On-air staff serve as the voice of a radio news station, but the chief news editor determines what the audience hears. The job title varies by station, so a news director at one outlet might play the same role as the managing editor at another. He directs overall news coverage and works closely with station management, production staff and other personnel. He also sets editorial, technical and ethical standards, promoting journalistic integrity throughout the production process.
This role typically requires at least a four-year degree in journalism or a related field, and at least three years of full-time journalism experience. Some stations require significantly more. Southern California Public Radio, for example, requires 10 years of journalism experience, with at least five of those in broadcast. Ideally, candidates should come from a radio news background. They also need experience in multiple aspects of radio operations, including production, writing and editing. Because they play an administrative role, many stations require proficiency in basic office functions, such as word processing, creating spreadsheets and using office equipment.
As the station’s primary editor, he oversees all aspects of reporting and production. He develops story ideas and assigns them to reporters, also determining the on-air schedule for all stories and programming. The "Public Radio News Directors Guide" notes that this role, which it describes as planning, scheduling and editing, accounts for 40 percent of his job. He may delegate some of these tasks to lower-level editors, frequently working with a team of assigning editors who assist him in coordinating each day’s news coverage.
At many stations, he oversees programming budgets and technical resources. For example, he might determine the annual budget for the news department and also monitor spending on a monthly basis. He also recruits and hires journalists and other members of the news staff, in addition to training them and evaluating their performance. He works closely with other members of the station’s management team to set journalistic standards and enhance the quality of the station’s news reporting. He also acts as a liaison between the station and the public, attending events, fundraisers and other community activities.
The scope of this role depends on the type and size of the station. At many radio news outlets, the chief editor wears many hats, not only supervising reporters and other staff, but also handling some on-air reporting duties. In fact, The "Public Radio News Directors Guide" notes that anchoring and reporting can account for as much as 25 percent of his job. Because he shapes the station's overall style and focus of reporting, he must stay abreast of local and regional current events and issues.
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