What Does an Executive Editor Do?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
Executive editors oversee a team of editors.
Executive editors oversee a team of editors.

The duties of an executive editor can vary somewhat, depending on the exact needs of the media outlet that employs him or her. Executive editors at a magazine or online website, for example, are likely to oversee and work with writers and other editors to ensure that articles are complete and acceptable for their appropriate format. They may also end up writing some original content and working with various partners to ensure that they maintain an advantage over other outlets. The responsibilities of this editor at a book publisher, on the other hand, usually include managing other editors and working with writers to ensure a high-quality final product.

An executive editor is typically responsible for overseeing other editors as part of a team at a publisher or some type of news or media outlet. Since a fairly wide range of work environments can include this title, the duties and responsibilities of such editors can vary quite a bit. At a media outlet, an executive editor is typically responsible for organizing and managing other editors and writers. This means that his or her primary duties involve time management and communication between multiple departments to ensure that stories are complete on time and that the overall tone of a particular publication is upheld by each piece.

There are also some instances in which an executive editor may write original works for an outlet. Editorials, for example, are often written by an editor at a publication, and the editor may write a piece covering a subject about which he or she is particularly passionate. It may also be necessary for these editors to perform rewrites on other people’s work and ensure that the proper tone for a publication is met in each article. Other editors are typically charged with these responsibilities, but managing editors may perform them when necessary.

An executive editor at a book publisher may have somewhat similar tasks, though they are often slightly different due to the nature of book publishing. The executive or managing editor typically oversees other editors to ensure that books are complete and ready for publication within determined schedules. They may also work directly with major clients of a publisher, such as especially famous writers or agencies that contract with that publisher and have ongoing accounts. An executive editor might oversee an entire department at some publishers, ensuring that books are accepted and completed on schedule and in a way that meets the approval of the publisher in general.

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Discussion Comments


An executive editor in a newsroom at a newspaper sometimes has a hands off sort of position, but at a small to medium sized paper, he or she is the top dog in charge, and most story ideas, news budgets and the like run through him.

He can make a newsroom a pleasant or miserable place to work, depending on his managerial style. A micro-manager usually doesn't do well as an executive editor, since you have to trust your staff to do their jobs.

The executive editor is also frequently the buck-stops-here person. When people call the paper and they're upset about a story, they often want to speak with the person "in charge," and that usually means the executive editor.

A good editor can keep a newsroom running, stories flowing and workers feeling like they are doing a good job. A bad one can make it purgatory on earth.

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    • Executive editors oversee a team of editors.
      Executive editors oversee a team of editors.