Good riddance to copy editors

A clever tribute to a fading profession appears in the Washington Post.


Copy editors were fine-tuners, fixing basic but important things that a first line of editing might’nt catch: Typos, errors in facts, spelling, syntax, punctuation, clarity, word usage, style, parallelism, and not letting sentences run on. They would also bear principle responsibility for headlines, photo captions, story jump lines, as well as catching the occasional, inadvertent cultural insensitivity. Because the job requires patience, maturity, intelligence, attention to detail, and an extremely sedentary workday, fat old Jewish ladies have often made good copyeditors.

As I told the staff at Serious Eats when I harangued them with yet another copy-edit-related email, “That sums up what we all have to do with our own posts before giving the queue editor the OK on them. It sums up what the queue editor then needs to do again before hitting the publish button. And it’s what we all need to do while reading over our colleagues’ work after it’s gone up. (But I hope at that point there’d be nothing to catch.)”

Worth clicking through to the whole thing. Bonus: It’s a quiz! See how well you do.