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editor at large Options
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Monday, July 31, 2017 4:01:38 AM

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According to Wikipedia, "editor at large" is sometimes called a "roving editor". He or she is "more independent; they are allowed their own preferences in the content they have to generate, ... has no specific assignments, but rather works on whatever interests them."

I am interested in what you think stands behind the title... Does it allude to a ship being at large in the sea?
Romany
Posted: Monday, July 31, 2017 4:30:41 AM
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Kirill -

The phrase is rarely used now - though one comes across it in older books and text. To-day we use "Free-lance".

Briefly - 'at large' comes from Old French "au large" - which means "free". So people who are 'at large' are those who are free - of restrictions etc.

After only a few years working for a specific publication I became a free-lance feature-writer - which I still am to-day i.e. I don't stick to writing academic papers - I write public articles and think-pieces exactly as I want to - I don't have to be inhibited by any of the big media conglomerates and the line every paper is committed to sticking to. So I guess that means I, too am free. (Mind you, when you're paying off a mortgage there are times being 'free' can be pretty tough!).

However, as I said above - I refer to myself, and am referred to as: a Freelance.
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Monday, July 31, 2017 4:53:57 AM

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Hello, Romany!

In fact, I heard the title mentioned just yesterday - on Bloomberg TV they called one of the persons in the studio their "editor at large".

I understand a "free lance" journalist or contributor is someone who is not associated with any particular institution, and is therefore paid for specific pieces/products/contributions (rather than a salary that is per hour/week/month spent "on the job").

But since the guy is "Bloomberg's editor at large" I guess he is paid some fixed salary by Bloomberg, while still having a lot of independence. So I wondered whether that alluded to sailing nice and free, with no authority in sight, just wind, sun and sea... Not a bad job it should be then, epecially if it's well paid. Brick wall
Romany
Posted: Monday, July 31, 2017 5:27:19 AM
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To me it sounds like a contradiction in terms: if he's employed by Bloomberg, then he's not 'free'. He still has to produce articles which reflect Bloomberg's mission statement.

Also, it seem very strange to me to have an "Editor" at large. Reminds me of ancient times when 'scribes' sat in the market-place to help people with their correspondence!

But, as American English drifts slowly further away from British English many words pop up as 'false friends' i.e. we know the words, but they are used differently.(On another thread have just learned that the word "proctor" means something very different in AE.)

This may be another of those instances?

It would be good if an American poster could say how they interpret this "Bloomberg's Editor at large" sentence.
thar
Posted: Monday, July 31, 2017 5:27:59 AM

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It means unconfined (by editorial control, in this case).


[I don't know about freelance - that is not under contract - by definition they can do what they want. I would expect an editor at large to be on staff (although nowadays that may be freelance for tax and insurance purposes, but it is just a tax dodge.) But I will bow to Rom's knowledge.]


An escaped convict is at large until they are caught again.



Or an escaped wild animal



Large means expansive, wide - at large means in the expanse, in the wide world - roaming free.


It comes from French big, expansive,
Eg also source of English largesse, financial generosity.

It is true that in French 'large' means open sea - but I don't see any evidence that meaning came with it.
The point with those French words is that sometimes they displaced the English ones, and sometimes they found niche meanings alongside each other.

The impression I get is that 'large' meant 'the expanse out there', but does seem to imply something loose on land.

It doesn't feel right to say a pirate ship is at large. Whether it ever did feel right....that is unclear, but does not seem backed by any evidence.

For role descriptions it does now seem to be more common to see 'roving' or 'without portfolio'.

But you still have ambassadors-at-large.

Quote:
President Akufo-Addo has appointed the 2016 Flagbearer of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Edward Nasigri Mahama as an Ambassador-at-Large.
He was among 21 others who have been appointed to represent Ghana as diplomats in other countries.
They were all sworn in by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday.
An ambassador-at-large is an ambassador with special duties but not appointed to a particular country.
Others who were also part of the 22 sworn in include former Attorney General, Ayikoi Otoo is to represent Ghana in Canada, George Ayisi Boateng; South Africa and Mercy Bampoe Addo for Malta.


Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Monday, July 31, 2017 5:55:01 AM

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thar wrote:
It means unconfined (by editorial control, in this case).

Large means expansive, wide - at large means in the expanse, in the wide world - roaming free.


Wow, thanks! Looks like I mistakenly extended the French meaning of au large "in open sea" to English, where "at large" apparently does not have this meaning?

So "editor at large" feels more like roaming nice and free by land instead Angel Still sounds good enough

Thank you, Romany and Thar!

Edit:
Just checked - in French "to be at large" (être au large) also means to be well-off, not constrained in means. It's a nice association I think.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, July 31, 2017 6:46:06 AM

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The only similar (compound noun title) usage I know is "Ambassador at Large" - there are other similar meanings, as thar mentioned.

I don't think it has connection to the sea - I've never heard of a ship being 'at large', except pirates at large in the Caribbean, which is the same meaning as the escaped wild animal or criminal.

Ambassadors at Large are not free to do anything they like - but they are not tied to one country.
The USA has an Ambassador in England (who represents the USA in London).Also one in Germany, one in France etc.
If a discussion were needed between the USA and every country in Europe, an Ambassador-at-large would be appointed with authority to represent the USA in all the countries.
In the past, often the Secretary of State seems to have done this function.
Henry Kissinger was used in this way in the 1960s - before, during and after his tenure in the 'official' government.

MY opinion (slightly educated opinion) is that it's an older meaning of 'large' meaning 'liberal' or 'freely giving' - as is still seen in the English/French word "largesse".

In French "au large" and in Italian "a largo" mean "unencumbered" or "not limited in scope".


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, August 01, 2017 4:10:23 AM
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It's not merely the designation - it's the practicalities of it.

An Editor is integral to the process of publishing. An editor helps to produce a publication by formatting, correcting, giving advertisers room etc. etc. so it absolutely stymies me how one can have an Editor 'at large' - roaming around the place, whistling a merry song and letting the publication sort itself out? It just doesn't even seem possible.

Unless, gawdelpus, 'Editor' or 'at large' have different meanings in AE?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, August 01, 2017 5:22:03 AM

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As I think we have fairly well answered Kirill's question on the origin of the phrase 'at large', I'll give MY idea of an "editor at large".

Many media channels appear to not really have their own reporters - they simply repeat edited versions of stories released by AP (Associated Press), Reuters, BBC, CNN and so on.
You can find the same stories on almost all news channels in almost the same words - slanted according to the preferences of the editors.

"Bloomberg" appears to have separate sections (and so do the other major outlets) and I assume each has a different editor:
the sports editor
the cars editor
the international finance editor
the investments news editor
political editor
and so on.

My guess is that the sports editor goes through feeds from all the major sports sources (plus freelance stories they are sent) and chooses which will appear in his/her section of the site.

The political editor would do the same for all political feeds, and would format/edit the political section of the site.

An "Editor at large" would have a section which specialises in "Quite Interesting" click-grabbing stories from anywhere - which don't fit into the main sections.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, August 01, 2017 11:34:34 AM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
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Hmm, well I expect that could have led to this designation. Admittedly, as I've said, it's many years since I worked for one particular outlet but, in the time that I did that'd be the job of the sub-Editor.

But as Bob-baby informed us all: the times they are a-changin'.
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