NEW YORK: Imagine bringing out a newspaper of repute without a proper copy editing desk! All newspapers have an army of sub-editors, senior sub-editors, chief subs and so on, depending upon the newspaper's circulation and sundry other factors.
They are the people who prevent faux pas and spelling mistakes, check facts, rewrite shoddy paras, tighten up drafting, and basically make the news or articles readable. Often, they help keep editors from going to jail, or being hauled up for breach of law.
In a protest marked with sub-editors' creativity, copy editors carried placards like
<<"This sign wsa not edited.”>>
during a protest in front of the NYT offices last week.
Now, the venerable New York Times seems to have decided to do away with them, or at least 50 of them. And the angry army of copy editors and reporters is up in arms against the newspaper's management.
You can bet good money that the rage-filled letters that copy editors and reporters have written to NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn were without any spelling or grammar mistake.
"We have begun the humiliating process of justifying our continued presence at The New York Times,” the letter from the copy desk began.
The reporters of NYT have fired a separate missive, slamming Baquet and Kahn, and standing by the often unsung copy desk.
"Editors — and yes, that especially means copy editors — save reporters and The Times every day from countless errors, large and small,” the reporters said.
They termed the plan to fire copy editors as a move that was "ill-conceived and unwise."
The latest fracas at the NYT precedes what is being seen as "perhaps the most fundamental restructuring to newsroom operations" in the history of the newspaper, though the management said it was merely "eliminating a free standing copy desk” they and was not eliminating copy editing.
In a protest marked with sub-editors' creativity, copy editors carried placards like <<"This sign wsa not edited.”>> during a protest in front of the NYT offices last week.
In their letter, copy editors said: "We only ask that you not treat us like a diseased population that must be rounded up en masse, inspected and expelled...After all, we are...the immune system of this newspaper, the group that protects the institution from profoundly embarrassing errors, not to mention potentially actionable ones.”
The NYT's move of cutting down the 100 strong team of copy editors to just about 50, that too by adjusting them in new roles, comes after a newsroom-wide copy-editing overhaul last year. At that time, desks were consolidated, and many were assigned new roles and duties.
Blasting the management, the copy editors wrote: "In fact, we feel more respected by our readers than we do by you."
They called the elimination of the copy desk as "a disaster in the making" said the decision "betrays a stunning lack of knowledge" of what copy editors do.
Asked for a comment, a copy editor working with a Chandigarh-based English language daily said she often feels that at times, some of the English language newspapers he gets to read have stories and articles that seem to have escaped the copy editors’ attention altogether. "So, maybe it is possible to bring out a newspaper without a copy desk. Many a newspaper that I read seem to have been brought out without copy editors in any case,” she chuckled, tongue firmly in cheek.
(Pic courtesy: HOWARD SIMMONS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
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