The New Edit Formula: “Volume And Velocity”
OK, so maybe it’s not so new, but have you noticed in the last year or so how the pace has changed? I don’t care if you write for a monthly or even a quarterly magazine—online all the deadlines are daily.
My first job was as an editor of a bi-weekly print newsletter (a nearly defunct business model these days). Most of the editors were recent colleges graduates, working on their own weekly or bi-weekly newsletters. However, the company did offer a daily e-mail newsletter—cutting edge back then—called “Media Daily” written by two editors who were there well before 9 and long after 5. We soft print editors would shake our heads in awe at the pace.
That seems almost laughable today, when putting out a daily newsletter is just part of the package and a 10-hour workday seems like early dismissal. Last January, the CNNMoney.com site redesigned to incorporate exclusive online content from Fortune, Money, Business 2.0 and Fortune Small Business. A team of 35 journalists focuses solely on creating content and today the site publishes nearly 100 stories per day, more than triple the number it posted a year ago, according to executive editor and vice president Chris Peacock. “The formula is volume and velocity,” says Peacock. “This is obviously a challenge for smaller publishers but it’s not insurmountable.” Peacock cites Business 2.0 which has a “small staff” [small at least by Fortune standards] in which every staffer, including editor Josh Quittner, writes a blog and posts at least two items per day.
The push for “community content” is also changing the editor’s role. IDG Entertainment’s GamePro.com re-launched last spring with an emphasis on community—and user submissions have swelled from an average of 155 user submissions per day to 2,650 per day, according to marketing director Simon Tonner. “You have to be in touch with these users all the time,” says Tonner. “You may come in the morning and think you have four stories to write but you might open up the forums and see if there’s a topic being discussed that completely changes your focus. You have to have that flexibility, and that might be a completely different work environment than what you’re used to do.”
But ultimately, volume doesn’t necessarily equal quality. The role of the editor online isn’t just to keep the content assembly line moving but maintaining quality control. “With the volume of content going online and the rush to publish, an online editor needs to be fluent with the software skills but needs to be a good copy editor as well,” says Wyatt Kash, editorial director at Government Computer News.
How are you managing the editorial workflow online?