As Copy Chief of The Campanil, the Associated Collegiate Press conference was definitely an interesting experience. It was interesting due to the fact that there were zero workshops/panels related to or about copy editing. What kind of journalism conference doesn’t even have one panel on copy editing?
Yes, writers are important to a newspaper — but so are copy editors. Yes, writers bring the meat to the barbecue, but it is the copy editors who grill it. If there were only writers in the newsroom, someone better call the doctor because consuming uncooked meat is just a bad idea, all round.
The severe lack of panels relating to copy editing definitely showed in this ACP conference’s collegiate publications.
For example, this article from Otter Realm — California State University, Monterey’s student newspaper — was unfortunately riddled with simple errors that, essentially, took away from the heart of story. From their article, Memoirs of a male feminist, it reads:
“Also I feel calling myself a feminist has the potential of stifling the movement…I am a pro-feminist who is anti-patriarchy, and anti-sexist and in no way am I anti-male,” Emesibe continued.
Emesibe is a victim of gender violence as his father beat and killed his mother at a young age, forcing him into the foster care system, and to move to California.
According to the AP Stylebook, there should be a space before and after ellipses; do not use oxford commas; do use commas in-between two or more independent clauses; and “to move to California” is not an independent clause, so what the duck are you doing with that comma after the word system?
Another example of copy-editing gone wrong was seen in an article by California Baptist University’s student publication The Banner — a publication that placed first in ACP’s 2015 Best of Show Four-Year Less Than Weekly category. According to their article, Professors present at leadership seminar, the eighth paragraph states:
Dr. Chris McHorney, chair of the History and Government Department and professor of political science, voiced his knowledge about the principles of social and political quotients and explained that being a leader means to engage in and build community, as well as empower and include those in the community.
Unless the department is a proper noun, you do not capitalize the department’s name.
But why is this so important, Greta? Why do I have to care about good ‘ole copy editing?
Well, remember when I gave that amazing analogy about barbecue? Remember how I said writers bring the meat, and the copy editors cook it? Well, take the copy editors out of the equation, and all you will have is raw meat, and unless you love raw meat and are immune to food-borne illnesses known to be present in uncooked meat, all I have to say is: have fun at the ER.
But to be serious, copy editing is vital to publications because for readers who are easily distracted or already have a bias against their collegiate publications (face it: no one likes the media), simple grammar and style errors could easily be a turn-off. No busy student wants to read an article in which the publication doesn’t even put in the extra but necessary effort to make their articles flawless. If students really wanted to see a badly edited article, they could easily go onto Buzzfeed. At least on Buzzfeed, there are gifs of cats.