Copy editing

Sun-Times copy editor helps save woman from drowning

Chicago Sun-Times

Sun-Times Media copy editor Ken Fryer was leaving work early Friday “when he heard several people calling for help” on a bridge he was crossing in Chicago.

Fryer “broke the glass of a case containing a life preserver on the north side of the river,” Sam Charles reports for the Sun-Times, and someone else threw the preserver toward a woman who had reportedly attempted suicide by jumping in. A diver for the Chicago Fire Department pulled her in.

“It was just her head above water,” Fryer said. “Thank God [crews] came here because I don’t think she had much left.”

Here are some photos from the rescue. Read more


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 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.” Read more

Brain activities

Why good copy editors are ‘abnormal’ humans

There are a multitude of factors that can come into play when a mistake occurs.

When I give workshops about the source of journalistic errors and how to prevent them, I point to big-bucket causes such as the tools we use, and the processes we follow. Soon I get to a very personal cause of error: the human brain.

Our brains are, as Yuka Igarashi writes in a lovely essay about human error for The Guardian’s Mind Your Language blog, “the original autocorrectors”. And she doesn’t mean that in a good way.

We see things that aren’t there and miss things that are. Yes, our eyes literally play tricks on us. We miss obvious typos. We’re prone to linguistic mistakes such as the anticipation error that causes so many journalists to speak of a man named “Obama Bin Laden.” Read more


Journalists declare war…on ellipses


The job description of the ellipsis has changed, Matthew J.X. Malady writes. His emails, his text messages…full of three-point shots. Clay Shirky hypothesizes to him that “people are trying to use alphabets like we’re talking, and it’s … hard. So we reach for the ellipsis.”

Awl Editor Choire Sicha tells Malady he’s defeated his own overuse of ellipses, retraining himself to “send emails in complete sentences, with proper punctuation, like an adult person.”

At The Washington Post, using fewer ellipses is now an institutional imperative, judging by a July 17 memo from Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz and Multiplatform Editor Jesse Lewis. “We’ve noticed an overuse of the ellipsis recently,” they write. Read more

Michele Bachmann

Fact-checkers, copy editors on why they’ll be affected by Michele Bachmann’s retirement

U.S. Rep Michele Bachmann announced early Wednesday that she would not seek her seat next year, an announcement that will land hard on two constituencies: Fact-checkers and copy editors.

“She was great to cover because she was consistently and unapologetically wrong,” Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler told Poynter in an email. “But others will fill the breach, I am sure!” In a post bidding her adieu, Kessler wrote that Bachmann’s absence “will leave the Capitol a much less interesting place to fact check.” Read more


AP changes style on ‘underway’: Copy editors react

Two days after changing its style on the term “illegal immigrant,” the Associated Press issued a Stylebook update that’s significant but in a much quieter way:

One word in all uses.

OK, it’s a big deal mostly to copy editors, many of whom have spent a good part of their professional lives jamming a space into “underway.”

Here’s the old listing:

under way Two words in virtually all uses: The project is under way. The naval maneuvers are under way.

One word only when used as an adjective before a noun in a nautical sense: an underway flotilla.

I surveyed a few copy-editing icons on whether the AP switch would occasion one at their organizations: Read more

yeni ikon çalışmam

How text-to-speech technology can help journalists avoid copy errors

You’ve run spell-check and closely studied your story. Your editors have done the same and the copy desk — the last line of defense against mistakes — has scrutinized every word and line to ensure error-free copy.

And then the worst happens. You pick up the newspaper or open your online story. A mistake, perhaps several, jump out: misspellings, repeated words, missing ones, sources’ names spelled differently on second reference, any of several embarrassing screw-ups have made their way into publication.

You’re not alone.

Spell and grammar checkers are designed to flag misspellings, dangling modifiers, misshapen clauses and run-on sentences, but they’re far from infallible. Mistakes are easy to ignore on the page, but even more elusive on the screen where everything seems pixelly perfect.

There’s another, much more valuable, tool to cut down on creeping copy errors: Text-to-speech. Read more


Are question headlines too vague to use?

New York Times | Technovia

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan plunges into the never-ending debate over headlines that pose a question in Wednesday’s Public Editor’s Journal. A post on the paper’s opinion blog Room for Debate is headlined “Do Women Have What It Takes To Lead?

Plenty of readers had something to say about the original post, but the use of the perilous punctuation is what sparked debate with Sullivan, whose own blog post bears the headline “Is There Really Room To Debate Whether Women Can Lead?”

The editor of Room for Debate, Susan Ellingwood, responded to my question about the headline.

Raising a provocative question is our way of starting an interesting discussion. That title starts a productive conversation about gender stereotypes and leadership – even if, in the end, the consensus among the debaters is “yes, women do have what it takes.” Each post explored the question from a different angle.

Read more

Copy editing, page design jobs to be outsourced at Toronto Star

Globe and Mail
Canada’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, is the latest to reduce costs by laying off copy editors and outsourcing their work for a fraction of the expense.

The Star will outsource page design and copy editing to Pagemasters North America, Globe and Mail media reporter Steve Ladurantaye reports. The cost savings come from efficient centralized production, but also lower pay for editors. “The top union rate for an editor at Pagemasters is $48,000,” Ladurantaye reports, “while the same job at the Star comes with an annual salary closer to $85,000.”

Pagemasters North America is owned by The Canadian Press news wire, of which the Star’s parent company Torstar Corp. is a co-owner. News & Tech reported in 2009 that the Star was in discussions to begin a small amount of outsourcing to Pagemasters North America, but did not. Read more

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How reporters can become better self editors

The accelerated pace of journalism means many reporters have to write, edit and quickly publish their work online, sometimes without the benefit of an extra set of eyes.

Given this reality — and the fact that there are fewer copy editors these days –  it’s more important than ever for reporters to become their own self editors.

Here are a few steps you can take to help yourself produce cleaner copy and avoid embarrassing mistakes.

Print out stories, proof them

Tom Orsborn, a sports writer covering the Dallas Cowboys for the San Antonio Express-News, often picks apart his own stories long before his editors have the chance.

Self-editing is one situation where exhibiting obsessive-compulsive tendencies can help, he said during a phone interview: “Sometimes I can’t let go of a story because I just want it to be perfect. Read more

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