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Reading between the lines of a copy editor’s story

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Cameron Carlow, copy editor for The Omaha World-Herald Sports Department. (Photo courtesy of dataomaha.com)

By Reid Kilmer
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Cameron Carlow is a copy editor for The Omaha World-Herald sports department. As you read the World-Herald sipping your cup of joe, you might not realize all the work that went into making those words clear and accurate. In addition to the reporters and writers are the editors who check for grammar errors and factual mistakes. They also work to catch the eye – and attention – of readers.

Carlow said he is a huge sports fan and loves the fact that as a sports copy editor he gets to read a variety of sports stories every day. Some of the cons about his job are the long, strange hours. He works the night shift, which hurts his social life, and he said he is under constant stress because of deadline pressure.

A grammatical mistake that he said he catches all the time is the misuse of hyphens. Pregame, postgame and nonconference are the three words that constantly get hyphens inserted when they don’t need to. Carlow said he also receives many calls from mothers who complain about their child’s name being misspelled or want their son/daughter to be on the front page.

It wasn’t an easy pathway for Carlow. His career started slowly when he transferred to the University of Nebraska-Omaha after the college he was attending dropped its journalism program. Once he moved back to the metro area, he worked at a gas station where he ran into a Creighton sports writer several times. Through this contact, he made a connection within the Omaha World-Herald and was hired to answer phones on Friday nights while attending college. Two years later, the World-Herald hired him after graduation.

His advice is to get into news outlets early, do the grunt work and never ask for days or weekends off. Carlow’s favorite sport to cover is football. He said there’s never a typical day at his job. Many of his hours are spent editing stories and writing what he hopes are clever headlines. Other days he spends organizing sections of the paper and helps with the online version when he has free time. Not only does he edit, but he also writes his own fantasy football weekly column for the Sunday edition.

Copy editing and sports make up Carlow’s life. He said he enjoys going to work every day and understands his job isn’t for everyone. He wants eager copy editors to know he is more than willing to help get them into the business. You can follow him on Twitter @ccarlow.

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