01/22/2007 03:46 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Release 0.9 : In Defense of Editors - Notes from the Burda DLD Conference

I'm listening to a panel called "Where are the editors?" celebrating the rise of citizens' media, self-publishing, blogging, self-organizing sites such as Digg, and so on. The speakers include Tariq Krim of Netvibes, Arianna Huffington (guess!), Craig Newmark of Craigslist, Jim Spanfeller of and David Sifry of Technorati, and moderated by Jochen Wegner of Focus Online (a Burda property).

It's a wonderful array of individuals, but it left me feeling that editors are getting a bad rap. (And yes, dear reader, I got up and said so.)

I learned reporting at Forbes Magazine, courtesy of editor Jim Michaels, and I worked with another one of the best, Christina Koukkos, at my (former) newsletter Release 1.0. Editors don't just moderate comments and fix the odd syntax error. They are to writers what managers are to musicians: They coach, they encourage, they ask awkward questions, they help people to do their best work and they guard them from mistakes.

They (along with good publishers) protect you from angry advertisers. Esme Vos of Muni Wireless asked what do about an angry advertiser; Arianna gave the best answer (in short): "Publicize it!"

And as David Sifry added, they tell you when you have to explain things better. The best editors don't simply select good articles; they help get them created.

Other notes

David Sifry points out that most bloggers don't have a business model. There are 90,000 blog posts about "school board," he points out. Those people aren't writing for money; they're writing about something they care about, for others with a common interest.

Best line: Craig Newmark is asked, What is your exit strategy? he answers, "My exit strategy is basically death."