Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

That’s just rude – let’s bust these myths

By · Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Known: The media profession is evolving.

Known: Technology is enabling new ways to communicate.

Known: Newsrooms are changing.

Known: Some news organizations are laying off a lot of talent.

Known: Some layoffs include every copy editor in the joint.

Now, let’s bust some myths about the role of those editors. 

Busted: They are not “just” proofreaders.

Busted: They do not lean over shoulders.

Busted: They do not hold up progress.

Busted: They do not tell reporters what to do.

Busted: They are not out of touch with the audience.

What, exactly, do those editors do?

Good ones do proofread, and they catch a slew of mistakes and missteps.

Good ones do keep an eye on the clock, which is just as important now with all-the-time digital deadlines as it was important when trucks were lined up outside the loading docks.

Good ones do move copy along, and the only thing they hold up is the integrity and credibility of the entire news organization by their good saves and healthy skepticism.

Good ones do communicate with reporters, and they do it as a conversation about what information needs to get out there — and how.

Good ones do know their audience, and one reason is because they are a part of the local and global community and, importantly, because they care.

What now?

The point here is not an attempt to stop progress. When, really, has the media world not been evolving? Kudos to any media organization that is looking for ways to salvage, save, improve, create, invent, reinvent, revisit and remake what it has — and what it could have — to stay in business and to keep people informed and connected.

But let’s also stay true to the truth when disseminating the news about new models in the media world. Welcome the new ways without disrespecting the former ways. Choose words wisely. Report what you know. Verify what you don’t know. Be sensitive about making generalizations. 

Isn’t all of this what any good editor would do?

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