Editor: Harry Mok Company: Freelance/San Francisco Chronicle Number of years in editing: 28 years
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
Hello, I’m Harry. I live in San Francisco, where I am a freelance editor, a lecturer in the journalist department at San Francisco State, and a part-time copy editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.
My first experience with editing was for my college newspaper and found I had a knack for it. There seemed to be more opportunities coming out of college for editors, so I pursued them. I got a newspaper copy editing internship the summer after I graduated, and I have worked mostly as an editor since then.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
The way most newspaper copy desks work now, everyone is editing stories from every department, so you have to be a generalist, which most editors are anyway.
Outside of my copy editing work, I have an interest in Asian American issues, race and ethnicity, and I’ve written about them. For a time, I was the editor in chief of a volunteer-run magazine called Hyphen, which covered these issues.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
When I’m working for the Chronicle, my day is dictated by publishing deadlines and there’s typically a rush in the late afternoon for the first print edition. Most stories are published online before print, so throughout the day, there are stories to be edited.
If I have a freelance project or I’m teaching a class, I have to be mindful of my time and schedule things carefully, especially if I have a shift at the paper as well.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
I love knowing that I’m helping to make something better and easier to understand for the reader.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
Right now working at home all the time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge is remembering to take breaks and to leave the home office when work is over for some exercise and fresh air.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been fortunate to have employment during the pandemic and have been working pretty regularly at the Chronicle as the news staff works remotely to publish the paper and website.
I also have a couple of recurring freelance assignments with nonprofit organizations that keep me busy.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Keep an open mind and explore your opportunities. Seek out mentors to help you grow and learn. Never stop being curious and never be afraid to ask good questions if something doesn’t seem right. Have fun at whatever you do, otherwise, it’s not worth it.