What Does an Assignment Editor Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

The Balance / Ellen Lindner

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  • Assignment Editor Duties & Responsibilities

Assignment Editor Salary

  • Education, Training, & Certification
  • Assignment Editor Skills & Competencies

Job Outlook

Work environment, work schedule, comparing similar jobs.

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An assignment editor works at the assignment desk, which is the nerve center of any newsroom. This is where newsroom staff members monitor multiple sources for breaking news, including police and fire scanners. When possible news arises, the assignment editor works with reporters, photographers, producers, and other staff members to assign and develop story ideas.

Small companies sometimes have one assignment editor who is responsible for organizing the assignment desk to operate around the clock. In larger newsrooms, there may be a team of assignment editors that take turns staffing the desk.

Assignment Editor Duties & Responsibilities

The job generally requires the ability to perform the following duties:

  • Monitor multiple sources for possible news stories
  • Develop and propose a daily news coverage plan
  • Lead newsroom staff meetings to review possible stories and assignments
  • Help choose which journalists, photographers, and other staff members are assigned to cover stories
  • Stay on top of all stories to ensure they're developing as planned and determine which ones are not coming together
  • Be the main point of communication between reporters, production teams, and executive staff on developing stories

It's up to the assignment editor to assign people to investigate and report on news stories. The assignment editor's day is sometimes spent shifting people and equipment around so that as many stories get covered as possible, with an eye out on how to handle breaking news coverage at any moment.

When working in television, an assignment editor may also work with the tv producer to decide which crews will take live trucks or a helicopter to broadcast live during a newscast. Also, a TV news anchor who is reviewing scripts just before airtime will often turn to the assignment editor to confirm facts.

An assignment editor's salary can vary depending on location, experience, and employer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers salary data for the broader editor category, but it doesn't offer separate data on the assignment editor subcategory:

  • Median Annual Salary: $59,480 
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $114,460 
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $30,830  

Education, Training, & Certification

Most assignment editors have the same types of degrees as other editors and journalists in a newsroom.

  • Education: Most employers prefer candidates that have at least a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English. 
  • Experience: This is often key to getting this type of job, because experience is key to building a list of contacts and learning how to operate smoothly. Employers usually prefer candidates with a background in the type of media in which they specialize, whether it's television, digital, or print news.
  • Training: Most training happens on the job. Aspiring assignment editors may want to find an internship position at a newsroom assignment desk.

Assignment Editor Skills & Competencies

To be successful in this role, you’ll generally need the following skills and qualities: 

  • Editorial judgment: Assignment editors need to be able to quickly decide whether a story is newsworthy. And although they aren't usually writing the stories themselves, they need to know all of the components of a good news story to guide reporters on coverage.
  • Interpersonal skills: Successful assignment editors form relationships with many contacts that can help bring a story together. For example, someone in this role at a local TV news station may have all the county sheriffs' home telephone numbers on speed-dial and be on a first-name basis with the current and previous mayors.
  • Organizational skills: An assignment editor must be able to organize the logistics and track the details of several stories at a time and keep everything on schedule.
  • Communication skills: An assignment editor must skillfully communicate with all of the staff involved in making news stories come together, including reporters, photographers, production teams, and executive staff.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this field will grow 6 percent through 2026, which is slightly slower than the overall employment growth of 7 percent for all occupations in the country. The BLS it doesn't offer separate data on the assignment editor subcategory.

Most of this job is done in an office working under several tight deadlines at once. Those who thrive on pressure and get an adrenaline rush when something unexpected happens may be best suited for this occupation.

An assignment editor usually arrives in the newsroom earlier than the other managers to get a handle on what's happening that day to brief the newsroom. Most assignment editors work full time, and many work long hours, which include evenings and weekends.

People who are interested in becoming assignment editors may also consider other careers with these median salaries: 

  • Writers and authors: $61,820
  • Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts: $40,910
  • Desktop publishers: $42,350

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , 2017

How to Get the Job

Build a Contact List

Making a list of contacts is the best place to start for a budding assignment editor. That involves making personal connections with people so that you can turn to them when you need information.

Join a Professional Association

The American Media Institute offers  a list of professional associations you can join. Which one you choose may depend on your specialty or medium (websites or television, for instance). This will help you build your contact list and stay up to date on the latest tools and techniques in the industry.

Search job sites that specialize in media careers, such as MediaBistro and iHire Broadcasting .

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Assignment Editor Job Description

Assignment editor duties & responsibilities.

To write an effective assignment editor job description, begin by listing detailed duties, responsibilities and expectations. We have included assignment editor job description templates that you can modify and use.

Sample responsibilities for this position include:

Assignment Editor Qualifications

Qualifications for a job description may include education, certification, and experience.

Education for Assignment Editor

Typically a job would require a certain level of education.

Employers hiring for the assignment editor job most commonly would prefer for their future employee to have a relevant degree such as Bachelor's and Collage Degree in Journalism, Communications, Broadcast Journalism, Education, Associates, Social Media, Television, Broadcasting, Communication, Computer

Skills for Assignment Editor

Desired skills for assignment editor include:

Desired experience for assignment editor includes:

Assignment Editor Examples

  • Microsoft Word (.docx) .DOCX
  • PDF Document (.pdf) .PDF
  • Image File (.png) .PNG
  • The editor will be responsible for assigning and editing stories and running the news team for the first few hours on the 6 am shift
  • The editor will work close with colleagues on the video team to develop cross-platform packages
  • The editor will also report and write stories, either breaking news or features, usually in the second half of the day but sometimes during an early-morning news crunch
  • Open the NY breaking news desk at 6 am daily, assigning, editing and as needed writing stories to keep the site competitive and distinctive in its news coverage
  • Guide the development of stories from start to finish
  • Edit stories sharply and cleanly, ensuring they meet the overall editorial direction set for the site
  • Help reporters frame stories and focus reporting as needed
  • Write breaking news and feature stories
  • Conceptualize, create, develop, manage and edit content focused on a user-driven strategy that understands the nuances of packaging content for the web, mobile web, social and apps
  • Achieve established editorial goals and deadlines and ensure others do the same
  • Previous experience utilizing ENPS/OPUS news production software or similar software
  • Digital content skills in website and social platforms
  • Minimum of 2 years experience working as an assignment editor
  • Must be willing and able to work flexible hours , under tight deadline pressure, occasionally with little or no warning
  • Must be willing to work at WNJU headquarters in Ft
  • Have at least three years experience in digital journalism
  • Develop and maintain relationships with editorial and creative talent own sources
  • Receive and investigate news tips
  • Support newscast Producers
  • Responsible for listening to scanners
  • Responsible for coordinating multiple field crews
  • Bachelor’s Degree in journalism or communications background preferred
  • 2 years experience in a top 50 market newsroom
  • Knowledge of the San Diego area a plus
  • Responsibilities include managing all aspects of daily news coverage, assigning and tracking news crews, monitoring breaking news and online resources, developing sources in law enforcement and local government generating story ideas
  • Additional responsibilities include gathering news content for producers, editors, photographers, and managing editors, while working closely with other newsroom management
  • Deep knowledge of the NY/NJ/CT market is a must
  • Must be proficient on technology, PC/Mac softwares
  • Flexible to work all hours including evenings and weekends
  • Excellent communication skills and time management
  • Strong working knowledge of the CNN Newsgathering system, including satellites, package production, and affiliate relationships
  • Must be willing to work in the Houston area
  • The ideal candidate must be able to learn new technology independently and quickly, and be proficient with the following digital (or similar) tools, including MS Office, WordPress, mobile push notifications, SMS texting, video publishing, AP style, Photoshop and basic HTML knowledge is a plus
  • Utilize AP style, best web-production practices and story packaging
  • Works with Bureau management to ensure that the Bureau is covering the day's news stories and manages resources to make it happen effectively
  • Monitor a variety of sources, including wires and local news, and evaluate newsworthiness
  • Assign producer, reporters and crews to cover news stories
  • Ensure that stories make deadline/airtime making certain that reporters/producers are aware of and have all available elements
  • Monitor Bureau costs and keep NewsDesk information updated with regards to using crews and editors most appropriately
  • Work with show staffs and reporters on live shots and coverage of live events
  • Pitch stories for various CNN networks and platforms
  • Enterprise unique and compelling story ideas on a daily basis
  • Must have experience listening to police scanners
  • Minimum of two years of journalism experience
  • Must have a commitment to journalistic standards of ethics and accuracy
  • Minimum of one year of prior work experience on an assignment desk or in a newsroom
  • Strong editorial judgement a must
  • Familiar with Google applications
  • Manage multiple field crews and live assets
  • Interact with viewers, public information officers and media relations professionals
  • Gather information about news as it develops and communicate it effectively and accurately to the news and production team
  • Assign and coordinate the distribution of newsgathering equipment
  • Assist with publishing content on FOX43.com and social media
  • Represent FOX43 in a courteous manner and professional manner
  • Assigning staff and resources for the production of news stories for CTV NEWS programs, CTV News Channel, DNS
  • Suggests stories for daily coverage plans for future content working with the international bureaus, freelancers, stringers and collaborators
  • Works under the direct supervision of the Executive Producer and the Sr
  • Research and write stories for the CNN.com
  • Web publishing and social media experience a plus
  • Extensive knowledge of editorial standards, ethics, and media law Must have superior organizational skills
  • Must be able to make decisions and take a leadership role
  • Must have basic writing skills and be able to communicate written and verbally
  • Must be able to apply the FOX 5 Filter to any and all stories
  • Must be able to maintain a professional demeanor when dealing with people at the station and away from the station Must be able to represent the station in the community and at station events
  • Coordinate coverage with managers, field crews, producers and on all digital platforms
  • Reviews all news releases, monitors police and fire scanners, and monitors online news sources for story ideas
  • Writes breaking news alerts and posts
  • Produces original content (text and visual) for digital, mobile and social platforms including Q13FOX.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  • Reviews all news releases, monitors police and fire scanners, and monitors online news sources for for story ideas
  • Use data to know the market and what types of stories resonates with WFMY News 2’s audiences
  • Spearhead coverage of a breaking/developing news story both editorially and logistically
  • Closely work with correspondents and producers in gathering story elements for use on all platforms
  • Identify principal elements of a story, which includes characters, witnesses, documents, UGC and publically accessible materials
  • Build and maintain a network with our affiliates & News Channel counterparts
  • Ability to exercise good news judgement that will result in enterprise content for NewsFix
  • Prior television assignment desk exposure is a requisite, along with a strong and accurate writing resume
  • Knowledge of the Houston metro area is a must
  • Hours will include a flexible schedule during weekdays, with the possibility of weekend availability if needed
  • Minimum 1 year experience working in a leadership role in a newsroom environment
  • Must understand the basic setup of Satellite and TVU technology

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