Thursday, February 7, 2013

Deleting Copy Editors

English: President George W. Bush speaking at ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When the intrepid "TUOL" staff broke in its first reporter's notebook decades ago, the conventional wisdom was that copy editors led a better-paying, blessed existence of more regular work hours and  greater job security than journalists in the field.

If those halcyon days ever existed, they're gone, as a post this week cited a survey of 985 publications by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) that revealed that one-third of copy editors employed in 2007 no longer hold those positions. An ASNE newsroom poll released last April tallied 5,675 working copy editors in 2012, compared to 10,676 copy editors in 2002, a mind-numbing 46 percent drop-off.

Moreover, the once widely held perception that copy editors were part of the management team is gone, as the position often is viewed as a prime target by cost-cutters looking to compensate for declining ad revenues and shrinking circulation. It is commonplace nowadays for newspaper chains, such as GateHouse Media, to consolidate the copy editor function of multiple papers at one location (see "TUOL" post 1/18/12) or for smaller papers to outsource copy editing to larger papers (see "TUOL" post 3/10/10).

Incidentally, that the ink-stained wretches of "TUOL" opted for reporting in the field instead of perching at the copy desk was not foresight so much as an inability to sit still for long stretches.

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