• Institute for the Advancement of Journalism

The changing role of commissioning editors: keeping up with the times



Pleasing audiences has become more and more challenging the digital age. Dedicated streaming services like Netflix and Showmax mean audiences can watch what they want, when they want to as many times as they like. Add social media and thousands of mobile apps and people no longer have to tune into traditional platforms to get their daily dose of TV.

This is what makes the job of a commissioning editor all the more important for TV channels that want to retain old viewers can attract new ones.

All TV stations have editors. Commissioning editors need to make sure that they create and distribute entertaining, informative and meaningful content for the stations they work for while balancing tight budgets with the company values, the needs of the audience and the need to be ethical. They’re the ones that make sure that you’re glued to your screens … even during the AD breaks.

The job

Commissioning editors work closely with the marketing departments in companies to build viewership and to create and build the overall image of the channel. They need to ensure that advertisers buy advertising time during the programme slots and that the content that has been created from the media and advertisers are in sync. The channel’s television shows, series, variety shows and adverts need to speak to the audience that tune into a specific time slot without contravening the company values.

Our training

The Institute for the Advancement of Journalism’s Commissioning Editors Training helps commissioning editors understand how the content they have created influences the organisation they work for, the media as a whole and the impact it has on the audience.

Recently the IAJ teamed up with the SABC to training commissioning editors at the broadcasting corporation.

The IAJ’s training covers media law, how content is created and consumed and its longevity. Researching for and creating content costs a great deal of money. Commissioning Editors need to account for the money needed and utilized as explained in their budgets. Production costs can be expensive when creating content, distributing content, but also profits must be made for their slots.

The future

The new online and digital platforms that have been created have opened new playgrounds for content creators. It has created opportunities for new industries to be introduced creating new employment and allows for collaborations with different industries. It is vital that industry workers up skill themselves and stay updated with these changes so they too can take advantage of these new opportunities.

Commissioning editors have the grave responsibility of staying up to date with the ever changing environment. They have had to become more creative in delivering their content making it inclusive for advertisers and collaborators. Consistency, creativity and inclusivity will ensure commissioning editors content is part of the pack and not slowly deteriorating, dying off… becoming obsolete.

“The changes in broadcast, due to the fragmentation of audiences and revenue streams, is replicating itself across the media. Print, radio, web and community media are all going through the same pain. As always, the innovators will win.”- Howard Thomas, facilitator of the commissioning editors training.



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