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Your fault, OR, what are they paying those darned copy editors for?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by beardpuller, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. beardpuller

    beardpuller Active Member

    Just wondering if, when you see something wrong in your story in print (a typo, factual error, whatever), how much blame you assess yourself and how much you blame your desk.
    I ask because I recently had a discussion about this with another writer who also works on the same staff. I had taken full responsibility for a complicated mistake that started with me, and he was aghast. He felt the people editing the piece should have caught it. My stance was, it would have been nice if they had caught it, but it was my mistake and my responsibility, 100 percent.
    I know from talking to the desk that this guy takes the same attitude toward his own work -- spelling, facts, dates, it's all "details" better left to them. He sees himself more or less as the "big picture" guy.
    And deskfolk on the board -- do we try to pass the buck to you too much? And if there's a typo in the lede, do you feel as bad about it as the man or woman whose name is on the story?
  2. Typos, misspellings, etc., are on the copy editor.

    Fact errors are on the reporter. If the copy editor catches one, consider it a bonus.
  3. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Gee, kinda hard for your mistake to get into the paper if you didn't make it in the first place.
  4. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    The correct answer.
  5. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    I take full responsibility of mistakes under my byline. Whether I made them, an editor or someone tooling around in the system, once it hits print and mike311gd is above it, it's my mistake. I'll talk with the people on the desk in the office, but usually they find me first to apologize. No hard feelings ever because we all make mistakes. But when I am questioned by a player or a coach or someone else, I never blame the desk. They've got so much shit on their plates, they don't need some punk kid piling it on higher and higher. Besides, I'm sure I don't make their job perfect, either.
  6. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    It's nice when the desk catches and corrects a factual mistake, but as a writer it's your responsibility to get it right in the first place. But no one's perfect. It happens to us all.
  7. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Factual errors would be easier to spot if papers had more vets on the desk. Nowadays, there's a lot of jumping around. Institutional knowledge that would save some of these mistakes from getting in the paper is virtually non-existent.
  8. I've had mistakes edited into my stories by the desk on many occasions. I punch the wall then never bring it up again, cause those guys make me look good way more than they make me look bad.
  9. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    In that case, kinda hard for the mistake to get into the paper if THEY didn't make it.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    You make the mistake, it's 100 percent yours.

    Copy editor introduces the mistake, it's 100 percent theirs (unless they were trying to correct some error you had or unclear writing, then maybe it's 50-50).

    If they copy editor puts a bad hed or screws up something in the story, I sure as hell don't take the hit for it. If someone asks, I blame the desk. They can believe me or not.
  11. Walter_Sobchak

    Walter_Sobchak Active Member

    For high school sports, can the desk bear any responsibility for misspeelled names? Unless the player is all-area, are we agreed that incorrect spellings are 100 percent on the writer?
  12. Bump_Wills

    Bump_Wills Member

    Your colleague's attitude stinks.

    Here's where I come down on this: I might edit 20 or more items in a night. I'll do my very best to catch all the mistakes -- grammar, style, flaws in logic, factual. But I won't catch them all, and any mistakes that come from you are yours. I'll feel like absolute shit if I miss something, especially if it's a biggie, and that feeling will be my burden. The mistake itself will be your burden.

    That said, the entire process isn't a bunch of tiny vacuums. When a mistake gets through, it's because the various filters didn't work. A reporter errs in the first place, the assigning editor misses it, the copy editor misses it, the person proofing the page misses it. It's imperative that we have each others' back.
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