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."

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)

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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