Posted on May 25, 2012
Every journalist is a copy editor (or needs to be)
As print/online newsrooms evolve, the role of copyediting (and the people who copyedit) is changing. Steve Buttry, director of community engagement and social media at Journal Register Co., just wrote a long blog post about this. There’s useful information there for students, journalism educators, reporters and bloggers.
Journalists who have treated the copy desk as a safety net need to take more responsibility for the quality of their own work. And journalists who have specialized in copy editing will play multiple roles in a Digital First newsroom.
I’ve been preaching the “no safety net” sermon to students for many years. It’s one of the reasons to require long-term (at least a full semester) blogging — if a potential employer finds your blog and it’s full of grammatical and other errors, you are toast. So writing a blog is good practice for the real world.
I really like how Steve divided his post into two sections: “Advice for copy editors” and “Copy editing tips for all journalists.” I worked as a copy editor for 11 years, and I appreciated the advice in both lists.
Copy editors should be teaching their colleagues and community bloggers the skills they have learned (and are learning). Lead a workshop in self-editing or in writing SEO headlines. That may seem counter-intuitive, like you are trying to help the newsroom get along without your copy-editing skills. But training demonstrates your value and underscores your expertise.
(Hat tip to my Florida colleague Ron Rodgers for the link to Steve’s post.)