Friday, July 23, 2004


No one likes having their faults paraded in front of them. But copy editors constantly find themselves doing this -- tracking down errors, trying to keep them from being repeated.

So what's the best way to do it diplomatically? Alex Cruden, chief of copy desks at the Detroit Free Press, offers this advice on the ACES board:
Begin by considering why they should care. Not everyone is as idealistic as the typical first-rate copy editor, particularly about matters of style and consistency. So put yourself in the place of the person about to be given the feedback, and try to figure out what she or he would think worthwhile in whatever is to be discussed. If, for example, a reporter cares more about exposing facts than writing well, shape the dialogue toward how revelations have little impact when they're unclear, imprecise and/or scattered about.

And yes, make it a dialogue, not a lecture. Whenever you feel a statement coming on, try to turn it into a question. (Or: Wouldn't it produce better results to ask a question than make a declaration?)
You may have heard it before, but it's good advice.

And where newsroom leadership is concerned, I've enjoyed reading Edward Miller's "Reflection on Leadership" essays. I don't always find them applicable to what I do every day, but I do more often than not. The archive is here, and you can subscribe to his weekly e-mails here.


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