What is a City Editor?

M.C. Huguelet

A city editor oversees the production of a newspaper’s local news section. Sometimes also known as a metro editor, her primary duties include managing a team of city reporters, conceiving and assigning stories, and editing first drafts of assigned stories. In some cases, she may also write headlines and configure her section’s layout. She generally works under the supervision of a managing editor, and may liaise with staff from other departments to secure artwork or discuss the overall content of the paper. While a city editor does not necessarily need a journalism degree, she usually must have several years of newspaper experience.

A city editor is the person in charge of the local news section of a newspaper.
A city editor is the person in charge of the local news section of a newspaper.

The city editor acts as team leader to a group of city reporters. She must maintain an up-to-the-minute knowledge of all local happenings and decide which of these should receive coverage in her section. Next, she converts these happenings into well-defined story ideas, which she then assigns to her reporters.

A journalism degree may be useful for an aspiring city editor.
A journalism degree may be useful for an aspiring city editor.

As her reporters complete first drafts of their stories, the city editor must review their work, ensuring that each article is clearly written and does not leave the reader with unanswered questions. Poorly written stories may be returned to the reporter for improvement. Depending on the size of the newspaper, she may also write headlines to accompany these stories as well as physically arrange her section’s layout. At larger newspapers, articles which have been preliminarily reviewed by the city editor are generally passed along to copy editors for further editing and fact-checking. The articles are then returned to the city editor, who looks them over again before sending them on to be typeset.

Generally, a city editor works under the supervision of a managing editor, who oversees the day-to-day production of the newspaper as a whole. She may be required to meet regularly with the managing editor as well as her fellow section editors to discuss the paper’s overall shape and content and to brainstorm “big picture” ideas for its sections. Often, she must also meet with staff from the visual departments of the paper to source artwork and discuss layout.

While a degree in journalism may be useful to a city editor, it is not necessarily a prerequisite for the position. Most employers do, however, require editors to have a bachelor’s degree in some field. Some city editors might find that a degree in an area such as political science or sociology may actually provide the best foundation for covering metropolitan news. No matter her educational background, a metro editor must possess excellent writing and editing skills. In most cases, she must also have approximately five to ten years of professional newspaper experience to be eligible for the position.

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Discussion Comments


A good city editor also knows his/her reporter's strengths and weaknesses and tries to assign stories accordingly. Plus, he or she is well served by a strong connection to the community, which can come in handy when a reporter is being stonewalled by city officials, for instance. A savvy city editor knows who to call to get the information.

A good city editor also knows how to use the news budget so the desk isn't looking for stories at the last minute, with no idea how to fill the space. They can stretch the budget to make sure every edition has good copy.

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