Yesterday copy editors on Twitter came out in solidarity with their colleagues in the New York Times.
The paper is reported to be shifting to be more reporter focussed and is cutting down on the number of copy editors in the team from over 100 to around 50. And expecting the same level of accuracy in its written material.
As you would expect there is outrage, upset and a whole load of copy editors soon to be out of jobs. At a time when you would expect that accuracy would be foremost in the minds of the media.
I don’t work there so can’t comment other than it seems to be the state of things to come.
If you want to see the Twitter thread go and search for #whyeditors
I’d like to say I was shocked when I heard about the restructuring, but I wasn’t. It seems to be the way things are going at the moment. We are living in a world that increasingly wants things NOW and to hell with factual accuracy, readability and good plain English.
Go online and you will find ‘news reports’ from a large variety of providers that have obviously been typed up quickly and posted without any kind of editing or proofreading. Words are missing, grammar, spelling and punctuation is woefully bad and accuracy gives way to the immediate gratification of the readers. It’s the same with printed matter.
Books, magazines, newspapers, company information … wherever you find shortcuts you will find errors. Errors that can be easily and quickly remedied by hiring a copy editor.
‘It’s ok, we’ve used Hemmingway, Grammarly, Word spell check, given it to our English teacher/friend/neighbour/dog to proofread’, they’ll say.
‘No-one notices/cares/has the time or money or the inclination’, they’ll mutter.
But you know what?
People do notice and do care, and those automated helpers will only take you so far.
Computers cannot take the place of a real human being, no matter what the tech bods will have you think.
Catch politically incorrect language
Catch potential libel
Catch potential offensive language
Catch copyright problems
See what you wrote, not what you thought you wrote
See what the readers see, not what you see
See holes in your argument
See padding in your prose
Fix errors in grammar
Fix errors in punctuation
Fix errors in format
Fix errors in style
Fix errors in voice
Spot missing information
Spot mislabelled information
Spot wrong information
Find overused phrases
Save your ass more times than you realise
So you see, while editors tend to remain invisible, once they are gone you will notice.
All those errors will creep in, the standard of material will hit rock bottom and your credibility and accuracy will suffer.
If you want to remain ahead of the game, stand out above the crowd and be seen as having a quality product you really cannot ignore the role of the copy editor and the value they bring to your business.