Sunday, February 1, 2015

Copy editors are an expense some publishers don’t want

To save money, many news publishers have cut the ranks of copy editors and fact checkers. The result has been a lot of Internet LOLs as the public shares the latest typos, misspellings and other errors copy editors presumably would have caught.
When I started out in the newspaper business in the mid-1980s, news stories would pass through several editors before they were published. Reporters didn’t even write their own headlines.
Today in the 24-hour news cycle online, copy editors are seen as a bottleneck and an unnecessary expense.
Reporters these days write their own headlines, do search engine optimization (SEO) and often supply their own photos and videos. If a typo or error gets through, and it’s seen later, someone will edit it online after it’s published. Print editions are stuck with the mistakes.
Today, spell checking applications in word processor software have largely replaced copy editors. But spell check won’t catch many mistakes as the following examples prove.

“We may never no why he attacked” – headline from the Detroit Free Press in August 2012. (See image at top.)

“Let is snow, let is snow, let is snow” – headline from Brattleboro Reformer in Brattleboro, Vt., on Dec. 27, 2012.

“Atlanta’s Snow Debacle 2014! What happen? Why It Happen? Can it happen Again?” – headline from The Atlanta Voice for the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2014, issue.

The Birmingham News in Birmingham, Ala., misidentified a bunch of classic rockers in a graphic for a feature in March 2014.

See also “The year in media errors and corrections 2014” from the Poynter Institute.

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