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One editor too many?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by spud, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. spud

    spud Member

    I recently did a gamer that went through my SE, and when he got done he sent it to the copy desk as usual. But I guess we've got a new guy there, and he edited the hell out of my story. Completely reworked it. Not only that, but they fudged on a fact (actually added an incorrect fact into the lede), and it's pretty blatant. So now I'm the idiot who can't figure out what day the damn game was on.

    Now I'm all for an SE pitching in what he knows and changing some things (and he didn't change all that much, so I know the story wasn't THAT terrible), but is two too much? And aren't they just supposed to cut it down to fit it in the allotted space? Or do you guys prefer having more people critique your work?

    I am not happy. Do I have a right to be angry?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    One editor too many? Unpossible!

    So, let me get this straight. You turned in a story (on deadline?) and the sports editor went through it (didn't just glance at it?) and sent it to the copy desk, where an editor gave it a complete overhaul and screwed up something.

    Sounds pretty standard to me.

    Seriously, if the sports editor had his way with the story, the copy editor shouldn't be making wholesale changes without talking to you or the editor.

    I would go to the SE and talk to him about it.
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Once the copy editor moves beyond simple fixes like commas and whatnot, the story has to go through further review.

    Somebody has to edit the editor, after all.
  4. boots

    boots New Member

    I would talk with your SE at once. No one is perfect but when errors are edited into a story, that is a problem that must be addressed.
    As for what they did to your story, take a critical look and see if the changes ACTUALLY made your story better. In this business, everyone has an ego but remember, copy editors have to be paid to do something besides watching TV for six hours.
  5. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    no editor should be making wholesale changes and lede changes -- including the SE -- without talking to the writer, even on deadline.
  6. boots

    boots New Member

    I agree. If the story was reworked as bad as the writer says it was, if I was the SE and the story was that poorly written, the reporter and I would be having a nice chat about what is expected.
  7. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    I don't get this.

    On one hand, you've got the DPs of the world decrying the lack of good copy editing and the concentration on newspaper design.

    Now, you're saying that a copy editor should limit his editing to the bare grammar/punctuation essentials.

    I'm not quite sure the 21st century desk man can win here.
  8. boots

    boots New Member

    No he can't win. He can only hope to get even but a good desk man makes a story better. He doesn't edit when there is no need to edit.
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    On a major-league desk, there's going to be more than two people editing a story. It's going to go through a content editor, a rim man, a slot man and then someone's going to read it on a page proof. If it's a project or takeout, the SE's probably going to read it, too. So "one editor too many" is kind of naive because if you move up to a large paper, you're almost never going to have one set of eyes on story. And, anyway, the number of people editing your work has nothing to do with the problem of one editor making a mess of things.

    On most large sports desks, notes mode is used so that each layer of editing can see what's been done by previous layers. When slotting I have many times restored a writer's original writing if I thought the editing was overzealous and the copy editor couldn't justify the changes.

    Of course major changes ought to be run past writers, time permitting. Usually when copy editors "forget" to do this, coincidentally it's a story written by someone who has a history of being an asshole when the desk calls. I wouldn't flinch at calling anyone about their story, but some people believe it's not worth the aggravation and try to duck it.
  10. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    God, I wish our paper, which circulation-wise would be considered a 'major-league' paper I think, had that many editors on ANY night, not just on one story.
  11. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    What he said. And we're "major league" and that is our process.
  12. accguy

    accguy Member

    At my place, the guy in charge of the desk has a pretty simple rule for the folks on the desk and one that is appreciated by me. He says that if the desker thinks it's important enough to change the reporters lede, then it's also important enough for the desker to call said reporter.

    Seems fair to me.
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