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Editors: Do we really need them?

Are copy editors still needed? As newsrooms cut staffs, many have chosen to eliminate or greatly reduce the number of copy editors. Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander says copy editing cuts have led to more errors in that newspaper.
In a story for the American Journalism Review, Carl Sessions Stepp writes about more stories published online without going through an editor. In that article, Will Sullivan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch talks about thinking of editing differently. He also suggests everyone needs to be his or her own editor.
Read both articles and tell me what you think. Are editors still needed? Or should their roles be redefined? Are there other ways to ensure quality, particularly when stories are posted quickly online? Do these articles make you think differently about your own role as a future journalist? How? Post your response in the comments section for your class before the start of class on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Remember: Edit yourself carefully before you post.

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  1. Magie Wieneke
    January 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    After reading both of these articles I still believe that yes editors are still needed. Traditional roles of an editor might need to be revised for modern times and needs but at the end of the day editors are still a basic tool that most publications would be really lost without. They have saved reporters from appearing unintelligent or neglectful of checking their facts but they have also saved their publications from lawsuits and other more severe forms that can come with a simple misprint.

    When it come to redefining their roles I think it is important to say they need to be up to date on what a online article is going to need versus a print article. Even if there are complete different editors for each category it would help greatly. I am sure most publications have a form like this in place but with the numbers decreasing it is also probably likely that these editors are pulling double duty and sometimes that pressure and stress could weigh heavy on a person and the editors themselves could have flubs.

    As far as reporters I think that it would be a wise idea to really enforce a bit of editing skills on them from an early point in their writing career. A good writer should be a good editor to a degree as well I think. Being objective of one’s own piece could be difficult from time to time because you know what you to say so you will miss things and with time being such a concern walking away for a while is not an option. Which is where having other reporters around you with a bit of an editing skill would employ the buddy system and hopefully prove effective. Of course a editor would still be expected to over look it one last time but the extra set of eyes can only help.

    Without editors there would be many more mistakes than the already present ones in the news world today so but eliminating them all together it is hard to think that technology alone would pick up the slack. Plus news reporting goes back to being a human trait, humans write the news and report it while other humans read and are informed by the words. So to hand off a step in the human cycle to a machine or any piece of technology seems really…well inhuman.

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