Higher Education

Think Like an Editor: 50 Strategies for the Print and Digital World, 1st Edition

  • Steve Davis Syracuse University
  • Emilie Davis Syracuse University
  • ISBN-10: 0495001295  |  ISBN-13: 9780495001294
  • 352 Pages
  • © 2011 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $75.00
  • Newer Edition Available
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THINK LIKE AN EDITOR is designed for the new breed of editors who are evolving at the same time news and information sharing is changing. The book encourages students to apply themselves confidently, to think analytically, to examine information with scrutiny, and to see the big picture. Organized by the 50 strategies of editing and working, each "strategy section" runs in length from two to six pages, which makes content easy to find for both students and professors. The text combines an examination of depth of content--teaching students not only what to do as an editor--with insight into the process behind editorial decision making. Full of tips, lists, and memory aids THINK LIKE AN EDITOR works similarly to a brief handbook of editing. Both basic skills and advanced concepts of editing are covered.

Features and Benefits

  • Part One, "Think Like an Editor," prepares editors to see the big picture and to approach content from the editor's perspective.
  • Part Two, "Work Like an Editor," emphasizes the basic skills of copy editing, which are intended not only for journalists on a copy desk but for all editors.
  • Part Three, "Act Like an Editor," explains the best ways editors can use their authority responsibly; how to avoid ethical missteps; how to get along with colleagues; and how to spot and deal with plagiarism and fabrication.
  • The "Think for the Web" segments explain how editors can involve readers and themselves. The assignments are designed to help editors think and act--to put themselves through the same mental exercises that professional journalists go through in the course of their work every day.
  • Real-world examples of editing are provided on the author-maintained blog.

Table of Contents

1. An Editor's Credo.
2. 10 Steps to a Better Story: How to Work with Reporters on a Focused Plan before They Report.
3. Enterprise: How to Come Up with Good Story Ideas.
4. Spot News: How to Help Reporters React to Breaking News .
5. News Judgment: How to Decide What's Important.
6. Curiosity: How to Strengthen This Trait.
7. See the Big Picture: How to Answer, "What's the Story?".
8. 10 Questions in 10 Minutes: How to Keep the Story Talk Going.
9. Structure: Opening Paragraphs.
10. Structure: Lead.
11. Structure: Quotes.
12. Structure: Nut Graph.
13. Structure: Cosmic Graph.
14. Give Credit: How to Ensure Proper Attribution, Sourcing and Substantiation.
15. Show, Don't Tell: How to Include Anecdotes, Examples and Details.
16. Context: How to Provide Background and Relevance.
17. Closer Look: How to Tell Where the Story Works and Where It Needs Work.
18. Skeptical Editing: Ask Key Questions Graph by Graph.
19. Pace: Keep the Story Moving.
20. Sensitivity: Sexual Orientation/ Gender/Race/Religion/Disabilities/Age.
21. Holding a Story: 10 Warning Signs That a Story Should Not Run.
22. Saving a Story: 10 Things You Can Do to Make a Story Work.
23. Treat Editing Like a Mystery: How to Approach a Story.
24. Edit for AP Style.
25. Edit for Grammar.
26. Edit for Spelling.
27. Edit for Punctuation.
28. Edit for Accuracy.
29. Edit for Fairness.
30. Edit for Balance.
31. Edit for Libel.
32. Tight Writing: How to Keep It Simple.
33. Trim a Story: How to Identify 10 Places to Cut.
34. Transitions: How to Change Subjects and Speakers.
35. Clich├ęs: How to Be Original.
36. Verbs: How to Choose Strong Ones.
37. 24-Hour Local News Cycle: How to Handle It.
38. Web Elements: 5 Cautions.
39. Ethics.
40. Taste.
41. Headlines, Keywords and Metadata.
42. Points of Entry and Points of Involvement.
43. Graphics and Maps.
44. Photos.
45. Promos and Refers.
46. Corrections: Own Up to Mistakes.
47. Credibility: Put Yourself above Reproach.
48. Plagiarism and Fabrication: What Editors Can Do.
49. Deadline Pressure: How to Get Along in the Newsroom.
50. Keep Asking Questions.

Efficacy and Outcomes


"[Think Like an Editor] feels up-to-date. Given the speed with which the industry is changing, that's of paramount importance to me and my students."

— Mary Haupt, Binghamton University

"A practical, quick and hands-on approach to teaching students basic copy editing skills."

— Chris Ritchie, Penn State University

"It is a concise, practical book with excellent hands-on exercises."

— Michael Hammonds, Averett University

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Steve Davis

Steve Davis has worked in newsrooms of all sizes since 1977, when he graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor of journalism, news editorial sequence. Since 1999, he has taught at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where he is chair of the Department of Newspaper and Online Journalism. Steve's 30-year career in newsrooms and classrooms has covered these stops: "Clarion-Ledger" in Jackson, MS; "Democrat and Chronicle", Rochester, NY; "Gannett New Media", Rosslyn, VA; "USA TODAY", Rosslyn, VA; and "Public Opinion", Chambersburg, PA. Steve has kept current with the evolving news profession by designing a professional internship, which he served for five weeks at USA TODAY, and through multimedia training. Steve also is co-author of "Click on Democracy: The Internet's Power to Change Political Apathy into Civic Action," an examination of how everyday Americans employed online tools to influence and participate in the 2000 presidential election. Steve teaches reporting and writing for multiple platforms. He has traveled extensively with students to South Africa and Liberia to give them global experiences. Students produced multimedia stories from their trips. Steve also directed the News21 program at the Newhouse School for two years, in which students traveled around the country to produce their multimedia stories.

Emilie Davis

Emilie Davis is an adjunct professor in the Department of Newspaper and Online Journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She returned to Syracuse, her hometown, in 1999, after a 17-year career in these newsrooms: "Democrat and Chronicle", Rochester, NY; "Gannett New Media", Rosslyn, VA; and "Gannett News Service", Rosslyn, VA. At the Newhouse School, Emilie teaches beginning and advanced editing courses, multimedia storytelling, and an internship practicum in which students work at professional news organizations during the semester. She also teaches a six-week summer "boot camp" news writing and reporting course for incoming graduate students majoring in the magazine-newspaper-online and arts journalism programs. Emilie has relied on multimedia training to keep current with the news profession.