Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Hats off to this gent

Post Date: Wed Mar 17, 03:25:59 PM

Clay McCuiston, who describes himself as twentysomething, made a mighty fine post to his Copy Massage site in January. Here it is verbatim:

Friday, January 16, 2004
Let's Hear It For the Desk

This site -- and most other material about copy editing -- often gives the impression that editing is a lone pursuit. One pictures the noble copy editor, striving against all odds and a story full of inaccuracies. He or she faces the gale head-on and plows ahead.

Some of that is true. Most of it is not.

Because, you see, no copy editor works alone. Others on the desk help. Others rewrite headlines, catch further mistakes and round up stray bits of lost coding. They make the job possible.

If you have copy edited for any time at all, you know the feeling: A co-worker spots the most glaring, obvious error in a story you just edited. An error you didn't see. A misspelling of the president's name, perhaps. In the headline. (Not a mistake I've seen, mind you, but not far off.) Most people play it cool in a situation like that, but I find myself wanting to bow and kiss the hem of the co-worker's garment.

I offer help to others as well. As the night of editing goes on, I may tweak a headline or rearrange some words. I may notice the caption doesn't jibe with the photo it accompanies. The list goes on.

In the end, no one can do this job in a vacuum. The desk has to watch out for its own. That's how we learn, and that's how we put out a newspaper.

Some people know how to make your day. Thanks Clay.


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