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Journalist Fellows' Papers

From commissioners to community builders

Reuters Institute Fellow's Paper

Editors as managers, commissioners, rewriters, and proofreaders are key figures in setting the direction and tone of a magazine. In her paper ‘From commissioners to community builders – four ways in which the digital age has changed the work of magazine editors’, Kati Toivanen, managing editor of Trendi magazine in Finland, examines how the role of an editor has been shaped anew by the profound changes taking place in journalism at large.

The paper classifies four emerging editorial roles that manifest different areas of change: the commercial editor, the digital editor, the community editor, and the (in)visible editor. Through examination of these roles, Toivanen explores topical questions, such as what happens to editorial integrity when native advertising and other commercial tasks gain more ground in editorial departments? How have the digital shift and the need for speed changed the editing process and goals of editing? How can the editor enhance audience participation? Toivanen argues that the variety of tasks and roles has broadened enormously but the core remains: editors are the ones who ensure quality and manage the recognizable voice of the magazine.

The more competition and platforms, the more important is the role of the editor. Toivanen concludes the paper with guidelines on the most topical issues for editors to get right in order to make a magazine thrive: 1) build a community, 2) be clear about sponsored content, and 3) edit for shareability.

As with all Fellows’ research papers, any opinions expressed are those of the author and not of the Institute.