What is an Assignment Editor? The Driving Force Behind the Hottest News Stories
More people are glued to their phones and TV screens than ever before, fascinated by current events from around the world. Have you ever wondered who’s in charge of planning the content that makes it to the front of the line? A lot of that responsibility falls on the assignment editor, which is someone who spends their time collaborating with various sources to develop and plan reporting assignments.
What do the typical duties of an assignment editor consist of?
- Communicate with inbound public reports
- Assign writers, editors, journalists, and photographers to follow-up on leads
- Listen to police scanners and monitor social media
- Develop relationships with local law enforcement, fire departments, and government offices
- Fact-check, edit, and design final presentations
Assignment editors need to have a firm grasp of what the public wants to see and hear, so critical thinking skills are a must. This is a fast-paced position that’s not for the faint of heart. If you excel in a high-stress, deadline-driven environment, and are good at building lasting relationships, then this might just be a fantastic career choice for you.
Thankfully, in this article, we’ll review everything you need to know to land a position as an assignment editor. We’ll first cover the typical requirements, including past experience, education, and training. Then, we’ll give an example of what a job post might look like. Lastly, we’ll examine salaries, work schedules, and work environment in detail.
Typical Requirements for Becoming an Assignment Editor
Landing a position as an assignment editor takes time, passion, and commitment. The landscape is competitive, and employers will have plenty of candidates to choose from. Here’s what they typically look for:
- Job Experience
Experience trumps all when it comes to obtaining a position as an assignment editor. Qualified candidates should have at least 2-years of experience working in print or broadcast journalism. Including copywriting, staff writing, editing, and research. Completing an internship in a similar line of work will also be helpful.
The ability to forge strong professional relationships is crucial – since you’ll be collaborating with different public and government entities. Because of this, be sure to describe your role in any group projects to show you’re a team player with the ability to lead.
- Education Background
While experience is the driving force behind any successful candidate, having an education shows a certain level of commitment. Employers usually look for at least a 4-year degree in either communications, journalism, English, or broadcasting.
Having exceptional organizational skills is crucial for an assignment editor since you’ll be juggling numerous projects at once. Be sure to highlight any past projects that show your ability to prioritize and delegate.
- Training and Certifications
There’s always someone more qualified, so you must find ways to stand out from the crowd. While there are no specific certifications required to land a position as an assignment editor, mentioning anything related will help.
As with most specialized positions, relevant training happens on the job. Because of this, previous experience working in a newsroom is seen as beneficial. A few outlets for gaining experience include internships, college newspapers, or entry-level positions at smaller TV or radio stations.
Sample Assignment Editor Job Description
XYZ News is seeking an energetic, creative, and aggressive assignment editor for a full-time position. Previous experience working in a newsroom is a must. Must be able to build contacts, generate ideas and stories, and be able to act decisively without hesitation. Problem-solving skills and the ability to overcome all obstacles is crucial for this fast-paced position.
Key responsibilities include:
- Communicate effectively with producers and managers
- Monitor police scanners for breaking news
- Post breaking news stories to social media
- Help coordinate all newscasts
- Respond to inbound calls and check tip lines and emails
- Follow breaking stories and track developments
- Assist reporters, locate court documents, and research stories
- Coordinate field crews
- Contribute story ideas
- Monitor social media and websites
Required experience, skills, and education include:
- Minimum of 2-years of experience working in a newsroom
- Experience using Twitter, Facebook, and other emerging social media platforms
- Basic understanding of computers and word processors
- General knowledge of national, local, and world news
- Commitment to journalistic standards of accuracy and ethics
- Work well under pressure and excel in a deadline-driven environment
- 4-year degree with a major in journalism or broadcasting is also preferred
Assignment Editor Salary, Work Schedule, and Work Environment
Glassdoor puts the average base-pay for assignment editors at $52,107. This ranges from a low of about $35,000, to a high of $79,000. Though, if you happen to land a position in a larger newsroom, like The Washington Post, Fox News, or CNN, then you’re looking around $100,000 depending on previous experience. There are extremes on each side of the equation, but if you stick with it, you’ll move up quickly.
As they say, the news never sleeps. If you accept a position as an assignment editor, expect to put in some long hours. This usually includes weekends, evenings, and the occasional holiday. Since the day-to-day activities for most crew members are delegated by the assignment editor, expect to arrive earlier than most.
Pressure, pressure, and more pressure. As an assignment editor, you’ll be expected to perform well under pressure. This means juggling multiple deadlines at the same time, answering questions, responding to leads, and reviewing all stories before they go live. If this sounds like an environment you’d thrive in, then you’ll never have a dull moment.
Final Thoughts for Landing a Position as an Assignment Editor
If you’re driven to succeed, excel in a fast-paced setting and don’t mind a little pressure. Then the exciting world of print and broadcast news might be the perfect career decision. Be sure to build a contact list early-on in your career to make yourself a valuable asset. You can also join a professional association such as the National Association of Broadcasters to ensure you’re following any industry best practices.
Thanks for reading – and we wish you luck with landing your dream job as an assignment editor.
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