Imagine that you have to organize a restaurant as a manager… of course you know very well how you want you place: Service, food, ambiance, decoration, etc, etc.
So you hire the best team in the world to create the ultimate place, you got the waitress captain, who will build his team; the maintenance supervisor, he will tell you how much people he needs; the administration guys; interior designers; entertainers; and of course The CHEF.
Each area have its own intern structure and organization, its by the way not your job to be the best electrician, but to the maintenance guys to know who is, of course you will see obvious problem if a light do not goes on.
Lets say that your Master Chef, had hire some guys who know how to make cakes, he had bring them from all the corners of the world because they are famous and awarded on pastry. And they have worked in your place granted for you several prices and recognition internationally.
Would you go there and tell them: Hey you, “I DON’T LIKE CINNAMON in the pastry!”… You would be doing “gastronomic hara kiri” and probably compromising you restaurant prestige with such decision. In Mexico a good friend would tell you: “Shoemaker, go to your shoes” Meaning: You take care of your area of expertise and let the guys who know the other to take care of that in which you are not a specialist.
This a a very common situation in Newspapers: Art directors trying to lead editorial, editors trying to create new graphic styles, Marketing pushing for less content and more ads (they will sell ANYTHING even the logo if they can make profit*) etc.
I was that manager in some stage, I was editor in charge for the department of “NEW EDITORIAL PRODUCTS” in a newspaper, and I was trying to do everything, one day one of the of directors called me and give one of the best managerial advises ever: “Shoemaker, make your shoes” “You don’t need to be the best designer neither the best editor, your function is to know WHO is the best and make sure he is doing so”
For me it made nonsense, “HOW can I lead them If I’m not better than them?” but this is where specialization comes on scene.
As a good restaurant, newspaper had specialist and very well defined areas with very specific functions.
Lets take a general view of the most basic departments and their most basic tasks and needs:
- 1: Editorial: It is the responsible of collect and produce content, as well to lead the whole newspaper. Editorial team is the head, they should know to where they want to take the publication. They are legally and morally accountable for each letter so is very important nobody mess with their content. They know the pulse of the area of publication and what info is worth, basic structure:
a) Editors-In-Chief: Drives the show, he/she settles the editorial identity.
b) Deputy or operative editor: They are the “hand” of the EiC
c) Editors: Each section should have one, who is the expert in this field, knowing everything related to their section.
d) Copy editors: They are the keepers of the editorial styles and grammar, making sure that all is be the book.
e) Reporters: They are the eyes and ears of the publication. They have to know perfectly the styles and must be versed in grammar.
f) Columnist: There is no newspaper without opinions, isn’t? they are expert in their field that base on analysis provide the reader with a informed point of view.
- 2: Design: Its the responsible of the readability of the product and to deliver the content to the right “audience”. Imagine a super modern looking newspaper that talks about elder people health…? structure:
a) Art Director: Lead the team and decide the way it should look defining styles based in psychological projections of symbols (colours, structure, proportions and typo styles have symbolic meanings) and methods of enhance the communication process; also define the quality standard for the publication.
b) Graphic Editor: Produce ideas, organize the team, and keeps the styles and coordinate the flow of content.
c) Designer: Create visual concept that will transmit the mood of the concept and organizing big amount of info into that “tiny” pages. They should be focus in front pages and features. It is advisable as with editors to have one per section and to chose a designer who is well versed on this are (sports, showbiz, etc)
d) Page makers: Experts in layout, they take care of the fast elaboration of the regular pages.
e) Illustrators: The creation of “functional-art” its a real art… they take a concept chew it and spite out and abstraction of symbols universally comprehensible that will tell you an story in seconds if not fraction of it.
d) Infographic artist: They are the READERS AND EDITORS BEST FRIENDS, they shredder complex information and explain it “with apples**” if necessary. They will struggle and work for several to understand this info and translate it into a diagram that the reader will understand in minutes and effort free.
- 3: Photography: They need no explanation; but there is field of specialization: Breaking news, fashion, sports, politics, etc. They produce almost a third (half in some beautiful publications) of all the information.
a) Photo director: Organize the team, and settles the quality standard.
b) Photo editor: Select the best images, gives assignments and make sure the designers DON’T MESS the edition of the picture.
c) Photographers: Lens artist they are the eyes of the readers and take him to where he/she can’t go.
I will talk about production and marketing in another post.
As you can see, there is no way any area overlap in functions whit any other, they have to Interact as a orchestra to create everyday a powerful new symphony.
*We all should love marketing guys, somehow they fetch our salaries.
** In Mexico in first grade of elementary school, teachers use huge illustration in the walls to teach maths, (1+1=2) is represented with apples. So when saying “explain with apples” means to explain in a way a 6 years old kid will get it.