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Editor Tips

Each day for the first 26 days (more or less) of school, I send out Editor Tips.

Well, we’ve chosen editors, now what?

This problem plagued me for quite some time. I think it’s actually a problem that plagues quite a few advisers on a yearly basis and it is often a subject of the JEA listserve.

We plan things out, get our staffs set, name our editors, and then we expect them to be the leaders we know they can be. The problem is, we don’t often give the editors the necessary training it takes to be an effective leader.

One of the things I have done to help develop my editors is supply them with Tips of the Day for their first 26 days on the job. I email the tips to them nightly, but could just as easily distribute the tips to them during class.

The tips that you will find within this manual are more of a guide than anything. I’m sure you will find some you agree with and others you don’t. Depending on the year, I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with some as well.

There will also be tips you find redundant (I’ve used them to drive a point home) and others you may just want to toss out. Again, it’s a guide and specific to me in my situation. It is a living and breathing document that changes from year to year.

During the course of the tip distribution, I usually send an email out to the editors asking them for tips they would give to an editor if they were in my shoes. It helps make the process a bit more interactive and I usually try to work in a few of their ideas to the final 10 tips. Actually, some of their ideas are pretty impressive and make the manual much stronger as a whole.

In any case, it’s in this format or another, do something to prepare your editors for what’s ahead of them. You want them to be successful. They want to be successful. And if they’re successful, it will be a much better year for the staff as a whole.

Use them as you wish. Make them specific to your room, your staff, and your situation. And get your voice to come though.

If you have further questions on these tips or just have a tip you’d like to share since I just shared 26 with you, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me and I’d love for you to keep the discussion going in the comments below.

Good luck and may the force be with you.

– Aaron

26 Editor Tips

  1. Lead By Example – This one is pretty self-explanatory but you can read my take on it here.
  2. Give Guidance – You need to be a vocal leader that gives them a mission each day.
  3. Plan Prior to Class Each Day – This doesn’t need to be a lot of planning, just enough to give your staff direction and focus for the day.
  4. Get Upset with Me – My job is to push you. Sometimes that means I need to push you to do better. You might not like that. Use that energy to do something great.
  5. Bring Treats on Your Birthday – Here I explain the philosophy of the room which is to bring treats on your birthday, not someone else’s and why you should make the birthday song a special one in the room.
  6. Be Visible – Often times, staffers see the most visible people in the room as the leaders. Be at school as much as possible, be in the room when available.
  7. You Gotta Love it – If you want to do this job right, it’s got to be one you really want. It can’t be something you just want because it looks good on paper.
  8. Tell People You Appreciate Them – Sometimes we have to force ourselves to do this as it’s not human nature for most people.
  9. Know the Editorial Policy – It’s the document that runs the room. Make sure you are well-versed on the ins and outs of it.
  10. Making Fun of Someone Does Have Its Place – The rule here is that it’s ok to joke about someone in the room — as long as that person is yourself.
  11. Be The Best – Any job worth doing is doing well. Why would you want to commit so much time to something to just be ‘ok’ at it. You will not always be the best, but if your goal is to be great, you’ll hit that mark much more often than if you just settle for doing decent.
  12. Tie Day – This is one of my favorite. I’ll let it speak for itself. You can read it here.
  13. Senior Skip Day – I’m not a fan. I let the eds know about it from the start. That way, they can make an informed decision when the time comes.
  14. Monday Stories – It’s great to take time at the beginning of the week to let staffers share their (PG-13) stories from the weekend. It helps build a sense of community in the room.
  15. Pick Your Battles Wisely – There will be lots of battles throughout the year. You’ll have choices on which ones to take head-on, and which ones to just let pass. You can’t fight them all.
  16. Be Happy – Seems like a pretty simple rule, but one that takes work. Attitudes are contagious. Make yours the best it can be.
  17. Take Some Time Off – While you need to make sure you don’t do this on a deadline week, everyone does need some time off to get away from things and reset their clock.
  18. Senior Day – While I am not a fan of Senior Skip Day, I am a fan of Senior Day in May. It’s a day when seniors can leave campus. It’s a perk for being a senior. No matter what deadline we are on, seniors are expected to stay out of the room that day. I’d be a Grinch if I took that benefit away. I try to live a Grinch-free life.
  19. Address the Situation. Correct the Problem. Move on. – This is another important one to let the editors know how I work and give them some advice on how I think they should work. You can read it here.
  20. Know a Little About a Lot – As an editor, you need to be versitle and able to answer a variety of questions. You need to either know the answer or be able to point the staffer in the direction of someone who does.
  21. Sing Praises Often – Make sure you work to tell people they did something well.
  22. Handouts Can Be Great – While I’m not a fan of worksheets, I think handouts can be great reinforcement tools for important lessons, skills or concepts you want your staffers to get.
  23. Follow Through if you Give an Ultimatum – If you levy a threat like “Have your spread done by Friday or you will be removed from it and receive an ‘F,'” be prepared to follow through. If you don’t, your voice will soon become white noise.
  24. When Something is Your Fault, Fix It – These editor tips are actually a result of this simple philosophy. You can read about it here.
  25. Say Hi to Everyone Each Day – Let them know you notice them and that you’re glad to see them.
  26. Make the Room a Fun Place to be – This can be done in a variety of ways.
What tips would you add to this list? Add them in the comments below, share with the masses and keep this spark going.

14 thoughts on “Editor Tips

Katie O’NeillPosted on  3:06 am - Nov 15, 2011

Editor tips were very helpful because their focus wasn’t directly on our work. These weren’t tips to make us better writers, photographers, or designers. Their focus was to help us expand our leadership skills. Skills that we used as editors to try and bring our staff together and motivate everyone to do their best work, but also skills that we could use outside of the publications room. The things that Manfull covered in the editor tips are good life tips in general most of the advice that he gave us there I could still use everyday.

Matt RasgorshekPosted on  3:11 am - Nov 15, 2011

These tips have been fantastic! My editors and producers have told me throughout the years that they always looked forward to those emails and that a lot of them still resonate.

I’ve modified a lot of them to fit my classes and I’ve added some here and there. All in all, a valuable tool when training my leadership teams.

Rebecca PollardPosted on  3:14 am - Nov 15, 2011

I have used your editor tips at my last school faithfully after I attended your session in Nashville about them. My kids love them! Of course, I use yours as a backbone, then adapt them to our current situation. Some tips I change out of tips of my own as I see fit.

At the school I am at now, I started my own program here. I had two years with no editors at all because everything was so new. But this year I do have an editorial board in place. They are starting to get tips today actually. It took me a while to adapt them all to this group of kids, but they are finally ready.

My kids really enjoy them. They feel that it gives them added training and insight on leadership from me since I don’t have time to coach them in class as we all would like to have. Some of them printed them out and kept them in their staff binder, some save them in their email accounts. When I mentioned I was doing them this year for my editors, my staff kids begged me to do some for them too. I haven’t figured out how to fit that in yet, but when I do, I will give them a separate set of tips as well.

So you simple, clever idea has been VERY effective for us. I am so grateful for attending that session back in Nashville. It has truly changed the way my editors lead their groups.

Mary PrichardPosted on  3:16 am - Nov 15, 2011

I enjoyed reading the editor tips and using them as inspiration to write my own for my editors. Even if we did not always discuss them daily in class, I know the tips helped set early expectations on how to behave as leaders in the classroom and encouraged my editors to do the best they can.

Alicia RipplingerPosted on  3:17 am - Nov 15, 2011

The editor tips of the day were a wonderful learning experience. Not only did they help me succeed in yearbook, they are also wonderful life lessons. Some of the tips are serious and some of them are more fun, but all of them were important. It has been over four years since high school and I still think about all the great things I learned in those years and try to apply them in my daily life.

Barbara Jean PalmerPosted on  3:40 am - Nov 15, 2011

Editor tips helped me be a better leader.They taught me that when helping others on staff you should give them your full divided attention, not shoot people’s ideas down, and be present in the room. Most of all editor tips also helped me to be more outgoing then I ever had before. Being outgoing helped me form friendships with people I usually would not have been friends with. Editor tips and room 026 has helped shape me into the person I am today.

David HoehnPosted on  11:30 am - Nov 15, 2011

In my time as an editor for Francis Howell North publications, I grew in so many ways as a leader, writer, and all around person. While the hands-on experience was invaluable, it was also nice to have a physical guide to learn from, refer to and build on every day. I found that guide in Manfull’s Editor Tips. Every day, each editor was given a new concept to think about and reflect on. One day, it might have been a key skill to help us communicate effectively with our peers. The next, we might find ourselves reading about the importance of planning and organization. And every now and then, to balance it out, there were fun tips, such as the importance of bringing treats on your birthday. However, while these fun tips may have initially seemed like small ways to make the room more interesting, it became clear pretty quickly that they were just as important as the other, more serious tips. The birthday treats tip started as follows, “Bring treats on your birthday. Make others bring treats on their own birthday. Sing loudly. Sing obnoxiously. Most importantly, make them feel special for a part of their special day.” It wasn’t just about loading ourselves up on sugar. The tips gave us new ways to connect with each other. Not only did the tips give me good skills to pass along to my classmates, they helped bring us all together. The tips were a good mix of specific instances as well as general life lessons, but they also helped make room 026 the second home that many of us felt it to be.

Jordyn KlacknerPosted on  5:15 pm - Nov 15, 2011

Editor tips served as perfect little reminders for me throughout the year and continue to be great reminders today! They were great pieces of advice and guidance I was always making use of while serving as a leader to my peers and helped me grow to my full potential as an editor.

Ashlee SchneiderPosted on  3:33 am - Nov 16, 2011

Editor tips helped me be a better editor because at first I had no idea what I was doing. By senior year the editor tips helped refocus on how to be an editor and made me think about things in a different way. Editor tips was one of the best things that you did for me as an editor. I still use those tips everyday.

Sam DulaneyPosted on  11:21 am - Nov 16, 2011

The tip that helped me most was sing praises often/tell others you appreciate them. The room got crazy kinda hectic and stressful many times. People would just get into funks and bad moods and it would spread throughout the room. But when class was started with praises, or people were publicly acknowledged for their hard work, it made the hard work worth it 🙂

Jim StreiselPosted on  8:03 am - Nov 22, 2011

Here’s an easy tip: Why reinvent the wheel? Just email the link to this editor tips page to all of your editors. Great stuff, as always.

On Resources and Leadership | European ScholasticJournalismPosted on  11:13 am - Feb 13, 2013

[…] what was missing: our student leaders were never actually taught how to lead. Manfull developed a list of tips for his editors and would email them one each day. Through the tips, he would tackle issues that would help the […]

Northwest Scholastic Press : Aaron Manfull’s speech accepting the 2011 Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Teacher of the Year HonorPosted on  12:37 pm - Jun 5, 2013

[…] this idea and they were the first things I placed on the site when I built it. On thenext26.com you can find a page with some of the rationale behind my tips, as well as 26 tips you could use to put your editors in a better place. Use the tips to train editors this spring for […]

Northwest Scholastic Press : Aaron Manfull’s speech accepting the 2011 Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Teacher of the Year HonorPosted on  7:02 pm - Mar 1, 2014

[…] this idea and they were the first things I placed on the site when I built it. On thenext26.com you can find a page with some of the rationale behind my tips, as well as 26 tips you could use to put your editors in a better place. Use the tips to train editors this spring for […]

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