Monday, August 24, 2009

How it works

Here’s the deal:

Step 1: You (corporation, private firm, educational institution, nonprofit organization) invite me in for a little chat about the ways that your operation would benefit from the presence of an able and experienced editor/writer/teacher/trainer (me).

Step 2: Persuaded, you engage my services.

Step 3: In return, you pay me wages.

Really, nothing could be simpler.

How I can tell it's Monday

Item 1: The first eight words of a story on the front page of a major metropolitan newspaper delivered to my house: Anthony "Tony" Fein, a former Iraq War veteran. He used to be a veteran but is no longer?

Item 2: A private message asks what advice I could give to someone interested in newspaper copy editing. My reply:

Newspapers have been laying off copy editors in large numbers, partly for overall staff reductions to cut costs but also out of a mistaken belief that accuracy and precision are not worth the expense. [See Item 1.] Consequently, there are very few copy-editing jobs available at newspapers, and there is a large population of out-of-work editors, along with a few students emerging from journalism programs, competing for them. I could not advise anyone that going into editing is a shrewd career move.

Item 3: Last week ground toward its end with a post about a freelancer who sent out a prefabricated story, complete with quotes, so that a source’s name could be typed in the blank. That was bad enough, but Pam Robinson reports on a public relations firm that has its interns posting bogus reviews praising a client’s products.

Item 4: If you doubted that an online publication could rival newspapers for interminable, rambling, self-indulgent articles, I invite you to examine jjmoney62’s structural analysis at Testy Copy Editors of a story about a Little League player.

Item 5: I am already seriously behind on four editing projects.