Editors are senior journalists allocated the responsibility of reviewing the content of a publication or section within a publication. The type of employer determines the specific duties of the editor. However, most editors assign, accept or reject, prepare and sometimes write articles for publication. They supervise the work of sub-editors, writers, reporters, photographers, typesetters, advertising and other workers.

Editors may specialise by working for employers such as book, newspaper or magazine publishers. They can also specialise in a subject area such as food, the arts, finance, sport or travel.

Editors in book publishing firms decide whether a manuscript has the potential to be a successful publication. Once a manuscript is approved, they arrange for the copyright, decide on the print, production techniques and promotion. Copy editors in publishing firms check through the text carefully, correct language and factual errors and sometimes do extensive rewriting.

A major part of an editor’s role is meeting deadlines, requiring excellent people management skills in order to do so. Editors in the newspaper industry in particular, work at a hectic pace to meet deadlines. Magazine editors and newspaper editors assign, accept or reject, prepare and sometimes write articles themselves for publication. Managing editors are the owners’ representatives and set editorial policy.

Editors who publish books and magazines are considered to have a less hectic schedule than that of newspaper editors. The reason for this is that magazine and book editors have more flexible deadlines compared to newspaper editors, who have hourly and daily deadlines.

Experience and ability are the keys to successful editing. Important changes in media require adapting and upgrading of knowledge and skills. Publications are run on business principles, therefore knowledge of business management is important. In this industry it is important to stay up-to-date with technology and the advances in digital media and the Internet.

With a diploma in journalism one may get the opportunity to be appointed as a reporter or a journalist. With experience, ability and further qualifications one may proceed to higher posts such as sub-editor and later as editor. Usually a degree in languages together with relevant experience in journalism and newspaper or magazine publishing work is required.
The competition is very keen for promotion into the key policy-making positions of a newspaper. An editor may become a chief editor, and an editor of a special area such as sport, finance, arts, etc. may be appointed as head of a department with responsibility for a large staff.

Some editors leave large newspapers to begin a small-town newspaper of their own. Editors in the book-publishing field may move from a small publishing house to a larger, more prestigious one where opportunities for promotion, while competitive, are more readily available.

The rising costs of publishing, the trend toward paperback books, the advances in electronic media and economic downturns, may have a bad effect on this industry in general.

Personal Requirements

  • good written and spoken language ability
  • very good general knowledge
  • curious and persistent
  • accurate, unbiased and objective
  • able to work well with others
  • initiative and resourcefulness
  • good memory and an eye for detail
  • good command of official languages


  • newspaper firms
  • magazine firms
  • book publishing firms
  • educational institutions, as educator or lecturer
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can open own publishing business

Getting Started

  • assist with the publication of your school magazine
  • try to obtain vacation work in a newspaper office
  • help to prepare a newsletter for your school club or youth organisation


Boston City Campus and Business College does not offer a programme that leads directly to this occupation. Please take a look at the related occupations below to see whether any of these appeal to you. Alternately, please send an email to taryn@boston.co.za and a Student Advisor will call you back.

Related Occupations

A PACE Career Centre Product. © All rights reserved | Developed by Netgen (Pty) Ltd. Disclaimer: Please see disclaimer