Editor: Rhiannon Root Company: The Washington Times # of years in editing: 10 years
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
Hi, I'm Rhiannon. I work in D.C. at The Washington Times at the universal copy desk. I have a cat, I do yoga, and sometimes I bake things. I read a lot, too.
I had my first editing class in college and at the time, I liked it, but didn't think it would lead anywhere. Then a few months after that class, the summer edition of my college newspaper had its first meeting. I was the only one from my section to show up. The editor-in-chief asked if I would be the editor, I said yes, and I loved it. I joined ACES shortly after.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
Most of the copy I edit is news, specifically political news. Like a lot of folks, political news has long been a source of frustration and fascination for me. I'm not sure that I picked it, so much as it picked me! It's just one of those areas of editing that I've had a weird aptitude for since forever.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I work nights, so my day begins a little later than most folks in D.C., I use that time to either answer emails, read and ease into the day. I begin my work shift around 2:30 p.m. It depends on what we have in the queue, but usually I start with the stuff that can be edited in a few minutes. I do this as a sort of warm up for the bigger stories. Then I edit wire copy and other inside pages. (My wonderful boss Cheryl edits the front page stories.) I tend to pick the stuff that can get done quicker at first because it creates a good momentum and it gamifies the work. I try to get up and move around after editing a few stories, too.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Not only do I get to use my knowledge to make sure stories are accurate, but I get to learn new stuff every single day. How cool is that?
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
Distressing content is probably the biggest challenge. Like a lot of editors in news, I edit stories about people who are often having a terrible day. There are a lot of different strategies for handling this, but what's been huge for me is that I can say to the editors who work near me, "Ugh! This story was horrible!" and they'll say, "Yes!" and we'll chat about it for a few minutes. It's small, but I've worked in places where I would express sadness about a story and one of the editors would say, "Oh? You think that's bad?" and then would tell me an incredibly traumatic story. Pain Olympics don't do anyone any good. Please don't do this.
What are you currently working on?
Getting a website built and working on more freelance projects. (Romance authors, please hit me up.)
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Oh, where do I begin? First and foremost, have a good support system and a creative outlet. Remember, you are not your job. Second, if you get asked to take an editing test, do it right away. (I messed that one up years ago and it haunts me still.) Third, do your best to master the house style guide, demonstrate your competence and make sure you show up on time. Fourth, trust your editing instincts. Fifth, if you have the opportunity to do something creative and a little out of the box, do it! You'll get points for trying, even if your boss decides to go a different route.