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An assignment editor works at the assignment desk, which is the nerve center of any newsroom. This is where newsroom staff members monitor multiple sources for breaking news, including police and fire scanners. When possible news arises, the assignment editor works with reporters, photographers, producers, and other staff members to assign and develop story ideas.
Editorial judgment: Assignment editors need to be able to quickly decide whether a story is newsworthy. And although they aren't usually writing the stories themselves, they need to know all of the components of a good news story to guide reporters on coverage. Interpersonal skills: Successful assignment editors form relationships with many contacts that can help bring a story together. For example, someone in this role at a local TV news station may have all the county sheriffs' home telephone numbers on speed-dial and be on a first-name basis with the current and previous mayors. Organizational skills: An assignment editor must be able to organize the logistics and track the details of several stories at a time and keep everything on schedule. Communication skills: An assignment editor must skillfully communicate with all of the staff involved in making news stories come together, including reporters, photographers, production teams, and executive staff.
Education, Training, & Certification.
When working in television, an assignment editor may also work with the tv producer to decide which crews will take live trucks or a helicopter to broadcast live during a newscast. Also, a TV news anchor who is reviewing scripts just before airtime will often turn to the assignment editor to confirm facts.
An assignment editor's salary can vary depending on location, experience, and employer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers salary data for the broader editor category, but it doesn't offer separate data on the assignment editor subcategory:
Assignment Editor Salary.
The American Media Institute offers a list of professional associations you can join. Which one you choose may depend on your specialty or medium (websites or television, for instance). This will help you build your contact list and stay up to date on the latest tools and techniques in the industry.
Most of this job is done in an office working under several tight deadlines at once. Those who thrive on pressure and get an adrenaline rush when something unexpected happens may be best suited for this occupation.
It's up to the assignment editor to assign people to investigate and report on news stories. The assignment editor's day is sometimes spent shifting people and equipment around so that as many stories get covered as possible, with an eye out on how to handle breaking news coverage at any moment.
How to Get the Job.
Assignment Editor Skills & Competencies.
Glenn Halbrooks wrote about news media for The Balance Careers. He is a TV news director with more than 30 years experience.
What Does an Assignment Editor Do?
Assignment Editor Duties & Responsibilities.
Join a Professional Association.
Education: Most employers prefer candidates that have at least a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English. Experience: This is often key to getting this type of job, because experience is key to building a list of contacts and learning how to operate smoothly. Employers usually prefer candidates with a background in the type of media in which they specialize, whether it's television, digital, or print news. Training: Most training happens on the job. Aspiring assignment editors may want to find an internship position at a newsroom assignment desk.
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