As a former copy editor, one whose job was deemed to be redundant, I can’t resist sharing this. Writing for Columbia Journalism Review, Craig Silverman argues that fewer copy editors means more errors — and a subsequent loss of journalistic credibility. And he explains how the new news economy is exacerbating this problem:
Among other duties—too many other duties, if you ask me—copy editors are charged with eliminating grammatical, spelling, and factual errors. So, yes, fewer copy editors should result in more errors. But there are other factors at play during this moment in journalism, and they’re further complicating the math.
At the same time papers are thinning the ranks of copy editors, they are also increasing the amount of content being produced. Copy editors used to focus on a print edition. Now they have to deal with breaking news for the Web site, blogs, and other online content. Fewer copy editors are doing more work than ever before. On top of that, fewer reporters—they’re far from immune to layoffs and buyouts—are expected to produce more writing and reporting.
This is where the math gets fuzzy. Or perhaps frightening.
In the new newsroom equation, fewer copy editors and fewer reporters are required to produce more work at the same level of quality.