Holistic approach to editing: Read through the whole story, then focus on details

Alumnus offers editing tips to communications students

Marlena Chertock

MARCH 16, 2011

Sometimes she has three hours to work on a story and other times three minutes. But Assistant Director of University Relations for Alumni Communications Kristen Simonetti always reads through a story first and then edits it in more detail.

Simonetti, who graduated from Elon in 2005, offered editing tips to communications students on Wednesday, March 16, 2011.

“I try to take a holistic approach to editing,” Simonetti said. “I like to look at the whole thing, not little pieces until the very end.”

Graphic by Marlena Chertock.

When she edits, she cuts up a story and tapes it back together. It’s a very visual way to show a better way to organize a story, she said.

Simonetti explained how important it is to have an open line of communication with editors and writers. Editors should treat reporters with respect, she said.

“The worst thing you can do as an editor is make an arbitrary change to a story without talking to the reporter,” she said.

Editors should have conversations with reporters about their stories. Working on a story together in a workshop is important, Simonetti said.

“It’s nice to have outside colleague or editor to be able to see and say what would be better and clearer for a story,” she said. “It’s also important for writers to keep an open mind. Editors are not trying to tear reporters down. They’re there to make work even better.”