John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Friday, December 18, 2009

In case you missed it ...

A recent comment on the post “Christmas is coming. Save yourselves” said:

I can't wait until all copy editors are out of work. You people are the pathetic parasites of the newspaper industry. What do you actually create?

Had I been inclined to bandy words with such a fellow, I could have pointed out that on this blog alone and its predecessor at Baltimoresun.com, there are hundreds of examples of sound advice from a copy editor — not to speak of the posts and articles from fellow copy editors that I have cited over the past four years.

I might also have mentioned, had I thought the commenter susceptible to rational discussion, my experience that the most professional and accomplished writers I have worked with over the past three decades have been the ones most appreciative of copy editors, and that the writers most hostile to the copy desk have typically been those most in need of editing.

Instead, I contented myself with giving an answer to his rhetorical question about what copy editors actually create:

Value.