Eric May – Media Consultant




Persuading a producer or editor

• Why do editors only think it’s a story when its in the newspaper or on the wire service?

• How do I convince an editor that an element is (or isn’t) important?

• The editor thinks the story is worth more (or less) than I do. How do I convince them?

• I’m the expert on the story and the editor isn’t. Why doesn’t the editor trust my judgment?


Principle: If you want to succeed in getting what you want from an editor, first understand the editor’s job.



“It's about time”

An editor’s job is about managing time and resources. 

While your story is the most important to you, editors have to deal with 20 to 40 other stories that day.

To make a change, the timing is important. If you ask the editor five hours before the newscast or deadline, he only has to make a few changes.

If you ask three hours before the newscast, he may have to change 15 things to help you. 

If you ask in the last hour before the newscast, he may have to change as many as 25 things to help just you.



Good editors and producers are driven by fear

Many good editors and producers are driven by fear- the competitive fear of being beaten on a story. Editors are under constant pressure from their bosses (and from themselves) to win. 

Maybe you told them about a story yesterday, and they didn’t want it. Today it’s in the newspaper and they suddenly want it immediately. Why?

It’s because now every other station and newspaper has it. Yesterday they had a choice, today they don’t.

They are under much more competitive pressure to do the story after it’s been in the newspaper or on another channel.

Recognize that while editors have an extremely difficult job, many feel they don’t get the credit they deserve. 

Far from being “all powerful”, most editors and producers are stuck in the middle. Every day, their boss is barking at them from above and the reporters are biting them on the bottom.

Understanding this psychology will help you get what you want from an editor.



How to get what you want from your editor or producer

- Don’t waste time
Keep your argument short. Use only your strongest points. Leave the rest out.

- Pay attention to the timing
You are more likely to get what you want earlier in the day than late in the day up against the deadline.

- Use competition as a weapon
If the editor doesn’t don’t want to do your story, say “OK, but... the other stations have it, it will be in the paper tomorrow. If we do it today, we get it first.”

- Listen to the editor
If the editor’s ideas make sense, include them in your story. Very importantly, show the editor that his ideas are in the finished story.

- Positive reinforcement
If the editor’s idea made the story better, tell them and thank them. This will have a positive effect on the editor, who recognizes someone is listening.

- Occasionally do a story your editor wants 
Ask the editor if there is a story that he always wanted done? Do the story the editor suggests. When you need help from the editor, remind the editor you helped him.

- Don’t be a pain
Show the editor you can deliver a reasonably well-done story with a minimum amount of trouble.

- Choose your battles
Some things are worth fighting for. By all means fight for the things you believe in. But everything shouldn’t be a battle. If you don’t wear the editor out every time, he’ll be more willing to listen if you really need something important.