What Is A Managing Editor and What Do They Do?

If you’re working in publishing or content marketing, you’ve probably heard the term “managing editor.”

If you’re like me, you’ve heard it a lot but you still aren’t quite sure what “managing editor” refers to and what their job role is.

This is completely understandable, because like most words in the marketing space the term can have many meanings.

  • Sometimes Managing Editor is meant to describe the role and its duties.
  • Sometimes Managing Editor simply connotes seniority.
  • Sometimes, it’s both.

In fact, probably the best way to think about “managing editor” is to view it similarly to “content editor” when trying to define it.

The difference really comes down to whether the role is inside a traditional publisher or not.

Managing Editors In Publishing

In traditional publishing, such as a newspaper or magazine, a Managing Editor is often the person in charge of what ultimately goes to print.

The Managing Editor is usually responsible for a section of the newspaper, such as the Sports Editor, or a few sections. They work under the Editor In Chief, sometimes known as the Executive Editor like at the New York Times, who is ultimately responsible for everything going out of the publication’s newsroom.

Managing Editors are often responsible for any or all of the following:

  • Editorial strategy
  • Helping journalists and writers produce their best work
  • Writing from time to time
  • Working with external partners and independent journalists to augment the existing newsroom
  • Driving audience
  • Driving social and promotional strategy to get more audience reading pieces produced

Managing editors are often responsible for being on the leading edge of the topic, identifying what will be interesting to readers and push the newsroom forward, and then finding and working with writers to produce something that leads the conversation.

Managing Editors In Content Marketing

Content marketing companies usually don’t have managing editors. Instead, content agencies have content managers who are responsible for the strategy behind the content programs. They are then responsible for finding writers, creating briefs, and ultimately making sure that the brief is followed and the content achieves the client’s ultimate goal. A client’s ultimate goal is usually either revenue or leads (that then turn into revenue).

That said, even though a content manager is usually in charge of specific clients and for the overall quality and performance of content, that does not mean they are doing it all!

Content managers should be supported by:

  • Content strategists, who help the content manager create the strategy behind the content being produced
  • Writers, especially subject-matter experts, who are writing the content as authoritative experts
  • Editors, especially copy editors and proofreaders, who make sure the content is on-brand and ready for publishing.

Content takes a full team, and the content manager is just one part of the equation as they’re being supported by the rest of the team.

Different Between A Content Manager And A Managing Editor

As you’ve seen, the difference between a managing editor and a content manager is whether they work at a publication or at an agency. Employees responsible for content in-house are most often called content managers, unless the content team is built like a publishing newsroom in which case the lead may be called a Managing Editor! This was the case for Zillow.com, where I spent a few years working.

You should also note that jobs may have the same title, but have wide ranging duties. There is no standardization in the content industry, and thus if you’re applying for managing editor jobs or hiring for a managing editor or content manager, you should look carefully at the role for what it includes.

What Is An Editor In Chief?

An Editor In Chief, or Executive Editor, is the most senior person in the newsroom at a publication. They are ultimately responsible for the direction of the newsroom, the style and tone of the overall publication, and they oversee all of the Managing Editors as they oversee their own sections of the publication.

How Much Do Managing Editors Make?

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a Managing Editor is $67,795 per year. They also say that most Managing Editors receive an additional $31,143 per year in additional pay, such as benefits, which brings a Managing Editor’s average total compensation per year to $98,938 per year as of June 2022.

There is wide variability in Managing Editor salaries of course. In our investigation of Managing Editor jobs on Glassdoor, we saw jobs titled Managing Editor ranging from $37,927 per year for a small agency to $145,017 as the Managing Editor for Yahoo. All other jobs fell in between these two.

Managing Editor Job Description

Here are a few Managing Editor job descriptions we found online.

Fandango (part of NBC Universal)

The Managing Editor role will report directly to the Director, Content Strategy. This role will drive editorial decisions for Rotten Tomatoes, which includes, but is not limited to, managing editorial calendars, leading daily pitch meetings, and representing the brand and organization in all mediums.

As part of the team, this member will use excellent writing, communication, and management skills, and have experience with site & platform monitoring tools to analyze and report on traffic, conversations, and other Key Performance Indicators.

Guerrero (Book and Periodical Publishing in Chicago IL)

The Managing Editor of Profile oversees the voice, editorial structure, content diversification, and development of the brand, while ensuring adherence to Guerrero’s writing standards, production efficiency, sponsored content, and client satisfaction protocol.

A true editor and project manager, the Managing Editor works with the Special Projects Editor and balances the needs of key internal and external stakeholders—such as brand audience, featured executives, and sponsoring advertisers—and creates significant and impactful editorial that maintains the caliber of work produced by Guerrero.

Reporting directly to the editorial director, the managing editor works with the special projects editor to integrate traditional editorial and sponsored content in a cohesive way, creating engaging work that caters to and drives Profile’s digital audience growth.

Managing Editor, Spoon University

We are looking for an editor with a passion for food and their finger on the pulse of Gen Z to join our team full time as the site lead overseeing Spoon University, supporting national writers and part-time edit staff and working alongside the social media editor and branded content manager.

In this role as the editorial leader for Spoon University, you will oversee all SpoonUniversity.com national editorial content, manage and mentor Spoon national writers, grow traffic and engagement, execute special editorial projects, and continually innovate on and implement processes and practices to ensure smooth editorial operations. We are looking for someone with top-notch editing skills and news judgment who is adept at managing other editors, capable of taking big editorial projects and packages from ideation through execution, and is also comfortable with (and enjoys) traffic analysis and making data-driven decisions to drive growth.

This is an ideal opportunity for a creative, organized self-starter who is passionate about food and Gen Z and who is excited to sink their teeth into a big project, with the ability to influence editorial direction for a brand entering a new chapter after its recent acquisition by Her Campus Media. Most importantly, candidates must be driven by Spoon University’s mission of creating an approachable food community that helps readers build confidence in becoming a real adult, and inspiring the next generation of foodies and food journalists.

Need Copy Editing and Proofreading Help?

If you’re producing content for your own brand or for clients, part of the equation for producing top-notch content is copy editors and proofreaders. If you’re building out your content program and want to discuss adding EditorNinja to the mix, schedule a free Editorial Assessment here.