Saturday, September 8, 2007
More Cheer on the Newspaper Front
By Stephen Baker
My prediction: Editors will go the way of the linotype machine. Increasingly, human editing will be viewed as an expense and a delay that few can afford. Algorithms, editing software and seach engines will handle much of the work. Communities will bounce around the stories and edit in their own way. In this sense, newspapers will become more like blogs.
A few premium publications will remain edited. And lots of us will flock to them and pay a hefty price, because human editing, when done right, remains a wonderful thing for readers.
If you want to see what the writing looks like without editing, pick up a book. Oh, you might come across one that has actually been edited. (I have a very active editor at Houghton Mifflin, I'm happy to say.) But many books are given a quick line edit and published. From what I've heard, many in the industry are convinced that the key to selling is the concept, the marketing, the blurbs on the back cover-- and that editing just isn't worth the investment. A lot of other print industries, I'm convinced, will come to the same conclusion.
Jeff Jarvis and Dave Morgan add their own thoughts. Jarvis, who sometimes gets on my nerves, is pretty interesting in this piece, reminding us not to confuse the medium of print with the mission, which is journalism.