Your Publication
The Editorial Department
Your Publication

The editorial department is responsible for pretty much everything that appears in your publication that isn't advertising. Its main goal is to report the news accurately and in a reader-friendly way.

The amount of news that appears in your newspaper usually has very little to do with what's newsworthy that day or week. Instead, it's typically based on a ratio of 60% advertising to 40% editorial.

Most newspapers simply add up all the advertising space that's been sold, determine what size newspaper would be needed just to accommodate the ads, and then determine how many pages editorial would need to supply to make up 40% of the newspaper. The editorial department then writes (or cuts) more copy to fit within that ratio.

Significantly less editorial than this and the publication will look too full of ads and start resembling a shopper publication. Any more editorial and there may not be enough advertising revenue to make a profit.

In fact, some in the business say this ratio of advertising to editorial is an easy way to determine how well your competition is doing.

Over the years, the advertising and editorial departments have been very separate entities, each contributing different elements to the final product, but not spending a lot of time with each other.

Much of this is based on the fact that advertisers often put pressure on advertising representatives in an effort to influence the editorial content.

For example, in the future you may encounter local businesses who, instead of purchasing advertising, or in addition to purchasing advertising, may ask you to make arrangements for an editorial story to run about their business. In fact, some advertisers, because of the money they spend with a particular newspaper, actually expect that a story about them be run with the paper from time to time.

Although your editorial department may actually be willing to run a story of newsworthiness on one of your advertisers, most won't write a story simply because the advertiser is spending a lot of money. In fact, your success as a salesperson hinges on the fact that your writers won't compromise the editorial integrity of the newspaper simply to make an advertiser happy. First and foremost, their job is to put out a quality product every day or week that people will read.

It's safe to assume that countless advertising salespeople have approached your editorial staff in the past to try to get a story in about one of their advertisers. So be extremely careful in both accepting anything from your advertisers related to the editorial side as well as approaching the editorial department about running a story on your advertisers.

When approached by an advertiser asking for help getting a story in your publication, explain to the advertiser that although their advertising revenue may pay the editorial staff's salaries, they have their own criteria regarding what is newsworthy. Don't give the advertiser any assurances that the story will get in, and certainly don't let them make the sale of the ad contingent upon a story being published. If you feel you have an advertiser with a newsworthy story about his business, ask your manager for guidance on how to introduce this to the editorial staff.

In my personal experience, I've found that most of the time a customer has a better chance of getting a story published if he approaches the editorial department himself. That way, the editorial department might not feel like they're compromising the editorial content to help out ad revenues.

Also, be prepared that some advertisers you talk to will get upset with things your editorial staff writes. There's not much you can do about it except tell them that although they might not agree with what's written in the newspaper at all times, people are reading it and responding to ads in it. After all, isn't that what's really important?

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