Name: Josh Gohlke
Title: Op-Ed Editor
Media Outlet: Philadelphia Inquirer
Twitter Handle: @JoshGohlke
1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less.
Respond to e-mails. Budget pages. Respond to e-mails. Edit copy. Respond to e-mails wondering why I haven’t been more responsive. Repeat!
2) What’s the best pitch you’ve ever received?
I’m lucky to have so much commentary to choose from, but sheer math forces me to decline (politely, I hope) most of the submissions I get, including some perfectly good ones. So I think my sentimental favorites are from the people who become enraged when I say no, demand explanations, urge me to reconsider, and, best of all, tell me something like, “Well, I think it’s really good!” I have yet to meet someone who agrees that I should not publish his submission.
3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you?
My best editor in college told me to remember the acronym “KISS: Keep it simple — smart!” He was being nice; it really stands for “Keep it simple, stupid!” Most good editing comes down to this admonition.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch famously put it another way: “Murder your darlings.” That is, if you’re madly in love with the beauty or wit of a passage you wrote, you should probably delete it.
4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be?
Many PR people are very conscientious about the submissions they handle. But others seem to be acting as mere conduits for whatever their clients give them — and then blaming editors for failing to publish it. I think many clients could be done an immense service by a representative who edits them or encourages them to rewrite, and who is honest about what is and isn’t likely to be published and why.