How I learned to be an editor


As election day approaches, I’m getting a little nervous.

Not, as you might think, because I have big voting decisions to make (I’m not a registered voter in Missouri), but because it is the culmination of my school board coverage for the Columbia Missourian’s education section.

Last year around this time I was on the brink of nervous breakdown because I was one of the reporters covering the forms and candidate events; now, I’m in charge of making sure it actually happens. No pressure, right?

All joking aside, it’s been a wonderfully exciting and challenging semester. My editor offered me the chance to spearhead this part of our coverage, and I was excited to take the reins. With a team of capable and willing reporters, we set off in February to plan our coverage. My first project as an assigning editor had begun.

What began as a lunchtime conversation has turned into a whole collection of stories about candidate forums, Q&A’s on a tax levy increase, bond issue and candidate platforms, and profiles on each person running for school board.

I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished for this campaign. There’s still a little ways to go, as elections aren’t until Tuesday and we have plenty to do, but I’m starting to relax.

Exhale. I did it.

Not without plenty of help, but there is something so gratifying about making a plan, rallying the troops and executing that plan as it was envisioned. I organized, coded, encouraged, edited, consoled, and scheduled. I had no idea at the beginning of this year that I would get the chance to lead this kind of project, but it’s just one of the many valuable experiences I’ll get to have here at the Missourian.

Just within these past few months I have learned so much about what it means to be an editor.

It’s not just editing copy or assigning stories. It’s not even being bossy, stern, or any of those things we think bosses do — it’s learning how to read people, how to encourage them and make them care as much as I do. It’s being part authority-figure, part friend, part therapist, and part cheerleader. It’s setting realistic deadlines and making realistic goals, all while working within the larger frame of the newsroom. It’s knowing how to cooperate and push and manage. It’s late nights, early mornings and missed meals.

It’s frustrating, exhilarating, exhausting and hilarious all at the same time. And It’s something I’d never get to do as a 21-year-old student if I didn’t come to Mizzou and ACE at the Missourian.

Liz, I am so grateful you let me run with this project and gave me an opportunity to lead. I don’t think I always convincingly had my act together, but you didn’t interfere. You advised, let me vent and showed me cartoon clips when necessary. Because of what I’ve learned from you, I think I’ll be a pretty good editor one day 😉

To the rest of you, read our stories and vote on Tuesday!