Thus Spoke The News Editor

One. If I return a story to be rewritten it is not because I think you are thick, incompetent or unhinged. It is because I think the story has to be rewritten despite your unquestionable intelligence, competence and compos mentis.

Two. If I tell you that there is something wrong with your story I will make sure you understand exactly what I think is wrong with it. Do not think I am pestering you just because I have found it necessary to say the same thing in ten different ways, every time asking if you got it.

Three. Do not stoop to linguistic acrobatics just to impress the readers, unless you are completely and absolutely* sure you know what every single word you use means. The same goes for syntax; before you embark on a 100-word, Faucault-style, word flood, think again — you write news, not literary criticism.

*That means not just beyond reasonable doubt, it means beyond any doubt.

Four. When I ask if you have double-checked your information, it is because I don’t trust you 100%. I trust no one 100% except myself. So don’t pout, just tell me in a clear voice that you have. I will triple-check and then I will believe you. Trust is a process that could bring you to 80% in my meticulous mental list. 80% is the maximum, don’t push it.

Five. When I tell you that the story, or part of it, can be written better it is because I am completely certain that it can be. This is because I know I can write it better and if I can do it, then you can, too.

Six. Editors are not human but they retain a certain degree of humanity. If you feel troubled in any way I find relevant to the smooth operation of our joint, feel free to share, I will be understanding. (Editor’s note: If you feel troubled in any other way, also feel free to share. I will be understanding because I am a Cancer. But try to dodge and I will come down on you like all the bricks of a house on fire. Plus, you will never regain that trust I talked about earlier.)

Seven. Do your job and let me do mine. If you feel an urge to question my judgement, you are free to do so, but please refrain from using irony — I was born ironic and I have been working on it ever since. If you think you can be a better editor, see Five, then think again if you are up to it. Before confidently saying “Yes!”, think yet again. And do not whine, I am just, except on days when the whole world is against me, but you will recognize those by the steam coming out of my ears.


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