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How to move from ‘editor’ to ‘coach’

Every editor must learn to fix stories, but fixing is not the same as coaching. Coaching is the human side of editing. In other words, the editor coaches the writer — but fixes the story.

Before an editor can successfully coach a reporter, you need to know who he or she is. A simple “getting to know you” interview with a reporter can reveal a lot of information that you can use to be a more effective coach. Consider asking a writer these questions:

  • What type of writer are you?
  • Are you a slow or fast writer? What part slows you down? When do you write quickly?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you approach the writing process? Do you need to write the lead first or can you jump over it to just get words on the screen?
  • Are you a plunger or a planner?

Taken from The Language of Coaching, a self-directed course by Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark at Poynter NewsU.

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Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager. She is the author of Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style and More – a self-directed e-learning course that consistently is ranked as one of the most popular courses at Poynter News University. Other work includes producing “Best Newspaper Writing,” the annual collection of the ASNE Distinguished Writing Award winners and finalists, and editing “Aim for the Heart,” a book by Poynter’s Al Tompkins for TV reporters and producers. You can follow her on Twitter at @vkrueger and @newsu.

(via Poynter)