The newspapper, also known as the Public Editor, is the person (usually a woman) in the newsroom who decides what news is worthy of being printed and what is not. They’re often involved from the start of the story until the end, weighing up the competing demands of their editors, and deciding which stories are best suited to be given prominent front page coverage. If you have ever seen the front page of any newspaper, you will have noticed that it isn’t just the columns and pictures that decide what is printed there, it is the stance of the newspaper’s writers take when making a decision. This role is known as the newspapper’s ‘conscience’. This article will explain how this person’s decisions are influenced by the same forces that shape the news and the way the public perceive events and situations through the media.
When the Public Editor sits down to write the final post on the day of the end of the current year, she has to take into account not only the contents of the paper but the public’s mood as well. For example, if there is already mass public dissatisfaction with a government policy, the Public Editor will need to wait until after the policy has been officially introduced and enacted before publishing a review of it. Similarly, if there is likely to be a general election within the next few months, she may need to wait until after the result has been announced. Sometimes she is even forced to wait for a special election – for example, when the Prime Minister of Canada is due to stand for re-election.
In most cases though, the newspapper has no choice but to wait for the events described in the previous days to be finalized. For this she uses a special type of magic forking whip (a two-headed fork) and then waiting until the end of the article to perform the forking process. This is called the ‘winding-up’ or the ‘postpone’ process. In fact, in some ways the role of the newspapper is even more important than that of the editor since the latter writes and then promptly puts down what she has written. On the other hand, the newspapper must keep an eye on the mood of the crowd, keep the paper interesting and informative all through the day and night, and ensure that no mistakes slip past her.
Today, many newspapers are outsourcing their role as the Public Editor to freelance writers and experts who are much more adept and qualified to do the job than the conventional Public Editor. The role of the freelance PR writer/expert is very much similar to that of the regular PR Officer. Except that he or she doesn’t work for a newspaper or a broadcasting station. Rather, he or she is an expert with one particular media organisation that needs him or her to ensure that the news they have just broke is being accurately reported by the various channels and outlets. The days of the regular PR officer are long gone, today there are many freelancers who specialise in a wide range of subjects and sectors and who are proficient enough to handle both editing and writing responsibilities.
The job of a newspapper therefore is not as easy as it may seem on paper. In order to be a successful newspapper one has to understand the changing face of PR, change and mould it to your advantage, whilst maintaining a good rapport with your media contacts at the same time. But then, if you have been a successful newspapper over the years then there is no reason why you should not continue with the same pace and just sharpen your claws instead of cutting your losses.
Today, the role of a newspapper is no more restricted to just reporting the latest news from your institution or organisation. Nowadays, people have become so much dependent on the online news that they look for the latest scoop from all over the world before they even set foot into a newsagents. For this reason, you need to have a strong knowledge of social networking, internet and technology as these are the mediums through which people not only get to know about the latest scoop but also get in touch with the person who is reporting the news. A good Newspapster needs to be well versed with all these aspects in order to be a success.