Each member of the editorial team is important. While definitions of each role can vary from publication to publication, and roles can overlap—especially within small teams— here are some general features of each position.
The role of an editorial director typically implies a form of supervision over several titles or editorial products that may include newsletters, websites, and sometimes events. It depends on the publication, but often they are less involved with the day-to-day work and are there to provide editorial direction and advice, working with other executives and senior management to develop a vision that encompasses all of the publisher’s magazines.
The editor-in-chief (also known as executive editor) is essentially responsible for the editorial direction of the magazine and content procurement. He or she works from the vision set by the editorial director to create the tone and editorial direction of the individual publication.
The editor-in-chief is responsible for ensuring every issue is consistent with the vision and policies of the publication. He or she may travel or make appearances more often than the rest of the team as a representative of the magazine. For smaller magazines, he or she may also have to handle the day-to-day production.
The managing editor supports the editor-in-chief by being in the office day-to-day to manage the rest of the team and ensure deadlines are met. He or she also works with the design team to manage the production of each issue.
Senior, associate, and assistant editors
Most editors at the beginning of their careers join a publication as an assistant editor before moving up to associate and then senior. These editors do most of the writing. As more experienced professionals, senior editors often help the rest of the team develop story ideas.
They may also work more one-on-one with lower-level editors to help them develop skills, while the managing editor is focused on keeping everyone on track to meet deadlines. Associates and assistants may do more of the grunt work such as sorting through and posting press releases.
Copyeditors are excellent in grammar and spelling and have a passion for attention to details. Copyeditors proofread all stories before publication. They may also serve as fact-checkers and reshape headlines or leads.
This article includes contributions from Paul Tarricone, editor, and publisher of LD+A magazine by the Illuminating Engineering Society, and Theresa Cramer, editor of EContent and Speech Technology, both in the United States.