Sound Off Now About Daunting Editorial Workload

By Howard Rauch

Ask any editor about their current workload and you’re sure to get an earful. Tales of woe usually focus on the unfairness of triple-threat job descriptions involving print, web and digital publications. Individuals are quick to add that job descriptions have expanded in the face of staff cuts and salary freezes.

The truth is … nobody (yes, that includes top management) is happy about the situation. Further, the publishing industry is not alone in being walloped by the economy. The typical editor’s problem in making the case for relief is an inability to describe existing job functions quantitatively. In other words, how long does each facet of your job take to complete from start to finish in a given month?

This is no easy task. Different functions of a typical editorial job load may be spread out across several days into small time components. Melding the parts into a whole is challenging, to say the least.

Well … we really can’t wait any longer. A time-oriented performance study is long overdue. So I’ve decided to give it a shot. The objective of this study is not to bemoan our circumstances. Instead, we need to seek possible shortcuts that will speed job fulfillment. And I am inviting you to participate in a two-phase study that’s just begun.

Phase I involves completion of a questionnaire asking you to analyze your work schedule. Most of the 15 questions are easily answered. Others will require that you put on your thinking cap. For example, question (7) asks you – on the basis of 100 percent – to estimate the time component breakdown for print vs. web. Question (8) challenges you to create a multicategory job description for the web portion. In a preliminary meeting between me and ASBPE webmaster Martha Spizziri, we came up with a dozen possible categories. Now we’re interested in comparing notes with you. Question (11) is the toughest to tackle. Here is where you prioritize the list created in question (9) from most time-consuming down to least time-consuming. If you’re up to the challenge, we can work through the questionnaire together. Later on, in Phase II of the study, we’d have a follow-up interview to make sure everything’s been covered.

Here are other things you ought to know about this pioneer project:

(1) The results will be presented June 17 at an ASBPE webinar I am cohosting with fellow consultant John Bethune.

(2) Survey participants will receive a special tailored summary of study results.

Interested? For more information or to receive a copy of the questionnaire, call me at (201) 569-7714 or e-mail howard@editsol.com.

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