This BuzzFeed post (sponsored by The Economist) gives copy editors their very own top-16 list. I can’t take it too seriously; BuzzFeed is the source of lists about cuddly animals, trashed celebrities, silly hypotheses and wacky recipes — all in one place.
The story, however, makes a great point. Our written communication, online and everywhere else, is sloppy and riddled with errors. It’s nothing new, but maybe the zanier-than-thou forum of BuzzFeed will give it a much-needed viral lift.
I’ve argued here for months that copy editing skills have been snuck into a wide variety of jobs. It’s not as though the news desk refugee is unmarketable. But we’ve marginalized the skill set as we’ve mastered the tasks of non-newspaper industries. The result is that the People in Charge ™ don’t fully grasp the importance of copy editing, and we don’t have the space to practice our craft effectively.
Perhaps we need to see the copy editor title revived. I don’t suggest that it’s dead. But I’ve been on the job market more than once in the past few years, and I rarely see a posting for a “copy editor” — the actual title gets used perhaps 8 percent of the time (in my unscientific estimation).
Maybe it’s a rhetoric thing. Maybe if we more deliberately force the title into use across industries, we’ll experience that long-awaited renaissance in quality content, so our websites, newspapers and billboards don’t look so bloody awful.
What do you think? Could the title of our past light the way for a brighter future?
- On top of everything else, the New York Post needs a copy editor (apple.copydesk.org)
- Confessions of a Copy Editor (volokh.com)
- With love, for the unsung copy editor, by @RFQuotely in reply to @wordpuddle (nextlevelofnews.com)