These past two weeks’ blog readings reminded me that copy editing is much more than searching for misplaced commas and AP style slip-ups. I also learned that one of the most crucial jobs copy editor has is to focus. A copy editor is often one of the only people who have the time and perspective to read the story with a critical eye, questioning everything that seems even slightly fishy. Through my editing experience I have noticed that at the beginning of my editing shifts, I am much better at reading stories with a very critical eye and rarely missing any mistakes. However, as the night goes on, I lose focus, and that’s when I have let mistakes through in the past. I think in the future I will try to follow the critical thinking checklist in my mind to keep myself more alert and focused. The only part of the checklist I wlll never be able to follow is the first step, “reading, not editing, is the first step.” No matter how hard I try to restrain myself, I always make small changes on my first reading of the story. After reading the seven questions copy editors should ask of every story, I think one of the most difficult things to fix in a story are transitions. Especially when I am editing a story for print and space is limited, it’s not always easy to put in flowing transitions. That has always been something I have struggled with in my editing experience.
I did have some issues with the Skeptical Editing article. Although I do believe that copy editors should question everything, I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to trust the writer. They are often experts on the story’s topic, and sometimes it’s not practical to verify every single fact when on deadline. During my time at the Alligator, I had no hesitation questioning writers. However, when I was at the New York Times, I found that the editors place a lot of trust in their writers. It was hard to transition from scrutinizing everything to “just going with it.” However, I don’t think editors should blindly trust the writers; there has to be a balance.
Speaking of the New York Times, I have to say I was a little terrified after watching the speech by Bill Keller, the executive editor. I realized that I definitely need to pump up my online experience in order to have a job after graduation. Also, I was very surprised that one of the “questions that loom largest to us (The New York Times) at the moment” was the possibility of redesigning Times article pages. This is huge. There’s a reason the Times is known as the Gray Lady -- it has always been a very traditional paper and for the most part have had a similar design since it began. I can’t imagine a redesigned New York Times. It’s a terrifying image.