Copy editors’ association advises Vice to hire a copy editor

ACES | Abraham Hyatt | The Washington Post

“People who don’t think online audiences see value in editing might be surprised,” Fred Vultee writes on the American Copy Editors Society’s website. “Readers are busy, but they aren’t dumb.”

Vultee thinks Vice should go ahead and hire the freelance copy editor position it’s advertising, despite advice to the contrary from Abraham Hyatt. Hyatt writes that hiring two copy editors at ReadWrite.com turned out to be a “train wreck“: The copy editors “slowed the publishing process to a screeching near-halt. And, even more importantly: No. One. Cared.”

Traffic plummeted. By half. Literally, month-to-month traffic cut in half. As we tried to right the sinking ship the first thing I did was fire the copyeditors. During the eight-or-so months they worked for us no one had ever commented on our clean copy.

Vultee says ACES-sponsored research suggests “readers notice editing even when they aren’t trained to look for it.”

Granted, readers notice spelling mistakes. … That doesn’t mean they dismiss preposed modification as trivial; they can tell a man eating tiger from a man-eating tiger as surely as Fowler did. It does suggest that they appreciate it when copy editors decide not to obsess about hyphenating constructions like “school board candidate” and instead concentrate on the clarity and structure that Vice is advertising for.

Another potential plus for Vice’s audience should it hire that grammar nerd: Recent research shows that men who use the word “whom” in online-dating profiles get more responses. Surely Vice, more than any publication, can find a way to bolt such an advantage onto its business model.

Related: Vice Seeks Copy Editor “for it’s upcoming Vice News website” (Gawker) | GAH: BuzzFeed launches new corrections policy, free style guide (Poynter)

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  • Ryan_Williams

    In other words, “Screw the readers. How’s the traffic?” Somewhere, Skynet is taking notes.

  • kandy830

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    a computer. try this F­i­s­c­a­l­M­a­z­e­.­ℂ­o­m

  • lawordsmith

    Hyatt writes that they wanted to bring magazine style copyediting to their blog. Of course that will bring things to a screeching halt. Magazine editing is in-depth and extensive. Breaking-news blogs need quick cleanups and editors paid a premium (if they’re freelance) to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

    And no, readers won’t comment on the clean copy. People don’t tend to mention work well done, especially if it’s expected. You’ll never know the number of readers who weren’t turned off by writing mistakes that make your blog look amateur or sloppy. You can’t quantify how much a little quick copyediting has elevated the site’s perceived authority.

    Just hire copy editors well-versed in online editing, and give them clear direction that speed is priority.