Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You'd rather be in Philadelphia

Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one, because I’m going to tell it anyway.

At the first national conference of the American Copy Editors Society in 1997, someone said that the three hundred of us gathered in Chapel Hill constituted perhaps the largest group of copy editors ever assembled in human history.

When I got back to Baltimore, I repeated that to my wife, at which Kathleen muttered, “Except in Hell.”

Later today I will risk life, limb, and sanity by taking Interstate 95 to Philadelphia for the fourteenth national conference, the first I have been able to attend since 2005.

Though diminished by the recent casualties in the War on Editing, the stalwarts at ACES Philadelphia represent the people who are, against heavy odds, laboring to ensure that what you read in newspapers, magazines, books, and even some Web sites is as accurate and intelligible as they can make it. You cannot imagine how much in their debt you are.

They will be gathering to attend workshops on how they can become more effective practitioners of the craft, they will honor achievements of colleagues, and they will gather in the bar in the evening to lift a cheerful glass and share stories. Nothing could be better, and it is disappointing that I will have to miss the third day because of the technical rehearsal for Annie on Saturday.

I’m unlikely to do much or any blogging while at the conference, but you can take part in it vicariously by following the ACES conference blog. Or, since this is the 381st post at this site since May of last year, you could always rummage around in the archives if you miss me.


  1. Your wife is funny! Did she use to be a reporter?

  2. I'm trying to imagine the conversation of a group of editors gathered over drinks at the bar. Is it really about a plethora of syntax corrections, thesaurus preferences and dangling participles? Or do they talk about Sarah Palin, Tiger Woods, and the Phillies?

  3. My cousin spent decades working for newspapers, eventually becoming City Editor at a paper in one of our larger state capitals. He told me the other day (after I recommended this website to him) that he used to tell his reporters how the copy editors were the only ones who kept them from sounding like idiots on a regular basis, they owed more than they knew to those copy editors, and he wasn't going to allow his reporters to start down the road of criticizing copy editors.

    He left the newspaper business a while back, more's the pity.

  4. overused.

    By the way, NOBODY in the theater biz calls it a technical rehearsal. It's tech. Stop sounding like an old man!

    Your loving daughter

  5. Editors at the bar are like other journalists at the bar; they tell war stories.