Tactics for harnessing overzealous editors

How to tactfully disagree with editors who are frustrated reporters and writers, and how to encourage them to consider the overriding objective of the story before over-editing your copy.

Bad editors are bad for business—and your bosses or clients might be the problem.

If they are rewriting, sending you a lot of tracked changes or making vague demands like “make it more punchy” or “make it less like a brochure,” you are in the majority.

Bad editors are not only bad for morale, they’re bad for business. For one thing, there’s the immediate waste inherent in over-editing that takes up time on deadline without altering the eventual business outcome.

Beyond that, an insidious dynamic develops within the team and poisons efforts yet to come. All kinds of weirdness ensue: blame, apathy, polarization, ineptitude. For perspective, ask: “Will this edit alter our business outcome?”

So, how should you deal with bad editors?

First, don’t take it personally. I’m a mercenary myself. I do this for a living, not for my ego.

Second, fix only what’s broken. Don’t join in the overreacting.

Third, know that your problem is many people’s problem. You are just the one with the guts to speak up about it. Take a stand. Be a leader. Articulate the problem. I guarantee you won’t be alone in experiencing it.

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