Sunday, February 2, 2014

How the Editor-Writer Relationship Should Work

Ben Smith:

BuzzFeed executive editor Doree Shafrir and I started talking about hiring a “longform” editor in the spring of 2012, at the urging of our most experienced writer, Michael Hastings. Michael had just filed a 3,800-word profile of the writer Jose Antonio Vargas, and I gave it the sort of edit that I had learned in a decade of political reporting: I sharpened the top; took out a couple of really egregious barbs; made a tweak here and there, and put it on the page.

Michael was appalled. Half of the things he’d written, he explained to me, didn’t belong in the story — he’d put one passage in so the editor would cut it, rather than a more cherished section; others were tentative and preliminary and he wasn’t sure where they were supposed to fit. The story, as he’d filed it, was the beginning of a conversation with his editor, not something that he expected to see on the internet.