Magazine section editors work as part of an editorial team, taking responsibility for the content of a specific part of a magazine. On an entertainment magazine, a team of section editors might take responsibility for film, television or theater features. A sports magazine might appoint different editors to handle football, basketball or swimming sections. Section editors generally work for a senior editor who takes overall responsibility for a magazine’s output.
Section editors must develop a good understanding of the topics that interest their readers. They use that understanding to develop a program of features that will make their section compulsive reading for the audience. As well as having a strong personal interest in their field, section editors analyze readership surveys and comments from readers to identify topics that will appeal. They also review competitive magazines to ensure they cover popular subjects.
Editors use their specialist knowledge of the market to identify writers, photographers and illustrators whose work is highly regarded by readers. Within the limits of their budgets, they aim to attract the top contributors so they can build the magazine’s reputation for high-quality entertaining content. As well as building direct relationships with contributors, section editors maintain contact with agents to find new talent.
Section editors present their proposals for their section to a senior editor or an editorial board. They aim to win as much space as possible for their section, competing with other section editors for space and budgets. At the conclusion of the editorial meeting, they receive their allocation for future issues.
Section editors then commission feature articles, photographs and illustrations to fill their allotted space in each issue of the magazine. They may run features on specific topics or commission articles on recent developments or breaking news. Editors provide contributors with guidelines on the content they need and give them schedules for completing their work. They also negotiate fees and arrange payment for contributors.
When contributors submit their material, section editors review it to ensure that it meets their expectations. If additional work is necessary, editors discuss the changes with contributors and set deadlines for rewrites. When they have approved the content, they carry out detailed text editing, checking grammar, spelling and punctuation. They liaise with designers and production staff to prepare layouts and produce final content in line with production schedules.
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