Being a Gatekeeper

Freeimages.com/Fons Reijsbergen
Freeimages.com/Fons Reijsbergen

The other day, I had an interesting email exchange with the medical editor of the website I work on. The website is a startup free resource for paramedics, and the content is written by healthcare professionals of all levels. The medical editor is a physician. It’s his job to give the final stamp of approval.

Or at least that’s the idea. But he’s been getting a lot of articles that need a lot of work. Because I haven’t been doing my job of gatekeeping well enough because this medical editor opened up a conversation about it with me.

You see, editors don’t just read and rewrite. They also manage schedules and authors’ feelings. And, they act as gatekeepers for the highest level editors and ultimately for the reader.

We’re supposed to be somewhat tough, to tell it like it is. And we often do. But we’re human, too. And most of us started as writers, so we know how scary and disappointing and sometimes downright defeating it can be to get back a piece of work you poured your heart and soul into, get it back with hope and promise only to see red marks and rejection.

It’s tough work, but someone’s got to do it. And as the medical editor politely suggested, it’s part of the job. I know good writing when I see it, and can spot bad writing like nobody’s business. It’s my job to make sure the reader doesn’t even know there was a bad side to the finished product.

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