Prosenjit Datta

Former Editor Business Today and Businessworld.

  • What are the different editing sub-types that an aspirant can look out for?

    if you are taking of print journalism, there is sub editing or subbing as it is called, which involves grammar and spelling checks, shortening sentences to make it more readable, checking for factual accuracy etc. The more specialised skill is rewriting, which involves taking a copy filed by one or more reporters and reworking it to build a compelling narrative with proper structure etc. There are other types of editing also such as video and audio editing. at the base of all editing is the need to develop a coherent and interesting story or narrative

  • What are some of the best editing techniques that you swear by?

    The two most important ones that I use is to get the nutgraf right because the story revolves around it, and try not to tamper with the “writer’s voice” if he or she is a goodwriter

  • How do you see your job evolving in the future?

    The medium changes, not the basic task of making a copy read better. But as language evolves, you use new words and drop archaic usage

  • What was the most challenging moment in your career?

    I was heading the strategy and management supplement of my newspaper when I was asked to fly to Bombay as I was called then to take charge of a stock market supplement that was facing issues with its team. So overnight I found myself with a new, hostile team in a new city and managing a section on a subject I had not studied in detail. The next six months were extremely challenging as I needed to restore confidence, build up systems and improve editorial quality while learning on the job

  • What motivated you to choose this career?

    Frankly I stumbled upon Business Journalism by sheer accident and I liked it so much that I stayed with it

  • How was your experience with your first job?

    My first job was not in journalism. It was as a sales officer trainee in a personal computer startup. It was extremely interesting and I worked with some great bosses and co workers and learnt a lot about different businesses in different parts of the country

  • What's the advice you would like to give to an aspiring editors?

    Editing needs you to see both the big picture as well as the details. Getting one right and the other wrong can spoil the narrative. my advice to all aspiring editors is to first read up on the subject, read the article properly to understand the broad arguments it makes and then find check the details to see that they do not contradict the thesis or the narrative. And of course language and grammar play a big role in editing

  • How did you rise in your role as a editors, what career hacks can you share?

    No specific career hacks. Having a wide range of interests and reading a lot helped. The fact that I worked for demanding editors right from the beginning of my career played a big role in improving my skills.

  • What role did your educational background play in your career?

    I studied science (Msc Chemistry) but ended up making a career in business journalism. I think what I liked about science was that it taught me logical thinking and the importance of understanding the fundamentals of any subject. Apart from that, I always liked reading about anything and everything and that I believe helped me in my career. A basic curiosity is a big boon if you are planning to get into journalism

  • What are the 3 things every successful editors must-have?

    A deep knowledge of the subject they are editing. The ability to see the big picture without missing out the micro details. The ability to ask the right questions

  • Describe a typical day at work for you?

    A typical day starts at 5.30-6 AM with two cups of tea and 7 newspapers and news websites to look at stories and ideas that need following up. Followed by discussions with team at 9 AM. Research, reading, writing till 1 .30. Lunch followed by solving problems and editorial discussions and news selection till 6.30-7. Catching up with reading post that. Dinner. Some more reading and bed. If I have meetings or functions to attend, these are fitted in between

  • Is it true that an individual has to have an eagle's eye to become an editor?

    That is only one part. Grammar and spelling and the ability to write well is also extremely important. so is the ability to concentrate and read the original copy several times to check for factual accuracy, sentence construction, logical consistency etc

  • How has your job evolved over the years?

    At the earliest stage of my career, it was only about my specific editorial skills and domain expertise. Over the years, the number of subjects one needs to read and keep up with increased. After I became editor of a magazine, the job involved shaping the editorial direction of the publication and developing the skills of my team

  • What is your biggest concern at your job? How do you manage it?

    The biggest concern has always been to remain up to date with information in a rapidly changing world. Especially with the explosion of new technologies, development of brand new business models, and a surfeit of information at your finger tips, keeping up with subjects and events means having to read more than ever before. Equally, increasing job responsibilities mean you have less time to do so. But a judicious mix of reading at night and talking to subject experts helps to an extent

  • What is the difference between a writer editing & a professional editor editing a piece of work?

    sometimes a second pair of eyes can spot the flaws or weaknesses even in a very good writer’s copy. A writer can edit his or her own work but may be too close to it to spot any problems. A professional editor looks at the copy without being wedded to it and that is the value he or she brings to the table

  • Does an editor have to expertise in a particular subject to step into this profession?

    If you are serious about the profession, you will need to read up and build expertise. People you interview will not take you seriously if you do not have the knowledge to ask the right questions. Apart from that, you need to have a good command over the language

  • Can you share some editing tips?

    Read the full copy carefully to understand the point it is making. See if the points are ordered logically and the argument makes sense. Read other news stories on the subject to see if the copy can be improved with additional information. A very loose rule is that unless a writer is very skilled, shorter sentences work better than long sentences. Make sure you have done grammar and spelling checks. Please remember that these are only some very basic tips. You need both training and practice to become a good editor

  • How many rounds of edits should an editor make?

    The deadline dictates the number of edits you can possibly do. In general, I have preferred handling a copy twice if I have the time. The second time allows you to spot some mistakes missed in the first round

  • Do you use any editing tools that help you cross-check your work?

    Always good to read other reports on same subject (search engines are useful). Also useful to use a grammar, spell check and plagiarism software. Many are free and many are paid so you can choose depending on how much you use. Try several before you settle on one

  • What are the perks and drawbacks of being an editor?

    Perks include the satisfaction of improving a copy. Most common drawback is that authors/writers hate anyone changing their copy and therefore hate you too

  • What are some of the editing styles that come handy to you?

    This cannot be answered simply. In my own career, I have switched between news editing and long form editing