Copy Editors Often the Missing Link in the Online Newsroom

By RJI on May 3, 2007 0 Comments

by Leann Frola, Naughton Fellow - The Poynter Institute,

In an April 25, 2007 article on the Poynter Institute's website, Leann Frola summarized the most prominent discussions from the 2007 American Copy Editors Society (ACES) convention. How to keep copy editors in the mix in a newsroom atmosphere where reporters are often expected to file their stories to their organizations' websites soon after they're written was a hot topic of conversation.

Frola writes:

Copy editors usually ask a lot of questions. But this past weekend, at the annual American Copy Editors Society convention, those questions weren't just about sloppy copy. They were about how copy editors fit into a newsroom where breaking stories are posted online first. Those questions come at a time when copy editors are stretched thin. When their work is being outsourced to India, China and the Philippines. And when they're largely an afterthought in the process of posting content online. "A lot of reporters are filing directly to the Web, without anyone editing a story," Detroit Free Press recruiting and development editor Joe Grimm...said. "That gets the material out fast, but it has mistakes in it."

The Web staff can usually fix them quickly, he said. But when RSS feeds pull the first version of a story, those mistakes are permanently recorded.

Kathy Schenck, assistant managing editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel copy desk, said that reporters at the paper file their blogs directly to the Internet. There just aren't enough copy editors to go around, she said...

"[Copy editors] find a fair number of mistakes," Schenck said. "I wish we had enough people to edit all that stuff, but we don't. But I'd rather see typos there than in the paper..."

Click here for Frola's article in its entirety on the Poynter Institute website.