Newspapers and Magazines Career Field Structure
The newspaper and magazine publishing industries are made up of several departments that work together to produce a publication, whether it is in print or electronic form. In most cases these departments are editorial, sales, production, circulation, and promotions. Since most papers are published daily, the work is fast-paced and exciting. Careers available in the newspaper industry differ from those in the magazine industry in content, but they share many common features. From writing a story to soliciting an advertisement, producing a newspaper or magazine involves a great deal of coordination. Following are descriptions of each department and how they differ in the newspaper and magazine industries.
The editorial or news department of a daily newspaper generally is divided by subject area: city desk, national/foreign desk, news/copy desk (where stories are edited and decisions made about what goes into the main news section), editorial page, opinion page, features, arts and entertainment, business and financial, real estate, sports, graphics (picture desk, photo department, art department), and Sunday magazine. Supervising these areas are the editor or editor in chief, the managing editor, and one or more assistant managing editors.
Depending on the size of the publication, there are usually a number of reporting, writing, and editing positions. In covering and interpreting the community, the nation, and the world for their readers, newspapers employ general assignment reporters, beat reporters (covering, for example, the police department, city hall, county building, federal building, and various courts), rewrite staff (who work in the office developing stories by telephone and writing them with the help of reporters on the scene), copy editors (who edit copy for style and accuracy and write headlines), specialists (including investigative reporters and consumer, education, labor, science, medical, urban affairs, political, and religion writers), and bureau reporters (assigned to nearby communities, the state capital, or foreign posts). Larger newspapers have offices in several domestic and foreign cities. They also employ foreign correspondents, cartoonists, feature writers, columnists and critics, business and financial writers, news photographers, wire editors, photo editors, artists, news and layout editors, and editorial assistants.
An editorial staff member at a magazine may have intricate and unpredictable responsibilities. The editorial department is responsible for having a complete awareness of its audience and works closely with the art department on the overall artistic presentation of the publication. Magazines generally fall into the following categories: consumer, trade, association, special interest, and professional and technical.
A large editorial department may have an editor in chief, senior editors, associate editors, assistant editors, copywriters, researchers, proofreaders, art directors, graphic designers, photo editors, photographers, internet editors, and webmasters on staff. Smaller magazines may have a few key full-time editorial positions and hire others as temporary, part-time, or freelance help as needed. Most magazines use outside writers and contributors for at least some of their editorial content.
Advances in desktop publishing allow many small companies and institutions to write, design, and print publications at a relatively low cost. Job functions are often combined; for example, an editor may also be responsible for some page layout and proofreading duties.
The production department is responsible for the finished magazine or newspaper. The production staff makes sure that the editors, artists, photographers, and salespeople submit their articles, pictures, and ads in final form by designated deadlines.
A newspaper production department is divided basically into the composing room, where the pages are assembled and made up as specified by the editorial and advertising departments, and the pressroom, where the paper is printed. Such a process involves putting the words into type, laying out (designing) the pages, making photographic or electronic plates of the pages, and operating the press.
Magazine production departments coordinate the design, layout, and printing of the publication. Employees in this department make sure that all text and illustrations are marked properly, are in the correct computer file formats, and are ready to be sent to the printer. Production workers negotiate prices with the printer and inspect color and print quality. Close contact with the printer must be maintained to ensure that quality is preserved despite tight production schedules.
The sales departments in both the newspaper and magazine industries are crucial to the survival of a publication. Advertising is responsible for some 75 to 80 percent of a newspaper’s revenue. Local advertising accounts for the largest portion of newspaper ad revenue. In the magazine industry, advertising accounts for almost half of the industry’s total revenues.
Advertising is divided into display and classified departments. The display segment is further divided into national advertisements (usually placed through agencies) and local advertisements, which the sales force seeks out. National advertisers and large local operations submit advertising copy to publications; however, newspapers and magazines may offer simple design services to smaller advertisers. Larger newspapers and magazines maintain advertising sales offices in several cities.
Newspapers have more general audiences, so their sales forces have a wider range of possible advertisers. Magazine ad salespeople often focus on selling space to advertisers who want to reach the specific audience their magazine serves.
Once a newspaper or magazine is printed, it is up to the circulation department to get it to the reader in the most efficient and cost-effective way. The department may also develop sales and subscription contests and incentives.
Newspaper circulation income from street sales, home delivery, and mail subscriptions provides 20 to 25 percent of the newspaper’s total revenue.
Magazine circulation departments are involved with subscriptions and newsstand displays, the two major ways that magazines are sold. Circulation workers handle subscription problems and other concerns. They work with both the postal system for direct delivery and shipping companies for delivery to stores.
The promotions department helps increase both advertising and readership. Promotions workers help organize contests, subscription offers, and other incentives to publicize a magazine. Publishers use market research to determine the target audience and identify demographics, such as the age, income, location, education, spending habits, and interests of the average reader. Market research also provides valuable information on the magazine’s competition and other issues. This information helps promotions workers develop campaigns to reach new readers, get subscribers to renew their subscriptions, and encourage advertisers to run regular ads.