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Get control of your own budget.

MANAGING TIME and money may seem like two distinct and separate problems, but the approaches to both are similar. The editor must manage both time and money with the strategy of motivating the staff. The writers, in turn, will do the best job for the paper and, most important, for the readers.

Get control of your own budget. This is the first, last, and most important commandment for editorial page editors. Many editors get little, or minimal, involvement in developing their budgets. Such circumstances are a formula for disaster. This is a critical point, because setting your own financial agenda gives you and your staff the wherewithal to operate.

Convince the publisher or executive editor that the editorial page will work best if you can set a realistic list of budget requirements. Emphasize that you must be free to choose the most important ways in which to spend money, and that you must have the flexibility to move money around within the allotted budget.

This is a fight you have to win. All budgets get cut, but it's essential that you have the authority to decide what gets cut, and in what order. No one else knows as well as you how to spend the department's limited resources. No one else cares as much as you do. You have to live with the consequences.

Make sure to include potential professional and training opportunities, as well as some travel. Then, share the prosperity. Editorial writing is never easy, but when writers are confined to the office with no hope of professional development, they get tired and discouraged, and their work suffers.

This is no way to treat people. They are the heart of the page, just as the page is the conscience of the community. Take good care of the talented individuals you hire, give them a stimulating atmosphere, and they will do excellent work that exhilarates readers and makes the writers proud.

Make time to save time

Managing time wisely is the single most difficult job that editorial page editors face. You must periodically review and reinvent the good ideas you have, and throw out the bad ones that have not worked.

The benefits are immense if you can keep meetings to a reasonable length, end discussions that have come full circle or are going nowhere and, most of all, protect the writers' time for writing.

I think it works best to let one person on a small staff handle the editing of letters and other clerical work for a period of time, while the other writers concentrate on writing.

Then alternate and rotate the clerical assignments periodically -- perhaps a month at a time. This method works better than forcing all the writers to share the work every day. The drudgery is still drudgery, but it's more concentrated and lasts only a month at a time, rather than being a daily occurrence.

Free up writers to work on special assignments. Get them out of the building and let them feel there is more to life on the editorial page than long, boring meetings in which the same people give familiar, predictable views on a subject. Morale will improve.

Editorials don't always have to be serious. The work can be fun, too.

NCEW member Morgan McGinley is editorial page editor of The Day in New London, Conn.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Conference of Editorial Writers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Managing Time and Money; time and financial management
Author:McGinley, Morgan
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Words:556
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