An Appreciation for Testy Copy Editors

Being who I am and how I earn my meager living, one of the things I spend time on is scouring the internet for any and all information I can find on publishing, its problems and its possible futures, or lackthereof.  One of my favorite websites to frequent is Newspaper Death Watch.  I was originally turned onto the site by a link from Mike Dixon’s great Elkton website, Someone Noticed.   Newspaper Death Watch was put together and maintained by Paul Gillin, a man with a quarter century of experience with newspapers and journalism, and a decade’s worth of time spent pursuing these functions online.  Gillin always has an interesting collection of links culled from all around the web, from straight news about cutbacks, bankruptcies and restructurings of media companies of all sizes, to long, detailed essays discussing the past, present and future of an industry in flux.  Generally, some pretty interesting stuff.

He also has a rather extensive list of links to other blogs relating to the industry and journalism down the right hand side of the page where I often peruse.  Each of these links leads, in turn, to even more links, and you know how it is from there.  I almost always run across some interesting stuff in my meanderings, like this one. I ran across Testy Copy Editors.org four or five layers deep in blogs from Newspaper Death Watch, where I started.  How are newspapers supposed to compete with this, an almost infinitely layered array of information about any subject imaginable, grouped by links with no centralized controls whatsoever?  Most newspaper websites I’ve seen are like flyers stapled to a telephone pole in comparison.

Anyway, When I clicked on the link, I was immediately struck by the line right under the header; “We’ve made it more difficult and inconvenient to register!”  It was written with such obvious pride that I immediately was a fan.  The link itself brought me to this rather fierce thrashing of an innocuous local article about some Little League game in New Haven, Connecticut.  Being of conflicting personalities as both a master of writing long-winded, pointless narratives and an editor who hates having to read long-winded pointless narratives, this critical look at some bad writing was very illuminating, to me anyway.  It’s also really funny.  For all of you out there who fancy yourselves as writers, it can give you a little taste of what we as editors go through when reading your work.  Keep that in mind, please.


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Published in: on August 29, 2009 at 6:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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