Magazine article Editor & Publisher

J-School Students and Industry Vets Tackle the Tough Questions

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

J-School Students and Industry Vets Tackle the Tough Questions

Article excerpt

Q: When Vice Media put out a call for a freelance copy editor, an editor commented that from his experience, copy editors slowed down the publishing process and online audiences didn't notice their work. With budget and time constraints in the newsroom, are copy editors still necessary in the editorial process?

A: If there's one thing in journalism that I've always been sure of, it's that everything we do is a process and every part of that process has a purpose.

But in the changing times of journalism, those processes are being reevaluated and changed to fit the new web-first, 24hour breaking news model of journalism. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But even with this new model, designated copy editors-that person responsible in many organizations for rereading anything and everything for AP style, grammar and factual mistakes--are an important part of everything we do.

Copy editors are silent players in the editing process. You may not notice them when they're there, but you certainly will when they're absent.

The work of a copy editor may not elicit comments such as 'Wow, whoever copy edited this story did a fantastic job. They really know their AP style."

But if the process lacked that key player, it would be noticeable and immediately we'd begin to hear the spears of angry reader comments bouncing off our journalism fishbowl set in the public eye. Angry readers who often feel the need to point out what they might have done better.

"Who edited this story?" "The passive voice is terrible." And my personal favorite, "Does anyone even read this before you publish it?"

Yes, a second editor may slow down the process and maybe their process for copy editing needs to change, but that is certainly not to say copy editors should be eliminated.

Having a copy editor around to rake through a longer investigative piece or skim a breaking news story or tweet for any glaring mistakes and to ask questions someone else may have missed is worth the five extra minutes and the salary to have that person around. A second set of eyes has never hurt a story, but a lack of them certainly has.

Kaitlyn Krasselt, 21 senior, University of Idaho (Moscow, Idaho)

Krasselt will earn her bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2015. She is currently the news editor at UI's student run newspaper The Argonaut and a reporting intern at the Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune. …

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