Sunday, March 15, 2015

This week in hubris

From Romenesko comes the sad news that staffers at the McClatchy editing hub in Charlotte will, in effect, have to play musical chairs for their jobs. Would it be rude to point out that one reason for keeping more, rather than fewer, "digital specialists" around is their ability to keep the job descriptions from saying stuff like "at the front end the of story"?

A decent respect for the laws of causality and probability should make you wary of  assigning any one outcome to any one personnel decision. If you bid to improve the defense by signing a new shortstop who averages one error in 50 chances, that error is as likely to show up on the first chance of the season as the 50th, and a second one could happen on the second or 51st or 99th -- or not. But when you force the shortstop to handle more chances under worse conditions -- say, by playing three infielders and telling the shortstop to work smarter, not harder -- you can reasonably expect more "They does?" headlines.

Editing, according to the documents posted at Romenesko, is still part of the position. It comes in fifth, behind technology and such syntactic gems as "Fluency in use and power of social media such as, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit":

Competency as copy editors who work for accuracy and clarity on a variety of topics from crime to weather to sports. They must also understand the value of voice and how it plays in the digital media.

I think I'm starting to form a sort of Buzzfeedy understanding of "voice and how it plays in the digital media." It's something like "44 medieval copy editors who remember "voice" from when this part of McClatchy was still Knight-Ridder and are so over it."

Insights and comments from the potential victims of this maneuver are especially welcome.



Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Same at Gannett. Just got done listening to Josh Awtry, Gannett's regional head at Asheville/Greenville. In a way, though, I'm not sure this doesn't help us as editing teachers by at least tying editing to the digital stream whereas before it's been portrayed as the choke point. It does mean we're going to have to continue figuring out how to produce unicorns, however.

8:34 AM, March 16, 2015  

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