How to Become a

Newspaper Editor

The complete career guide to be a Newspaper Editor: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $64,910
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -5.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute
  • Fast Paced Career
    Career Attribute

For the most part, newspaper editors are responsible for the success of a newspaper. They assign stories to reporters, ensure submitted stories are factually accurate and appropriate for publication, and determine which stories appear on the most-viewed pages of the newspaper, such as the front page.

Recommended Schools

What is a Newspaper Editor?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in newspaper editor roles:

  • Maintain a list of stories for publication, make decisions on pitched story viability, and assign stories to reporters
  • Review submitted stories for clarity and factual accuracy and request edits as appropriate
  • Make decisions on where stories should appear within the newspaper and on the paper’s website, if applicable
  • Make layout decisions, choose which images should accompany stories, and ensure all legal requirements are met for all images and referenced sources

A Day in the Life

A job as a newspaper editor is a busy one. Newspaper editors are responsible for all of the content that appears in a published paper, so a newspaper’s editors are really in charge of the paper’s success. Some part of a newspaper editor’s day will be spent reviewing pitches and local happenings to determine what stories should be covered. After determining a variety of potential topics, newspaper editors assign stories to reporters. They may also be responsible for hiring reporters.

When stories start coming in, editors must review the stories and make sure they’re appropriate for publication. They ensure that the content is appropriate, compelling, and factually accurate. They also choose which images should accompany stories and make sure than all story content and images have received necessary approvals and releases to keep the content compliant with laws and regulations.

Once content is chosen for publication in the printed paper or on the paper’s website, the editor determines layout and placement of included stories. The newspaper editor determines what sections of the paper that articles should appear in and what stories should appear on the front page. The editor may also need to make final cuts of stories when there isn’t enough room in the paper for everything or when breaking news must be included and other stories need to be bumped.

Typical Work Schedule

Because news occurs 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, newspaper editors are usually required to work all shifts, all days of the week. However, shifts worked will generally be consistent—a daytime editor will work first shift, an evening editor will work second shift, and a weekend editor covers weekend shifts.

Newspaper Editor Specializations

For smaller newspapers, editors may need to perform several of the roles described below. However, at larger publications, editor roles are commonly split amount the following positions:

  • Assistant editors generally execute all editorial responsibilities but for only one section of a newspaper—such as features or sports—rather than the entire newspaper. Assistant editors may also provide editorial coverage for slower news days and shifts.
  • Assignment editors choose what stories will appear in the paper, review and accept or decline story pitches submitted by reporters, and assign story coverage to different staff reporters.
  • Managing editors perform all editing responsibilities but may also hire reporters and editors and manage a group of assistant editors. Managing editors may also be responsible for managing a budget.
  • Executive editors are responsible for the entire content of the newspaper. They hire all levels of editors and reporters in conjunction with other management staff and are responsible for managing the newspaper’s overall budget.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Reporter, Assistant Editor
  • Mid-Career: Assignment Editor, Managing Editor
  • Late Career: Executive Editor

Typical Employers

Newspapers with the highest circulation numbers include The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In addition to these national publications, most cities and towns have local newspapers and hire editors to manage paper and website content. Local papers with large circulation numbers include the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Newspaper Editor

Most newspaper editors begin their careers as reporters. Most newspapers require reporters to have bachelor’s degrees in journalism, though in some cases other writing degrees are acceptable. Reporters can work for a specific publication or as freelancers for multiple publications. Additionally, reporters may write stories for both physical copies of newspapers and news websites. After getting several years of experience as a reporter, you may be qualified to move into editing roles.

Most newspaper editors start off in assistant editor or copy editor roles. If successful in those roles, you may qualify to move into assignment or managing editor roles. At the mid-level career step, being able to prove that you’ve been successful is critical in securing new positions, so you’ll need to have a record of increased subscriptions, increased newspaper purchases, or increased website views in order to highlight your abilities in choosing stories and garnering interest in the publication.

As an alternative, some people are able to build careers as freelance reporters with no formal education. Requirements for freelance reporters are less stringent, and with a portfolio of powerful pieces written as a freelance reporter, you may be able to work your way up into editor roles without a bachelor’s degree. However, a degree will provide education on legal obligations for reporters and publishers, and having that background knowledge can help avoid legal troubles later in your career.

Newspaper Editor Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Newspaper Editor salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Newspaper Editor's can make an average annual salary of $64,910, or $31 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $39,690 or $19 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #229 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Newspaper Editor. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Newspaper Editors

  • 4.7%   Doctorate
  • 19.3%   Masters
  • 59%   Bachelors
  • 4.3%   Associates
  • 9.1%   College
  • 3.1%   High School
  • 0.5%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Newspaper Editor job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -6,200 jobs for a total of 111,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -5.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #703 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Newspaper Editors

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Newspaper publishers 19,400 -6,700 -7%
Self-employed workers 15,900 500 1%
Other information services 6,700 1,000 1%

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