Copyeditors and Credibility

February 11th, 2010 in Ethics and Legal Issues by April Michelle Davis 0

In a blog post, “Up on the soapbox,” Kathy Schenck discusses the importance of copyeditors in helping publications and authors to maintain their credibility.

She says that, “Copy editors are the guardians of credibility. Their loyalty lies first with the reader, not the reporter who wrote the story or the editor who moved it. They test-drive content to ensure it meets high standards for accuracy, fairness and readability. They correct and tighten and polish, and write inviting headlines and informative photo captions. They help maintain a newspaper’s voice and sense of place by knowing their publications and Web sites better than almost anyone.”

While  I agree with all of the value Schenck says that copyeditors add to publications, she gives the example of a company that owns several newspapers that was thinking about outsourcing copyediting. She then says that outsourcing copyediting leads to skimping on copyediting.

While freelance copyediting may be something new for the newspaper industry, it has been around for a long time in the book publishing process. Though Schenck does mention that some book publishers have skimped on fact checkers, that is a different process than the editing process, and is sometime performed by separate people, so those two cannot be equally compared.

Freelance copyediting could be what the newspaper business needs to remain afloat in the digital age. Schenck says that, “A copy editor in Green Bay is unlikely to know the nuances of Wausau or the other Wisconsin communities Gannett serves.” However, if newspapers are moving to the Internet, local nuances will not be as much of a factor because the newspapers could be read by non-local people.