Roles within print journalism

Photograph of newspaper editorials

Editorials express the newspaper's opinion on an issue and are written by the editor

An editor is the ‘boss’ of a newspaper and is ultimately responsible for what is published. Editors oversee the work of all the newspaper staff. They allocate space for articles, photographs, advertisements, etc and decide which stories make it into each edition.

Editors are responsible for newspaper's editorial voice, and often write editorial ‘leaders’ - opinion pieces placed in the editorial section usually at the end of the news pages.

A news-editor oversees the news content of each edition. They will assign stories to reporters, liaise with the sub-editing and photography departments, and decide the priority and importance of news articles. They will also check for legal and ethical issues in a journalist’s copy.

A photographer takes photographs to record news and current events. Many photographers are freelance. That means they do not work for any one organisation, but sell their images to several media outlets. Reporters can also be freelance.

A reporter writes stories on a range of topics including news, politics, sports, culture and entertainment. Some are correspondents which means they specialise in a field, such as sport, health, crime, business or education. Others are feature writers who cover topics in more depth or write human-interest stories.

A sub-editor ensures that all copy reads well and is grammatically and factually correct. They edit stories to meet word limits. They design page layouts and write headlines and picture captions.

One of the roles of a sub-editor is to write captions for photos. Captions are short, snappy soundbites of 15–25 words. Captions help readers to understand the photo. They tell the reader what the photo itself can’t.