Friday, June 02, 2006

Voices from the future, part II

With the summer editing season officially upon us, a few more comments from the Thin Red Line of the future. These are from essays reflecting on one of the semester's final requirements, a two-hour shift on an actual copydesk:

I think the copy editor role is similar to that of an offensive lineman -- people only notice them when they screw up, but try winning a game without them.

The fact that the man had killed himself simplified matters in the libel situation, but the story did make me realize that we are working real stuff, not just workbook exercises anymore.

My high school English teacher, a self-described "word nerd," would have loved the company of the desk. It's a work environment I could get used to, though I felt a twinge of traitorous guilt when I laughed at a joke about some reporter's mistake.

It was no longer an abstraction or something to learn just to get through another homework exercise, but was information that will be useful in my daily work in a newsroom, regardless of my position (unless I am a janitor).

I'm a dork, and I think copyediting is pretty nifty.

Copyediting is hard work. I appreciate this more now, but this just showed me how much more enjoyable writing is.

Some of the words from my C-deck on that Thai chicken story appeared to have made the final version. Add one more item to the category of things that taste like chicken: small editorial victories.

I really wasn't sure how I was supposed to come up with a creative headline for a story that was so short and unexciting.

I trust I am learning to become distrustful.

Some of you out there did the same assignment last year, or five years ago, or six years ago. (Yes. In a box. In the attic.) How does desk life look now, compared to what you thought then?


Anonymous Strayhorn said...

I loved working on the desk. It was a good place for me and addressed all my strengths - a sick sense of humor, a willingness to jam it to the powerful, and a cast-iron stomach to deal with the food.

But, mostly, I liked the sense of having accomplished something every day: behold, a three-edition paper, on time and on budget.

You will be astonished to know that the story of your humble narrator and your humble blogger putting out the Christmess Day edition by themselves is still being told around the Star-Gnus.

Who needs a staff when you have solid copyeditors?

12:06 PM, June 02, 2006  
Anonymous Belew said...

I worked the reporting side of the desk in the neighborhood of 18 years. Several under the watchful pica poles of Messrs. Vultee and Strayhorn.
Defection to the copydesk was a real eye-opener. Saving a reporter from looking thick as a brick sometimes brought the unlooked-for reward of a thorough cussing. Sometimes it yielded a heartfelt thanks.
More than anything, working the copydesk was fun. A good desk is a bunch of fun folks working with a single purpose, sort of like building sand castles day after day.

4:26 PM, June 02, 2006  

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