour when the
city editor appears. The ambitious reporter will always be in his place
not later than 6:45, so that he may see the city editor enter.

=5. Copy Readers
When a reporter appears on his first morning, he
will find a big, desk-crowded room, deserted except for two or three
silent workers reading and clipping papers at a long table. These men
are known variously as the gas-house gang, the lobster shift, the
morning stars, etc. They are the reporters and copy readers who read the
morning papers for stories that may be rewritten or followed up for
publication during the day. They have been on duty since two or three in
the morning and have prepared most of the material for the bull-dog
edition, the morning issue printed some time between 7:00 and 10:00 A.M.
and mainly rewritten from the morning papers. On the entrance of the new
reporter they will look up, direct him to a chair where he may sit until
the city editor comes, and pay no more attention to him. They, or others
who take their places, edit all the news stories. They correct spelling
and punctuation, rewrite a story when the reporter has missed the main
feature, reconstruct the lead, cut out contradictions, duplications, and
libelous statements, and in general make the article conform to the
length and style demanded by the paper; and having carefully revised the
story, they write the headlines and chute it to the composing room. On
the whole, these men are the most unpopular on the force, since they are
subject to double criticism, from the editors above them and the
reporters whose copy they correct. The city editor and the managing
editor hold them responsible for poor headlines, libelous statements,
involved sentences, and errors generally; the reporters blame them for
pruning down their stories, changing leads, and often destroying what
they regard as the very point of what they had to say.

=6. Other Reporters
As the new reporter waits by the city editor's
desk, he will notice the arrival of the other members of the staff, who
immediately begin their work for the day. One of these is the labor
reporter. His business is to obtain and write news relating to labor and
unions. Another is the marine reporter. He handles all news relating to
shipping, clearing and docking of vessels, etc. Another reporter handles
all stories coming from the police court. Another watches the morgue and
the hospitals. Another, usually a woman, obtains society news. Still
another visits the hotels. And so the division of reporters continues
until all the sources of news have been parceled out.

=7. The City Editor
Then the city editor enters. If the reporter
wishes to make good, let him love the law of the city editor. He is the
man to whom all the reporters and some of the copy readers are
responsible, and who in turn is responsible to the managing editor for
the gathering and preparation of city news. He must know where news can
be found, direct the getting of news, and see that it is put into the
paper properly. When news is abundant, he must decide which stories
shall be discarded, and on those rarer occasions when all the
world--the good and the bad--seems to have gone to sleep, he must know
how to make news. Every story written in the city room is first passed
on by the city editor, who turns it over to the copy readers for
correction. Even the length of each story is determined by him, and
often the nature of it, whether it shall be humorous, pathetic, tragic,
or mysterious. To his desires and idiosyncrasies the reporter must learn
quickly to adapt himself. Sometimes the city editor may err. Sometimes,
during his absence, he may put in authority eccentric substitutes,
smaller men who issue arbitrary commands and require stories entirely
different in style and character from what is regularly required. But
the cub's first lesson must be in adaptability, willingness to obey
orders and to accept news policies determined by those in authority. He
must therefore follow to the letter the wishes of the city editor (or
his assistants) and must always be loyal to him and his plans.[1]

[1] For an admirable exposition of the way in which the city
editor handles his men and big stories, the student is
advised to read two excellent articles by Alex. McD.
Stoddart: "When a Gaynor is Shot," Independent, August
25, 1910, and "Telling the Tale of the Titanic,"
Independent, May 2, 1912.

=8. The News Editor
As a reporter's acquaintance grows, he will come
to know other editors in the city room,--the news, telegraph, state,
market, sporting, literary, dramatic, and other editors. Of these the
news editor, sometimes known also as the make-up or the assistant
managing editor, is most important. He handles all the telegraph and
cable copy and much of what is sent in by mail. He decides what position
the stories shall take in the paper, which articles shall have big heads
and which little ones, which shall be thrown out, and in general
determines the make-up of the pages. The news editor is always a bright
man of wide knowledge, thoroughly conversant with state and national
social and political movements, and more or less intimately acquainted
with all sections of the United States.

=9. Telegraph Editor
Next to the news editor, and usually his chief
assistant, is the telegraph editor. On some papers the two positions are
combined. This man handles all telegraph copy from without the state,
including that of the press bureaus and special correspondents in
important American and European cities. Frequently in the largest news
offices there are as many as a dozen telegraph operators who take his
stories over direct wires. Like the news editor, he must be a man of
wide acquaintance in order to know the value of a story from a distant
section of the United States or the world. Since the outbreak of the
European war, his has been an unusually responsible position because of
the immense amount of war news and the necessity of knowing the exact
importance of the capture of a certain city or the fall of a fort.

=10. State Editor
Next comes the state editor, who is responsible for
all the state news and helps with the telegraph copy and local news when
it becomes too bulky for the other copy readers to handle. The state
editor manages the correspondents throughout the state and is
particularly valuable when his paper is in the capital city or the
metropolis of the state. Most of his copy comes by mail or long-distance
telephone from correspondents residing or traveling in the state. Nearly
all this copy needs editing, coming as it does largely from
correspondents on country dailies and weeklies. In addition to editing
stories sent in by correspondents, the state editor keeps a space book,
from which he makes to the cashier in the business office a weekly or
monthly report of the amount of material contributed by each

=11. Sporting Editor
Unless given a place in the sporting department,
the reporter will not soon meet the sporting editor, who, with his
assistants, is usually honored with a room to himself and is independent
of the city editor. But some day, by accident perhaps, the cub will get
a peep through a door across the hallway into a veritable den. That is
the sporting room. The four walls are covered with cuts of Willard,
Gotch, Johnston, Matthewson, Travers, Hoppe, and dozens of other
celebrities in the realm of sports. There the sporting editor--often a
man who has been prominent in college athletics--reigns. Because of the
intense interest in sports he must publish the news of his department
promptly, and in consequence he often is privileged to make expenditures
more freely than other editors. The sporting editor of a big daily must
be an authority in athletic matters and should be able to decide on the
instant, without looking up the book of regulations, any question
relating to athletic rules or records.

=12. Exchange Editor
Another editor, who usually will be discovered
in a room by himself, is the exchange editor. He will be found all but
buried in piles of exchanges, now and then clipping a story not covered
on the wires, an editorial, a criticism of his own paper, or a comment
of any kind that may be worth copying or following up. He must know
thoroughly the bias of his paper, to know what to clip and publish.
Favorable references to his paper he reprints. Criticisms he refers to
the managing editor, who reads them and throws them into the waste
basket, or else keeps them for a reply in a later issue. Most of the
jokes, anecdotes of famous men and women, stories of minor inventions
and discoveries, and timely articles relating to current events,
fashions, beliefs, etc., published on the editorial page and in the
feature sections of the Sunday issue, are the result of the exchange
editor's long hours of patient reading of newspapers mailed from every
section of the United States.

=13. The Morgue
One of the chief duties of many exchange editors is
to supply the morgue with material for its files. The morgue, sometimes
called the library, is an important adjunct of every newspaper office.
In it are kept, perhaps ready for printing, obituaries of well-known
men, stories of their rise to prominence, pictures of them and their
families, accounts of great discoveries, inventions, and disasters, and
facts on every conceivable newspaper topic,--all ready for hasty
reference or use. If the President of the United States were to drop
dead from apoplexy, the papers would have on the streets in a quarter of
an hour's time columns of stories giving his whole career. When the
steamer Eastland turned over in the Chicago River, causing the death
of 900 persons, the papers published in their regular editions boxed
summaries of all previous ship disasters. When Willard knocked out
Johnson at Havana, reviews of Willard's and Johnson's ring careers were
printed in numerous dailies. All such stories are procured from the
morgue, from files supplied mainly by the exchange editor. In some of
the larger offices, however, these files are maintained independently of
the exchange editor, and are under the charge of the librarian and a
staff of assistants who keep catalogued lists of all maps, cuts,
photographs, and clippings. On a moment's notice these may be obtained
for use in the paper.

=14. Other Editors
Other editors, who may be passed with brief
mention because of their minor importance in this volume, are the
market, dramatic, literary, and society editors, and the editorial
writers. The market editor handles all matters of a financial nature.
Sometimes on the largest dailies there are both a market and a financial
editor, but usually the work is combined under a single man whose duties
are to keep in close touch with markets, banks, manufactories, and large
mercantile companies, and to write up simply and accurately from day to
day the financial condition of the city and the country. The duty of the
literary editor is often little more than book reviewing. Frequently he
does not have an office in the building, and on small papers his only
remuneration is the gift of the book he reviews. The society editor, in
addition to reporting notes of the social world, generally handles
fashion stories, answers letters regarding etiquette, love, and
marriage, and edits all material for the woman's page. The work of the
editorial writers is explained by their name. They quit work at all
sorts of hours, take two hours off for lunch, and are known in the city
room as "highbrows." But many an editorial writer who comes to work at
nine in the morning has worked very late the night before, searching for
facts utilized in a half-column of editorial matter.

=15. Cartoonists and Photographers
The business of the cartoonist is
to draw one cartoon a day upon some timely civic or political subject.
He is responsible to the managing editor. Under him are other
cartoonists who illustrate individual stories or do cartoon work for
special departments of the paper. The sporting editor has one such man,
and the city editor has one or two. Finally, there are the
photographers, subject to the city editor, who rush hither and thither
to all parts of the city and state, taking scenes valuable for cuts.

=16. The Managing Editor
The men whose work we have been discussing
thus far are those whom the reporter meets in his daily work. Above all
these is an executive officer whom the cub reporter rarely sees,--the
managing editor, who has general supervision over all the news and
editorial departments of the paper. He does little writing or editing
himself, his time being taken up with administrative duties. All unusual
expenditures are submitted for his approval. The size and make-up of the
paper, which varies greatly from day to day on the large dailies, is a
matter for his final decision. The cartoonist submits to him rough
drafts of contemplated drawings. The city, telegraph, and news editors
confer with him about getting important stories. The Sunday editor
consults with him with regard to special features. To him is submitted a
proof of every story, which he reads for possible libel and for general
effectiveness. Now and then he returns a story to the city editor to be
lengthened or to be pruned down. Occasionally he may kill an article.
Always he is working at top speed, from the time he gets to his office
at 8:00 A.M., or 2:00 P.M., until he sits down to compare his paper with
the first edition of rival publications. For the managing editor
scrutinizes with minute care every daily in the city, and when he finds
anything to his paper's discredit, he begins an immediate investigation
to learn how the slip happened and who was responsible.

=17. Editor-in-Chief
Above the managing editor is the
editor-in-chief, often the owner of the paper. Of him the sub-editors
say that his chief business is playing golf and smoking fat cigars. As a
matter of fact, his duties are at once the most and the least exacting
of any on the paper. He is either the owner or the personal
representative of the owner, who looks to him for the execution of his
policies. But since such policies necessarily must be subject to the
most liberal interpretation, the final responsibility of the editorial
rooms falls on the shoulders of the editor-in-chief. To make known the
plans of the paper, the editor-in-chief holds with the editorial
writers, the managing editor, and the city editor weekly, sometimes
daily, meetings, at which are discussed all matters of doubt or
dissatisfaction relating to the editorial rooms.

=18. Conclusion
In conclusion, then, we have the editor-in-chief, who
is responsible for the general policies of the paper. Immediately
beneath him is the managing editor, who executes the editor-in-chief's
orders. Responsible to the editor-in-chief or the managing editor are
the editorial writers, the news, city, sporting, exchange, literary, and
dramatic editors, and the cartoonist. Beneath the city editor are a few
of the copy readers and all the reporters. Such is the organization of
the editorial staff of a typical metropolitan newspaper.

Next: The Mechanical Department

Previous: Organization Of The Paper

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