Publishing Title Inflation
Bill Jacobson and Glenn Reynolds seem to be overly amused that Conor Friedersdorf has the title of "senior editor" over at Andrew Sullivan's blog.
Bill Jacobson and Glenn Reynolds seem to be overly amused that Conor Friedersdorf has the title of “senior editor” over at Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Why, Jacobson wonders, does a blog need an editor? And who is he senior to, anyway?
But it’s actually a pretty common title for people in the publishing industry and, contrary to the obvious implications of the words which make it up, the persons holding it are seldom senior and hardly ever actually edit anything.
If you look at the masthead of The Atlantic — which hosts Sully’s blog and thus employs him and Conor — you’ll get a flavor for how titles work.
There’s a Chairman, President, Publisher, and various VPs and Associate Publishers. These people run the business side of the magazine.
The Editor, James Bennet, runs the creative operation. Sometimes, this person is called the Editor-in-Chief.
Below him, there’s a Deputy Editor, an Editorial Director, a Literary Editor, four Deputy Managing Editors, and an Art Director.
Next come the Senior Editors. They’re not editors at all but rather established writers who answer to all the people already mentioned in some fashion or other. There are fifteen of them. Including, oddly, Andrew Sullivan and not Conor Friedersdorf. (He, along with Patrick Appel, are simply listed under “The Daily Dish.”)
There are then four National Correspondents: Mark Bowden, James Fallows, Jeffrey Goldberg, Robert D. Kaplan. It’s not obvious what makes them different from Senior Editors; they’re all writers. And all of them are more prestigious members of the staff than most of the Senior Editors, so I’m not sure why they come later in the masthead. Or, for that matter, why Sullivan and fellow Senior Editor Michael Kinsley aren’t here instead.
There are dozens of people with sundry other titles, including bloggers Megan McArdle and Marc Ambinder, who used to be Senior Editors but have become Business & Economics Editor and Politics Editor, respectively. It’s again not clear why they’re not listed higher on the masthead, since they’re presumably senior to the Senior Editors.
Way down the list, we get to the Contributing Editors. These, generally speaking, are simply writers who don’t actually work for the magazine but who either publish there frequently enough to merit mention or have published there in the past and are well known enough that the magazine wants to have the association listed.