Don’t you think it is just a bit hypocritical for a newspaper that recently terminated its copy desk chief, its wire editor and about half its copy editors to run an op-ed about the importance of copy editors?
On Tuesday the Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a piece under the title “A time to publicly celebrate contributions of editors.”
“The job of copy editor is often associated with newspapers, and indeed, many people in the editing profession began as newspaper copy editors. But as newspapers have cut copy editors, other organizations have kept them, or added them,” the piece proclaims in an edition of the paper that contains more than a few typos.
Another job of copy editors is to localize wire stories, such as the banner in today’s paper about the Obama administration extending for a couple of more years the cancellation of health insurance policies that don’t comply with the ObamaCare “law.” (It must not be a law if it can be arbitrarily waived by the dictator.) The story states: “Insurance regulators in at least 23 states have allowed renewals to go through. Other states have required consumers to buy new policies that comply with the health care law.”
No one bothered to point out that Nevada is one of the latter states. A good copy editor would have taken the seconds needed to do so. But copy editors, good or otherwise, are hard to find at the local paper these days.
Someone’s credibility is slipping.
The No. 1 finding of a study for the American Society of Newspaper Editors (The name has since been changed to News Editors since there aren’t enough Newspaper Editors left to fill a phone booth.) in 1999, “Examining Our Credibility,” was: “The public sees too many factual errors and spelling or grammar mistakes in newspapers.” I have a copy of it lying around here somewhere.
The study went on to say:
Each misspelled word, bad apostrophe, garbled grammatical construction, weird cutline and mislabeled map erodes public confidence in a newspaper’s ability to get anything right. One focus group even laughed out loud when asked whether mistakes ever appeared in their paper.
Essentially, readers don’t care whether the reporter was rushed, the staff was down three people, or the copy editor was too busy laying out pages to catch misuses of the common language. Every focus group had something to say on the topic:
- “They used to proofread. I don’t know what they do now.”
- “Every time I pick it up (I see mistakes).”
- “Do they have journalism degrees or did they just get out of kindergarten?”
- “It seems like the paper’s gotten sloppier in the last 10 years.”
- “Jay Leno does his thing on headlines and photos that don’t match the story … and he does 10 or 15 every week. That’s just a small fraction of what’s going on out there.”