Testy Copy Editors

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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 1:35 am 
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Did I read something about "savage snark" recently?


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 1:53 am 
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I love the part about sleeping in... "Those dastardly, lazy copy editors..."


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 3:23 am 
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Hmm. This is the first troll post I've encountered since joining this Web site. That said ...<p>I've been *both* a copy editor and a reporter and, as such, your post is highly insulting. Sure, I've found plenty of grammatical and usage errors in stories (y'know, the ones that any "schmuck" can find ... but if so, judging from the letters and guest columns we receive, God forbid we just let any "schmuck" do our job), but I've also found factual mistakes, just plain wrong "quotes" and all sorts of fun stuff. I've found mistakes introduced by the reporter, another editor, both, or some other newsroom source.<p>I am socially active to a degree, am well-read and maintain my own damn contacts in the community in which I reside. How the hell do you think I catch most of the mistakes I find? By just reading a damn dictionary? By relying on the AP Stylebook? Hardly. It comes from being exposed to the world, much as a reporter (and a lot of people outside the journalism profession) doing his or her job does.<p>I, too, keep abreast of what the competition is doing, and I strive to maintain the quality of the paper we put out, despite the fact that such efforts aren't always appreciated (I chalk that up to human nature, more than anything else).<p>But, hey, yeah, let's belittle the copy editors nine times out of 10. We've already cut the proofers, why not the CE's next? The next time a paper or magazine gets slammed with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit because of a FUBAR that might have been caught had it gone through another line or two of scrutiny, I won't shed anything but reptilian tears. But I will shed genuine tears for yet another body blow to journalism's credibility amid a population that's increasingly partisan, uninformed and seeing conspiracies everywhere (particularly in the "leftist" and/or "corporate" media).<p>Maybe I've been lucky so far. I work in a newsroom where copy editors and reporters respect each other. Perhaps I need to get out into some massive 500-person newsroom in order to build up a nice, thick skin and a hatred for most reporters. But if that's the price I have to pay in order to find out where you're coming from, reporters, forget it. It's too steep. I'd rather quit the profession first and actually make some real money elsewhere.<p>After all, any old schmuck off the street with basic English skills and half a brain can do my job.<p>Gatekeeper<p>-30-


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 3:30 am 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by northwestreporter:
They have to ask all the right questions, pry information from reluctant sources, and dig through public records. ...
Then they have to write a clear, crisp story. ...
[R]eporters monitor their competitors, maintain contact with dozens of sources and cover their beat (sic) like a hawk.
<hr></blockquote><p>Awwww.... they're so cute when they're young!<p>[ March 19, 2004: Message edited by: grouch_in_training ]</p>


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 6:50 am 
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Like Gatekeeper I have been both a reporter and a copy editor. I was first at the desk. Reporting is tough. A reporter must take down 'verbatim' and often on the field people use words that dictionaries frown on. I don't mean foul words. some of them don't exist in dictionaries and Copy editors have a problem there. Any ideas about how to get around this problem? I find that colloquial expressions are difficult to translate (may be I should say, transliterate).


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:04 am 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by sub-turned-rep:
. Any ideas about how to get around this problem? I find that colloquial expressions are difficult to translate (may be I should say, transliterate).<hr></blockquote><p>Paraphrase.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:10 am 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by northwestreporter:


Any schmuck with basic English skills and half a brain can check a story for mistakes and grammatical goofs. And any Joe can needlessly mark his mark on a story and fiddle around with it<p>
<hr></blockquote><p>And a tip o' the hat to you too, northwest reporter.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:44 am 
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Us vs. them. You're gonna go far in this business, kid.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 9:30 am 
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I'm a reporter who became a copy editor who seven years later returned to reporting, all at the same daily paper, and my response to this semi-troll is the obvious one: Neither job is "harder" or requires you to be "smarter" - they have about a 75 percent overlap of skills, and the other 25 percent is what makes the difference. Reporting requires more people skills, copy-editing requires more multi-tasking (sorry for the jargon), although reporters find that hard to believe.<p>A minor point: I have seen lots of reporters become copy editors, and perhaps 1/4 of them fail. I have seen very few copy editors become reporters, but they have all succeeded. <p>The best thing, of course, would be to move back and forth regularly between the jobs. A week writing heds on the desk does wonders for your lead writing, and a week covering car wrecks and planning boards does wonders for your news perspective.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 1:08 pm 
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Who "needs" copy editors?<p>USA Today does.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 1:17 pm 
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Obviously some copyeditor changed something that made that reporter crabby. So much for a reporter's objectivity.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 2:29 pm 
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Please tell me that this thread is a hoax.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 2:37 pm 
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I think this exchange is important. Northwest reporter has pegged how many reporters/writers feel. They are wedded to their words.
We all are writers at the magazine where I work. And I know what it's like to have my words changed. It seems that they're always better, though, after a good editor gets through with them. But I have been disappointed with some changes; I thought my original copy was better. Maybe because I had read it in my mind so many times.
I think it's a growing-up process for a reporter to get beyond this stage.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 2:58 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by northwestreporter:
After all, any old schmuck off the street with basic English skills and half a brain can do my job.<hr></blockquote><p>And many old schmucks do.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 3:04 pm 
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northwestreporter:<p>Why don't you post links to a few of your stories and let people here have at 'em.<p>[ March 19, 2004: Message edited by: Todd J. Behme ]</p>


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 3:12 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by car copy:
I think it's a growing-up process for a reporter to get beyond this stage.<hr></blockquote>Some never do. But that's OK, because they can always go into PR, where they can write "impacted" and "able to" all they want, and it doesn't get changed.<p>But they'd still think they're better than us because they'd make more money (notice I didn't say "earn more") and get weekends off to go clubbing.<p>I look forward to the day when a sharp desker saves northwestreporter's ass from being relegated to night cops. I also look forward to the day when the desker isn't so sharp.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 3:35 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by SeaRaven:
Please tell me that this thread is a hoax.<hr></blockquote><p>That's my assumption but there's no harm done.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 5:18 pm 
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Gatekeeper speaks for me, too. What an insult.<p>If I had a nickel for every reporter-cq'd name or fact that has ultimately turned out to be incorrect during my 20-plus years at U.S. News, I could retire right now. Hell, I could retire on just the ones that I have caught. <p>As others have already made clear, there's considerably more to copy editing than just consulting reference books, although I disagree with D.Brooks's contention that reporters need more people skills. A lot of outside knowledge comes into play on a regular basis, as does a lot of instinct. Some of this simply cannot be learned in any classroom. It's a talent.<p>It's gratifying that almost without exception, our writers have nothing but good things to say about us. They actually respect us for our knowledge and are quick to thank us for catching their errors--oh yes, they can and do acknowledge that they're not perfect!--and making them look good. And I assure you, they expect a lot more of us than just throwing the dictionary at them.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 6:12 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by northwestreporter:

.....
I'm versatile and talented... .
<hr></blockquote><p>Show, don't tell (if this isn't a hoax). Share your versatility and talent with us.<p>[ March 19, 2004: Message edited by: Todd J. Behme ]</p>


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 6:21 pm 
Hey, folks! They're apparently installing crack dispensers in northwest newsrooms.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 6:27 pm 
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Who needs copy editors? About 95 percent of the writers out there.<p>Maybe any schmuck with basic English skills can edit, but those schmucks are hard to find: These days, most people's English skills suck. And that includes nearly half of the writers whose copy I've worked with. Another large minority have decent language skills and usually check their facts, but very few write stories that could reliably be published unedited without at least minor embarrassments cropping up. (Hell, I couldn't. Even copy editors need copy editors.)<p>And I don't even want to get into the number of reporters who think the secret to good writing is to bury the lede underneath several non sequitur grafs, as if that alone makes it a "narrative" or a "feature lede."<p>God knows copy editors have introduced mistakes into stories before and will again, but in my experience, the proportion of mistakes caught to mistakes missed or added is so high it's ludicrous.<p>Not to mention that until relatively recently, the vast majority of copy editors got to the desk by being reporters (including me and several other posters in this thread). Did anybody out there leave a beat for the desk and feel their jobs had gotten less challenging?<p>Maybe northwestreporter has legitimate gripes. But in that case, I'd still bet that if he worked at a paper that didn't consider copy editors to be "lowly," he'd get better results. Gotta give respect to get respect...


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:35 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by northwestreporter:

Here's the secret of my success. I always save my original documents on my computer before sending them over to copy desk.
I make sure they're time-stamped, giving me some insurance just in case something bad happens to my story.
<hr></blockquote><p>Great. Here's your tinfoil hat. I hear it ensures the aliens can't read your mind. Probably works against copy editors, too.<p>Gatekeeper<p>-30-


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 8:28 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by northwestreporter:

... I always save my original documents on my computer before sending them over to copy desk.
I make sure they're time-stamped, giving me some insurance just in case something bad happens to my story.
<hr></blockquote><p>Curses! He's on to us, folks. Well, there's another sharp and crafty reporter who has pre-empted me from ever touching his copy. I just hope he doesn't share his tip with the folks at Poynter. It could ruin us.<p>[ March 19, 2004: Message edited by: JonScribe ]</p>


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 8:52 pm 
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One of the things copy editors do that northwestreporter fails to mention is point out areas in pieces of writing in which weaknesses could hurt an article's argument or the tone of a story. <p>For example, here's the kicker of the original post:
"It's always good to keep your ego in check."<p>Perhaps this sentence sounds like a good ending, but it comes after the writer has said he is more talented and has more brains than copy editors, and that he possesses "true talent and skill." In other words, it sounds like his ego out of check, and thus the argument falters because the writer has too easily set himself up to be told that he should practice what he preaches.<p>Like SeaRaven, I hope this post is a hoax. If it isn't, perhaps a better posting would be one that deals with a specific episode, though I do enjoy how a rant can reveal someone's character, or lack.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:54 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Gatekeeper:
Here's your tinfoil hat. I hear it ensures the aliens can't read your mind.<hr></blockquote>Personally, I favour a nice paper hat, preferably folded out of one of the tabloids. Quite fetching for spring, what with all those colour pictures, and even the CIA can't detect brainwaves...


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:54 pm 
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Northwestreporter ripe for the plucking by the good folks at journalism.jobs.com.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2004 12:43 am 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by northwestreporter:
Compare that to what copy editors do. They sleep in and start their shift in the afternoon.
<hr></blockquote><p>Not to mention that these lucky ducks who are sleeping in need to take vacation days to see their kids' school plays. And having reared a family while being a copy editor, I can tell you I didn't do a lot of "sleeping in." <p>And it's "compare with," not "compare to," by the way.


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 Post subject: Re: Who needs copy editors?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2004 1:42 am 
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Hey, "Ben," since you're apparently so reluctant to let us see your clips, at least let us know what paper you work for. That will make it easier for you and us to avoid each other -- a win-win situation, if ever I've seen one.


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