Thursday, March 17, 2011

What do you think an Editors Job should be?

Does your online media site have editors? Some do. Some don’t.

Regardless, admit it, please…we all need editing help.

This article below is part 2 of a pair of online diaries that were created to encourage you to ask certain questions about what kind of editing you would like to have.–KAS

Part 2–On the Topic and Discussion of Editing–and what does one expect or hope for

By Kevin Anthony Stoda

Let’s discuss the different options of what an EDITOR DOES or doesn’t do


This is the second part of a diary submission concerning editing. I raise the topic at this time because I recently wrote a very popular piece that was not edited nor revised in a manner I might have anticipted. That article was on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

(It turns out to be the most popular piece I have ever written. The submission is republished in the NOTES section below.)

I’ve had disagreements on editing with several websites over the years–and have wanted to encourage a greater discussion of, on, or about “editing” and what we in the modern age of internet media believe editing practices are and should be. For example, are editing procedures general guidelines or are they hard and fast rules to be followed?

What do we do when a story is hot? Do we apply the same rules as when an article cannot be dated?

What exactly can or should be edited?

What actually needs to be edited?


I may have a different background than many new media types and newer students of journalism and publishing.

1985, as student of journalism : My last journalism or communications course was in the spring of 1985. I wrote for the college paper that came out only every two weeks. We were to keep paragraphs short because, in that way, an editor could move the copy around into different paragraph combinations. This was done partially to do with available news spacing, length of article and relevance.

Alternatively, a longer piece ccould be either broken into a two part series or into two seperate articles in the same addition.

Writers, journalists, columnists, and editorialists were expected to do theire best in choosing the language and grammar that fit their audience.

Despite all this professional care in writing up our submissions for the newspaper, there still might be some grammar errors or typos & spelling to be dealt with by editors before any story made it to press.

1985-Present as teacher of languages: I have been teaching since autumn of 1985. Even before that, some students on my own campus back in Kansas had discovered that I was a fairly good editor (or fairly good at correcting) when I looked through their papers and final projects. It turned out years later that I have attention deficit, which enables me to do boring work like editing & correcting for lengthy periods of time, i.e. when I can shut out any other distractions in my life for a few hours.

When I went back to grad school in Texas, other students noted that I had this editing and revising skill. Since I teach English as a foreign language, I work with non-native speakers on their writing for semesters and years at a time. Part of the process of editing is to help people revise and correct their own errors–but I also need to take the red pen out and help them see what they are missing at times.

On the one hand, I can see others writing for ours at a time and aid them in making corrections, I have trouble seeing my own writing foibles (unless I take a long break from my work and look at it with completely new eyes). Again, the is tunnel vision is likely due to my adult attention deficit.

2007 to Present as blogger for OP-ED, et. al: I have noted that editors at OP-Ed and other internet media organizations (like online journals) all have different concepts of what editing is and what editors do and should do.

On the one hand, I understand that they are overwhelmed and have to limit their efforts. On the other hand, they might look at a document and decide whether they might more quickly edit a hot topic document to their liking rather than applying some rigorous protocol to each doucment.

Op-Ed, for example, could make a note in an email, “We have revised this docuemnt a tad-bit. If you have any question or feel we have been unfair, you have 24 hours or 48 hours to get back to us or to go online and try and revise the now-already-posted submission.



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