Our editorial leaders offer their take about their work and the future of a rapidly evolving craft.
The democratization of content has multiplied, diversified and decentralized media sources, enabling just about anyone to establish a platform, harness an audience and incite or contribute to public dialogue. People are creating, consuming and sharing more media than ever before.
With so many amplified voices and competing mediums vying for attention, it just might be that the role of the editor-in-chief, although transformed, is now more relevant than it ever has been. But where do we go from here? We asked our editorial leaders to share their vision of the way ahead.
In the future, what will the role of editor-in-chief look like?
Managing Editor, Luxury and Lifestyle Group, Montreal
Much the same as it does today.
Tomorrow’s editor-in-chief needs to continue to look beyond the draft in their inbox to imagine the many ways a story can resonate with audiences – be it on a printed page or as a video excerpt, audio file, slideshow or Instagram story. It’s no longer “digital first,” but rather a 360-degree plan of attack… But I do think the role will be valued more. Robots can’t do everything, and our time only continues to be precious. There’s so much flotsam and jetsam online, it can be time-consuming to find underwater gems. Editors-in-chief are content’s pearl divers, the ones you go to for quality. It’s our job to find the best writers to tell the best stories in the best ways possible, in order to make sure you are well-informed, entertained and not wasting your time.
Head of Editorial: Business & Finance, London
When I started working in content marketing (more years ago than I care to remember), it was called contract publishing. The editor-in-chief had a corner office that was shared with the creative director and in those distant days, print ruled. Projects had editors, deputies, subs and even editorial assistants – and lots and lots of words to wrangle. Fast-forward a decade or two, and the editorial teams have shrunk, as has the volume of words that they produce. But the ecosystem is much richer, with digital and social in the mix, and while there may be fewer words, the editorial is more creative than ever. The editor-in-chief’s role is much more complex – they have to be commercially-minded and a consummate strategist too. But the role will always have creativity at its core – because how else do agencies get consumers to engage with brands? The editor-in-chief is morphing into a type of CEO, orchestrating the work of many experts, from developers to SEO specialists, data analysts to insight gatherers and commercial specialists, towards one common goal.
Managing Editor, Air Canada enRoute, Montreal
More than ever, an editor-in-chief has the power to shape a conversation. That is a privilege, and understanding and mastering it will become increasingly important in finding and developing an audience. The challenge for editors has always been to get readers to come back day after day; now readership has morphed into a community, and trust plays a big role in why they come back. If technology enables media brands to stay in people’s lives all day long, it’s the editor that shapes the messages that keep anyone truly close. Editors-in-chief have to learn to nurture and feed their readership community, playing across a range of media. They have to know how to tell the same story, differently, in both a 30-second post on social media and an in-depth feature. Embracing media technology means curating persuasion, and the editor-in-chief of the future will have the role of starting the conversations we need to have as we face the big sustainability challenges we’re facing.
Chief Content Officer, London
The best new editors-in-chief will champion a true publishing mindset – with strong leadership, a sharp creative instinct, an openness to new ideas, and a powerful point of view. It’s really nothing new. Publishers have always known that this is the secret of audience growth and engagement. Brands, however, have been nervous to move into a truly editorial space. But this is changing – brands now realise they can have a global voice, a standpoint, and the power to influence. They just need the experience of an editor-in-chief to orchestrate their message.
Managing Editor, APEX Media, Montreal
How far ahead are we talking about? I think the editor’s role will always be to identify a voice that represents their publication or platform and sets it apart from others. What’s changing is how the editor adapts to the evolving environment of new technology and changing attitudes toward media: Will the story be better told through a smartspeaker or in a choose-your-own adventure format? Is the feature inclusive enough? Do we love data, do we hate it? Whatever the debate of the day is, the editor’s role will be more or less the same even as images flash across lenses sitting on our eyeballs and text is read to us privately through micro speakers lodged deep in our ears. If we’re talking about the distant future, then the editor’s role will be to outsmart and take down potential bots.
Do you need help applying an editorial lens to your brand’s communications strategy? Learn how Bookmark can help you develop customized content programs that resonate with your audience and drive engagement.