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What does an Editor do?

Editors review, rewrite and edit written material for publication in newspapers, magazines and books. They draft and implement editorial policy, and manage the production of publications and the staff involved, depending on the position they hold. Editors are responsible for deciding on the content of publications or news items according to what they think will appeal to readers. They also come up with story ideas and do original writing. Editors often work with a wide range of people, including writers, publishers, web developers, designers, artists, photographers, project managers, printers and other editors.

Editors may also perform the following tasks: review copy to ensure that it is free from errors and conforms to style and format rules; manage the day-to-day running of a newspaper or magazine; assign staff and photographers to stories; write headlines and plan layout of news items; supervise journalists; undertake administrative tasks.


What qualifications do I need?

There are many different starting points to a career in editing. Some study professional writing, communications, languages or journalism at university and move right into full-time editing careers. Others work in completely unrelated fields and then combine that experience with an education in editing to move into new positions. Many employers prefer to hire editors with a university degree, combined with an internship or appropriate experience in the publishing industry. A National Senior Certificate that meets the requirements for a diploma or degree course is a prerequisite for this option. Knowledge regarding managing a business and using multimedia software and interactive technologies is important, as is keeping informed about current trends and advances in the industry.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Languages
• History


Where can I study?

University of Rhodes
Bachelor of Journalism

University of Pretoria
Bachelor of Arts: Languages (specialising in Journalism)

University of Johannesburg
Bachelor of Arts: Journalism or Languages

University of the Free State
Bachelor of Philosophy: Journalism

University of Stellenbosch
Bachelor of Arts: Languages or Journalism

Bachelor of Arts: Languages

North-West University
Bachelor of Arts: Communication or Journalism

University of the Western Cape
Bachelor of Arts: Communication

Cape Peninsula University of Technology
National Diploma: Journalism

Tshwane University of Technology
National Diploma: Journalism

Durban University of Technology
National Diploma: Journalism

Where can I get more info?

Professional Editors Group – www.editors.org.za
South African Guild of Editors – www.editorsguildsa.org
The Southern African Freelancers’ Association – www.safrea.co.za


Interview with an Editor

David Mwanambuyu | EDITOR | Black Business Quarterly

David Mwanambuyu | EDITOR | Black Business Quarterly

Why did you choose to be an editor?
It came naturally. Since my teenage days I always wanted to know what was happening around me and read just about everything that came my way. I love words and that was obviously a major factor in my decision.

What training did you undergo?
I studied journalism with the Writers Bureau College of Journalism in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Is there a type of personality best suited to this work?
A passion for people and an unquenchable quest for knowledge are key traits.

Is experience as important as formal training?
In my view, experience sets one apart, it gives you the confidence to explore any subject under the sun. That’s why it’s very important for graduates to do a bit of writing on a freelance basis prior to seeking a full-time job. It’s a very competitive profession and, as such, editors usually prefer dealing with the tried and tested. So, get your byline out there for all to see.

Describe a typical day in your working life
It’s frenetic. I check my diary first, then edit freelance copy, read the business press, research ideas, then put pen to paper.

What do you like the most about being an editor?
The interaction with people from all walks of life, the constant flow of information at my disposal and the art of turning bare facts into a readable story. That is artistic!

What don’t you like?
The perennial deadlines.

What’s been the highlight of your career?
Editing Black Business Quarterly.

What are your goals for the future?
I would love to go into media ownership one day.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the media industry?
The industry is not as glamorous as it is made out to be; it’s hard work, as you need to be prepared to go the extra mile at all times.

Describe your job in three words
A bookworm’s paradise.