Monday, June 05, 2006

Copy-editing blogs in AJR

An article in the American Journalism Review covers copy-editing blogs, in which "the copy editors' online diatribes have extended beyond the rim to grammar geeks, writers and English teachers, who fill the comments sections with polite but passionate debate on dangling participles and prepositional endings."

There's a good bit on the blogs of Bill Walsh and John McIntyre (and even a brief mention of A Capital Idea).

As usual, McIntyre is so quotable talking about copy editors' noble burden:
"Imagine you're about to win a major award," he says. "You're beautifully dressed, the crowd is waiting, the spotlight is on Â? but you have a streamer of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. When someone points that out, you don't like hearing it Â? but that person has done you a valuable service."
I also learned about a new blog by copy editor Pam Nelson of the Raleigh News & Observer: The Triangle Grammar Guide.


At 8:01 AM, June 06, 2006, Blogger tom said...

I guess I'm getting grouchier by the day because that seemed like Article 9,237 Trivializing What Copy Editors Do.

At 4:49 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

I agree with Tom. It's getting tiresome.

At 6:24 PM, June 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From our perspective, it does seem like trivialization, but it depends on who the audience is for a remark like that. There remain hordes of people for whom editing is a kind of optional thing -- not a hard thing to do (hey, anyone can write, right?), nor generally necessary ("oh, all right, if you must"), and often downright annoying. So the value of the art occasionally needs to be stated in terms that are more, you know, pictureseque. Heck, I work with full-time writers who see copy editing as nothing but an obstacle between them and being done.

-- Mike

At 8:31 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Nicole said...

I'm sensitive to the point, Tom and Doug, but I didn't get that feeling after reading this article -- mostly because the article's not about copy editing, but about a couple of blogs about copy editing. It's fair to say that style minutiae, while just one aspect of the job, does get the majority of play in the copy editing blogs -- especially the ones she mentioned.

What is it that's hitting you guys the wrong way?

At 9:14 PM, June 07, 2006, Blogger fev said...

Hi, Nicole et al: I'm glad to see some attention reach our corner of the world, but I can see a reason for some eyerolling. A copy editor obsessed with long-forgotten details of style is a comfortable archetype, but not a very good fit for somebody like Doug, who's doing and teaching new media while being a curmudgeon -- or even John, who probably has the most direct contact with the newspaper-buying public of the lot.

But if it gets people talking style, it's only a short step to grammar, and after that it's ... nah, common sense might be too much to hope for. But there's always the possibility.

At 1:09 AM, June 11, 2006, Anonymous rknil said...

Maybe if more copy editors addressed the bigger problems in newsrooms today, y'all wouldn't look so much like nitpickers.

I have known very few copy editors who could see the big picture and even fewer who dared to try to address it. Maybe it's time to stop being testy, or blogging about commas, or writing idiotic jingles that blast writers and to start focusing on getting changes made in newsrooms.

I think it's absolutely pathetic that alleged copy editing gurus -- who presided over a time when positions were bastardized into designer positions -- are given the credibility they are in these types of articles.

Editing is optional because you people have fiddled while it became optional. You have only yourselves to blame.


Post a Comment

<< Home