The role of the modern day deputy editor

As Bob Dylan once said: “The times they are a-changin’” Of course, that was in relation to the changing of the guard in the 60s, specifically at the new found freedom surging through the Western world, libertas and freedom that was to mould and sculpt a generation; the times they are a-changin’

Well, the same could be said for the current state of the publishing industry.

There’s no doubt about it, there’s more emphasis on online content now than ever before. People want instant gratification, something they cannot always get through traditional means of publication, and companies are starting to change the way they do things to reflect this.

The Daily Mail, the second biggest selling newspapers in the UK (behind the Sun), was the first to read the writing on the wall.

A few years ago, they threw huge amounts of resources to expand their online presence (ensuring it was separate from their print edition), so much so they are now one of the largest online news website in the world.

And with it the role of the reporter has changed. For print, a news reporter had to do one, maybe two, solid stories a day. Compare this to an online reporter who has to publish six to eight stories per day. Instant gratification.


With such a fierce battlefield, there are always going to be winners and losers, and companies are always going to try what they can to survive and triumph.

One such example of this is the Guardian who have just launched ‘The Guardian: Live’ in the hope it can turn around circulation figures and online viewers.

It had previously been thought – and some still think this is the case – that the Guardian would be the first major broadsheet to quit the publishing industry and focus all their attention online. Perhaps this is the final surge, one last counter attack, to see if they can rise victorious.


Looking at it, there has been a knock on effect, and individually people have had to retrain and learn new skills; you’d better start swimming or sink like a stone.

The role of the deputy editor, a role that was once only ever associated with print, is now almost unrecognisable.

The modern day editor still has to have perfect spelling, punctuation and grammar, and an exceptional eye for detail, but the role involves so much more now.

The modern day editor has to be a curator of content, to see which image would work with the copy, and where. They have to inspire their writers, giving specific instruction as to what is needed and why. And this is on top of being organised and analytical in their approach to work.


The main problem with instant gratification is exactly that; it’s instant, and if you don’t deliver it them someone else will. If you don’t deliver all the content someone needs, they will find it elsewhere, so now the job of an editor is to be an online architect, a puppet master, pulling everything together to give an integrated piece of content. Not just words and images, but videos and maps, anything to enrich the content and keep the user on site, anything to keep the user happy.

Editors now almost have to prophesise with their pen and predict the future of the online world, to predict exactly what the user wants. In an ever changing landscape it is an extremely exciting place to be.

The times they are a-changing, and we are changing with it.