Monday, June 16, 2008

'Where's the Section on Copy Editors?'

Earlier this year, the fancy new Newseum opened in Washington, D.C. The Newseum is a tribute to the news industry. The New York Times' Lawrence Downes checked it out. He asked museum employees where the section on newspaper copy editors was. Turns out there was no section on copy editors. In his column, Downes pays tribute to copy editors. Here are a few excerpts:

Besides fixing grammar, punctuation and style and writing headlines and captions, he says, copy editors "also do a lot more. Copy editors are the last set of eyes before yours. They are more powerful than proofreaders. They untangle twisted prose. They are surgeons, removing growths of error and irrelevance; they are minimalist chefs, straining fat. Their goal is to make sure that the day’s work of a newspaper staff becomes an object of lasting beauty and excellence once it hits the presses."

He continues: "The copy editor’s job, to the extent possible under deadline, is to slow down, think things through, do the math and ask the irritating question."

His column talks about the evolving job of the copy editor. His entire column can be read here.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)