Thursday, June 7, 2007

Is This the Future of Copy Editing?

From a story about life at the San Mateo County Times under MediaNews ownership.

San Mateo County Times has seen its presses unbolted and shipped away. The copy editors -- who check stories for errors and style, put headlines on them and position them in the paper -- have been moved out of the newsroom where they could consult easily with reporters and editors about stories. To cut costs, they've been transferred some 30 miles away to Pleasanton, to a central copy-editing desk, and their numbers have been reduced.

"Copy desks are so thinly staffed that they are making an incredible number of errors," says Mr. Bowman. "These errors are in the headlines and [photo] cutlines so they are glaring.

"They are the kind of errors that destroy our credibility," he complains.

He showed the front page of the April 23 Times. The centerpiece story was about an event in Pacifica, but the headline placed it miles south, in Half Moon Bay. On the same front page a story about the salary gap between men and women claimed to continue on page 6, but copy editors forgot to put the rest of the story in the paper. The day before, the local front page contained a story about a San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting, but the headline attributed the action to Redwood City.

"These mistakes are not made by reporters and editors," he fumes, "but every member of the public thinks we don't know the difference between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay."

"The copy editors are just as dedicated and serious about doing journalism as I am," Mr. Bowman explains. "They simply don't have the time or resources to do the job."

1 comment:

rknil said...

I'd blame this on you, too, but I think even you (maybe) would have enough of a clue to object to something like this.

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