Copy Editing: A Dying Art (Part II)

The impending death of copy editing is more imminent than I thought. Thanks to my friend and colleague Alan Stamm, here is an alarming certifcation from the blog of writer-cartoonist Steve Greenberg:

“Copy editors are the kidneys of the paper, filtering out the waste products and toxins of errors, inconsistencies and misspellings. They question reporters’ statements, correct the grammar and write the headlines that prompt readers to look at the stories they edit. And they are rapidly being eliminated. “[ ]

Greenberg’s post goes on to describe plans of the Scripps newspaper chain to consolidate all of its copy editing and layout in one location in Texas. “What does this mean to the newspapers?” he writes. “It means there won’t be local people to catch local place names, history or other regional idiosyncrasies that good local copy editors can catch, nor any real ‘institutional memory’ of local people and institutions.

“For example, at the Kitsap Sun in Bremerton, Wash., will they be able to sort out all those odd Native American names? Will they know you don’t board a Vashon Island ferry to Tacoma but rather to ‘Point Defiance,’ or that Vashon Island and Maury Island are actually solidly connected?”

Yikes! Former managing editor Stamm will no doubt remember when our beloved employer, the Syracuse New Times, tried to run the Ithaca New Times and Buffalo New Times in a similar manner in the early 1970s. It didn’t work, of course, but at least we had an excuse: We were young, naive, and stupid. The Scripps plan is not likely to function any better in 2010, and it’s far more onerous. The Scripps papers, and those of other chains, are still alleged to be the reliable sources of their respective communities.

So much for that idea.



Filed under Commentary, Editing Tips

2 responses to “Copy Editing: A Dying Art (Part II)

  1. Roland Sweet

    If Scripps is going to consolidate copy editing for all its papers, why choose “once” location in Texas? They might as well outsource the task to Lower Albania.

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