Sunday, August 2, 2009

When a Band-Aid Won't Do

At the risk of sounding as if I'm piling on, I'm wondering how many newspapers, other than The New York Times, could afford to indulge in the Newspaper Copy Editors Full Employment Act, AKA, Alessandra Stanley?

Better yet, how many of you either in the business or forced out in recent months by stupid corporate decisions, would be willing to take on the job of Personal Copy Editor to a mistake-ridden reporter?

I'm holding back on commenting on whether the copy editor who started working on this error-loaded piece on Walter Cronkite and then had to set it aside handled it properly. I don't know the Times' system, and each paper has its own rules and culture about how to deal with story hand-offs. Obviously some are better than others.

But one thing about these trying times: if you've got someone who is adding to the work of a depleted staff, please, think some more about what to do. When people are bleeding all over the battlefield, and your company is down to platoon strength, you can't afford to stop to put a Band-Aid on one of them. It really isn't a good use of your resources.

It's triage time.

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