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Editors: Do we really need them? (PM class)

If you’re in the afternoon class, please post your comments here.

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  1. Chiron Hunt
    January 19, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Are editors still needed?
    I think editors are needed in every aspect of a newsroom. I say this because the purpose of news is to inform or persuade the response of a specific audience. If you can’t deliver without simple mistakes then people won’t be willing to read it.
    Or should their roles be redefined?
    The purpose of a copy editor is to make sure that there are no mistakes in any of the stories. I don’t see what’s so hard about letting them spell check, grammar check, and or punctuation check.
    Are there other ways to ensure quality, particularly when stories are posted quickly online?
    My only answer to this question is that I agree to the concept of every writer should be his/her own editor. However, when something needs to be posted quickly online, I don’t think it would be something that long or in depth.
    Do these articles make you think differently about your own role as a future journalist?How?
    Not really because, as a writer and broadcaster, I continuously need to know how to correct myself while writing. To become a self-editor is probably the best thing I can learn right now before I become a sports broadcaster.

  2. Magie Wieneke
    January 19, 2010 at 11:58 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.

  3. Brett Bedel
    January 25, 2010 at 12:46 am

    With all the mistakes and typos that have been happening in news stories lately I think yes, copy editors are still needed, probably now more than ever. I do agree that everyone should be their own editor. Being a journalist isn’t just about getting the story, but it’s also about reporting it accurately. You should always, most definitely proofread your stories before you even hand it in to a copy editor, if you have one. If you don’t have anyone to check over your story before you post it then it is even more crucial that you look over your work, or have a colleague look over it for you. I believe it hurts a reporter’s credibility if they continually have mistakes and errors in their stories. How are you supposed to believe what they report is accurate if they, for example, get works mixed up?

    We live in a fast world. People want their news fast and online as soon as it happens. This makes it even more important to a journalist to proofread their story, and like I mentioned have someone else like a colleague look over it. Chances are, if you have someone read over it they will be able to give you suggestions and find mistakes that you may have missed. They are going to be able to tell you if your story makes sense and flows. For me, I always read over my work. I feel if I can limit as many mistakes as possible it will make me a better writer and journalist. It will make me more credible as opposed to someone who misspells words and has grammar errors.

  4. Paige Yowell
    January 25, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I think both articles proved that editors are still needed, even in their most traditional role of spell checking and grammar accuracy. Immediacy of news is not the most important aspect. Chances are if something needs to be posted immediately it’s not going to be very long, thus shouldn’t take much time for someone else to read over. I know when I read something and there are a bunch of grammar mistakes and misspelled words it takes away from the writer’s actual message. Proper grammar and spelling is even more important in the field of journalism because the industry relies on credibility. If we can’t write an article without grammar mistakes, how can the public rely on us to properly fact check our stories? In my opinion the two go hand in hand. Maybe editors need to make themselves more available to writers on the staff so they can get to the stories that need to be posted immediately. An editor simply having e-mail on his or her cell phone would make it fairly simple and time efficient to read a story that needs to be posted immediately online.
    I think, as controlling as it may seem, the only way to ensure quality of content posted online is to regulate it. By that I mean not allowing reporters to post online and only allowing the editor to post stories that he or she has read over and approved. I think it’s a bit of a slippery slope when you’re allowing a lot of people post whatever “news” they want to a large public website. To go along with that I think every reporter should re-read their work and always strive to be the best when it comes to grammar and spelling, even if it’s just to make the editor’s job easier.
    As a future journalist the articles make me want to be the best that I can be when it comes to writing. If that means having a colleague read over my work and point out the mistakes, so be it. Readers shouldn’t have to be our editors.

  5. Patrick Breen
    January 25, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    It’s easy to tell that copy editors are definitely needed, but the conundrum lies in the fact that the newspapers, in a weird strategy to run a business, want to make a profit. In the past, before the internet, papers had time to edit stories. They had time to read, and re-read stories that would publish the next day. In our world today, the story needs to be up on a website as soon as it breaks. It’s important to compete with other papers and their ability to produce news. But the faster the story goes up, the more chances there are for an error.

    But currently newspapers are cutting jobs and are hastening the speed of the stories by allowing reporters to post directly to the web.

    To make a profit nowadays means they have to cut expenses somewhere. So simply saying that newspapers need to keep their copy editors won’t do a thing.

    Maybe a redefining of the reporter and copy editor is needed and maybe a way for reporters and copy-editors to collaborate. Maybe other reporters need to help edit so that stories don’t go to readers without a second look. No story should reach the reader without first getting even a once-through by another set of eyes.

    As far as breaking news, its more important for a news source to get things right than to report immediately. If a news source immediately reports something with factual errors or misspellings, the paper loses credibility. That’s proof from the article in the Post. People will lose confident and not read your paper, losing readership, money and maybe even the reporter’s job.

    If I was an aspiring journalist, I would approach the industry with as many tools as possible. Convergence is upon the industry, and one should be able to write, shoot and edit. That’s why young journalist should learn how to do everything, so they are prepared to do whatever they are called on.

  6. Lauren Vuchetich
    January 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    When compromises are made in the process of creating news you compromise the credibility of the news as a source. With this I feel copy editors are completely necessary to the news process. It is true that the 24-hour news cycle often makes it nearly impossible for a story to be fully processed and edited before publication, but the values of news-makers need to be balanced.

    The American Journalism Review’s article suggests some good solutions to working with the sped up news cycle such as “buddy editing” and “back editing.” The problem I see with buddy editing is that it takes time away from another story when copy editors are designated to the task of editing. Back editing is a major compromise seeing that deadlines exist for the very reason of not having to change something once it has been published.

    A story’s urgency understandably dictates when it needs to be published, and under certain circumstances small unimportant errors may forgivably be overlooked. It’s the job of journalists to deliver the news in its truest form without errors that could potentially alter the meaning of the story’s contents.

  7. Darcie Samuelson
    January 25, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Are copy editors still needed?
    In my opinion the role of an editor is and always will be vital to the news room. Even as we enter a faster paced age, the same grammar and spelling rules still apply. In the experience I have had with journalism, the editor not only looks over stories and corrects them, but they are also responsible for answering any questions the reporters may have. The best stories evolve out of the collaboration of several individuals, the copy editor included. I think everyone should edit their own work, but even the best reporters and writers can overlook mistakes in their own writing. This is why the editor is so important. Without editors many stories will not get a second look or opinion before they are put out for the world to see. This is a big issue because simple grammar mistakes can distract readers or discourage them from reading the article at all. If publications cannot even get their grammar correct, the public will not be able to trust that the information in the stories is correct either.
    As the news makes a move for the internet this issue becomes more important. In today’s world it seems that anyone can post something on the web and be called a journalist. What sets citizen journalists apart from real journalist is the background training. Not only do journalism students learn how to write an interesting news story, but they also know how to properly edit themselves. Anytime a story or article is published, either on the internet or in a newspaper, it should be overlooked by someone other than the writer. Someone else needs to give it a second opinion and edit it for grammar mistakes. For this role editors need to evolve and be able to match the fast pace of the internet.
    As a future writer I think that editors are very important. I think that I am decent with grammar and spelling but I don’t always see my mistakes in my stories or writing. Having a fresh pair of eyes go over my work helps me become a better writer because I realize what may make sense in my mind does not always convey to the reader on paper. Having an editor overlook will also prevent simple grammar mistakes from being published and distracting the readers.

  8. Courtney Smith
    January 26, 2010 at 1:33 am

    I think that both Andrew Alexander and Carl Sessions Stepp’s articles have valid points. In my opinion, copy editors are definitely still needed. However, I do think there is room for improvement in what defines the role of an editor. Because news is being reported faster every day, there is an even greater need for editors than before. When journalists have less time to write their articles, they also have less time to edit them. This creates an especially big problem when the article also doesn’t go through an editor. When an article gets printed with typos or misleading information, the writer loses credibility.

    But even though I believe editors are still needed, I also believe that journalists should act as their own editors. Journalists should be able to proof their own articles for mistakes, but also have the convenience of passing the article along to an editor before sharing it with the public. A writer is certainly capable of catching errors in their own work, but after reading and re-reading their article, it’s very likely that they will miss something that an editor could easily find and fix.

  9. Shea Carlson
    January 26, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Are editors still needed? Or should their roles be redefined?
    Editors will always be needed because citizens want a solid, well written newspaper to get their news from. Small spelling or punctuation errors get annoying quickly and will make readers shy away from a paper that features these mistakes. Alexander talks in his about how small mistakes are taking over newspapers due to lack of staff, however this is not an excuse. Editors now have more than one responsibility with the rise of online journalism, their time is split between both and errors slip through the cracks daily. An editors job has changed drastically even over the last ten years. They must now worry about keywords and online links. To answer the question, yes, editors are still needed in many ways, also their roles have already been redefined. However, I do not believe the general public understands this, and thus does not understand errors in the media.
    Are there other ways to ensure quality, particularly when stories are posted quickly online?
    According to the Alexander article there is already technology to detect spelling and grammer, however in the future it might be able to do more. Programs that can find out if a word has two meanings and can alert the writer if they are using the wrong word. This would help out the early situations in Alexander’s article such as “breaks” and “brakes.” A clear answer would be to just hire more editors, however in this newspaper recession that we seem to find ourselves in, it would be hard to find a company that wants to throw money at something they already have.
    Do these articles make you think differently about your own role as a future journalist? How?
    These articles haven’t really changed my mind on being a journalist, however I did not realize that mistakes like the ones featured in Alexanders article were being made daily. I’ve always thought that being a journalist held a lot of prestige and thus mistakes were made seldom if ever. I have never wanted to be an editor in my life, despite how interesting it seems, so these articles did not make me think differently about my career. However it did make me question who I will be handing my articles off to and whether or not they’ll be able to catch my mistakes.

  10. Kyle Dump
    January 26, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Asking if copy editors are necessary is like asking if people need air to breath. Frankly, it seems obvious, at least to me, but looking out into our new and expanding digital world… copy editors seem to be quickly getting the boot.

    Who needs correct spelling or good grammar when you’re on the Internet? We don’t have time to spell chuck anyway. Yes, I know there was a type-o back there, but that just serves as an example to prove my point. If only I’d had someone copy-edit this before putting it online, maybe I could’ve saved myself the points taken off (Please don’t take points off! I’m begging you.).

    Copy editors are 100 percent completely necessary. Without them, who would write catchy headlines for all of our great stories, or catch our mistake when we misspell Ahmadinejad 19 times in one story? I’d hate to try and imagine a world without copy editors—it seems dreary and misquoted.

    Unfortunately, the whole world doesn’t see things like I do. Budgets are shrinking, belts are tightening and copy editors are getting canned by the second. So, what ever can we do in this new age of the Internet? I suggest a combining of the two, a metamorphosis if you will. No, I don’t want you to surgically attach yourself to a copy editor; that would be absurd (and expensive). What we must do is each of us become half a copy-editor and half a reporter.

    Self-editing is one of the most marketable tools for a writer to have. The less time someone else has to spend reading your work the better. So why not take that a step farther? I dream of a world where copy-editors and reporters can not just coexist together, but be the same people, a world of less spelling errors and grammatical mess ups, and more peace and harmony.

    I’m sorry, I got a little carried away, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I were, say… an aspiring journalist, I’d definitely want to be at the top of my game when it came to copy editing, but that’s just me.

  11. Rikki Giambruno
    January 26, 2010 at 11:43 am

    It was truly the perfect time for me to read these articles. Just the other day, I noticed multiple typos and style errors in various publications that I read. Not being an AP Style Jedi myself, I can sympathize with the writers and copy editors because my writing is often littered with the same mistakes. With that said, the errors still annoyed me and I internally accused the publications of being carless or lazy. After all, I’m still a student and these people are getting paid.

    Evidently, journalism students aren’t the only ones to notice mistakes. According to these articles, complaints about accuracy can be routine. I’m no expert on the business side of news, but like any moderately-informed person I can tell you that things aren’t looking great. With staff and budget cuts, a 24-hour news cycle and increased competition to have the story first – errors will be made.

    How can publications juggle these responsibilities and still deliver a fast and relatively error-free product? That’s the million dollar question and unfortunately I also don’t have the answer. My best guess is that the new generations of reporters will have even more responsibilities than they do now. Copy editing techniques and responsibilities will have to be adopted by everyone in the newsroom. Currently, the role of copy editor cannot be replaced. Everybody must stay vigilant and make sure a minor mistake doesn’t become a major one. Carl Sessions Stepp proposed that one day an accuracy error could lead to a libelous lawsuit, which would be disastrous.

  12. Alexis See Tho
    January 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    After reading the articles, I realize, more than ever, the importance of a copy editor’s role in newspaper publishing. It is very true that if newspapers cannot get the basics of English right, the public will find it difficult to trust a newspaper with other facts. I was eight years old when my grandparents told me to read the newspapers every day to improve my grasp of the English language. Newspapers are often regarded as the benchmark for proper English and I believe many children are taught to learn from newspapers as I was told.

    It is troubling that when buyouts and layoffs happen, copy editors are one of the first ones cut from the newsroom. It is even more troubling that to compete for speed in delivering news, articles written by journalists, especially those who are on the go, are posted to the newspaper website without going through an editor.

    It is reasonable that editor’s roles change according to the technological improvements and that headlines must be written differently to garner more traffic to the website. The newspaper industry is after all, a business and publishers must figure out a way to gain profit. However, the traditional role of an editor must not be neglected, and that is to read an article for content, organization and language.

    A way to ensure the quality of all stories is to screen them before posting them online. This may cause a story to be delivered in a longer time frame, but accuracy and language of an article should be given precedence to speed of delivering a story.

    These articles make me think of my future work as I aspire to be a mobile journalist where an editor would be far away in a newsroom while I write a story. I will have to be careful of these possible mistakes and check with the assigning editor whenever possible. Accuracy must always be a top priority.

  13. Dylan Guenther
    January 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    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.

  14. Dylan Guenther
    January 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Are editors still needed? Or should their roles be redefined?
    I believe that editors are definitely still needed. They make sure the stories go out without errors or inconsistencies. With the transformation that newsrooms are going through puts a lot of added pressure on editors. Their is an ever increasing demand for more news faster than ever before. The role of editors does need to be redefined to adapt to be able to handle this fast moving journalism. They get less time to edit articles. The layoffs of editors is unfortunate as well. With there being less editing of articles, there have been more and more mistakes in the news.

    Are there other ways to ensure quality, particularly when stories are posted quickly online?
    This need to faster information also puts more pressure on reporters to be good editors themselves. A lot of information is going on the web without going through an editor first. The reporter needs to make sure there are not any errors to ensure the best quality information makes it to the public. If there are errors and inconsistencies in your writing, people reading it are going to doubt the credibility of your facts as well. They can’t trust an article to be factual if it has grammatical errors. They lose trust in you as a writer.

    Do these articles make you think differently about your own role as a future journalist? How?
    I have always assumed that when I get into the world of journalism it is going to be a fast paced business. I use the web to get most of my news so I know what the demand is. It is almost unquenchable. Our job as the next generation of Journalists is to adapt to the expectations of our readers. If that means becoming as good of an editor as reporter, then so be it.

  15. Nick French
    January 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I think editors are a complete necessity in newsrooms, publishers and online affiliates alike. It’s a matter of credibility, and the absence of an editor’s vigilance would strike an inevitable lack of trust amongst readers. A good journalist should pride his/her self on grammatical integrity, but I believe that the editor’s role is underestimated (especially from a business standpoint).

    It’s my hope that any writer wouldn’t want a machine to craft their story for them. Reporters and editors to experience themselves in one another’s fields, I suppose that’s why I’m writing this blog for an editing class. I’ll still give journalism a shot.

  16. Reed Samson
    January 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    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?

    The short answer to this question is yes, copy editors are still needed. The long answer, however, takes into account the business side of journalism as well as the necessity to stay on top of the technological aspect of it. The articles pointed out the obvious results of cutting back on copy editors. More and more grammatical mistakes and errors are being noticed in prestigious publications, which are hurting the credibility of these papers.

    I’m not sure the roles of copy editors need to change, but the scope of things they edit may need to be broadened. Getting news uploaded onto the internet as fast as possible and garnering interest through key words have become necessary for the business aspect of newspaper publishing. I liked the idea of “previewing” (where copy goes to a holding directory to be edited before live posting), it seemed like a compromise between speed and careful editing.

    The articles pointed out a lot of the same things that many professors and my advisor have stated, that we might be studying for a job that doesn’t exist yet. I think journalists will have to accept more roles and responsibilities to adapt to the future of the business. Copy editing cannot be cut out, but reporters need to be able to edit their own work and not rely on copy editors. The articles also brought up the use of technology for catching mistakes. It can be a great tool to use but I agree with the article’s viewpoint of using it as a safety net and not the final check.

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