Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A broken record

Copy editors are in the news again -- for another error missed, this time in Mitch Albom's future-seeing column.

(Miss it? A synopsis: Albom wrote on a Friday that stuff happened the following Saturday, for Sunday's paper. And that stuff never happened.)

Albom screwed up. But so did any copy editors who let this column go through, as this Chicago Tribune article points out.

But that's not the end of the story. We should be able to assume that some copy editor read Albom's column, if for no other reason than someone had to write a headline for it. But we don't know if any copy editors raised a red flag and were ignored. (It wouldn't be the first time.)

And we don't know if Albom's editors allowed much copy editing. You can raise questions and be shot down only so many times before you stop raising questions.

The Free Press is investigating how this happened. Let's hope the inquiry shows copy editors' involvement.

And while we wait for those results, let's enjoy the story of a copy editor getting some attention for a change she did make. The Chicago Tribune did a survey of all the papers that picked up Albom's column, and only one changed the wording.

Nikki Overfelt, who graduated in May from KU, edited the story at the Duluth News Tribune.
Overfelt reworded Albom's copy to read that the two players "will be" at the game and "will sit in the stands."
She should have gone further, to say they "planned to be" and "planned to sit," but at least it was a change.

Still want to read more? There's plenty. There's a thread at Testy Copy Editors. Free Press readers wonder where the copy editors (or "reviewers") were. And find comments from Romenesko fans and other Poynter readers.


At 8:23 AM, May 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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