It’s not just a copy desk. It’s also a content desk.
One of the strengths of the Missourian’s interactive copy desk is that our editors also have been trained as reporters. They know how to gather information. They know how to write. They understand storytelling.
Of course, throughout the industry, copy editors and journalists with desk backgrounds contribute to the creation of news content. On the print side, in addition to writing headlines and other display type, copy editors compile packages of news briefs and content such as celebrity-news columns. At the San Jose Mercury News, the skills and knowledge of Silicon Valley I acquired as an editor on our copy desks transferred easily to my most recent job as an online editor and writer. Numerous former copy editors, for that matter, have found work as producers, editors and writers for news websites. Levi Sumagaysay, my former colleague on the Merc’s business copy desk, has brought her voice and technology-industry expertise to SiliconValley.com’s popular Good Morning Silicon Valley blog. Jeremy C. Owens, my successor as writer of MercuryNews.com’s daily 60-Second Business Break online newsletter, is also a veteran of the Merc’s copy desk.
The news industry, of course, has been in an often painful transition as readers shift from print to online — and now mobile — news sources. It’s been a struggle for many of us, but I’m optimistic about the future. The new CEO of the Merc’s parent company believes that “digital revenues can pay for newspaper newsrooms.” Publications throughout the country are shifting to a digital-first model while still maintaining high standards for their print publications.
The Missourian has been a leader in the transition to a “Web first” newsroom, and copy editors have been central to that change — literally. The Missourian moved its copy editors to a new interactive copy editing desk (affectionately known as the ICE box) in the center of the newsroom, adjacent to a hub desk staffed by news and city editors. Nick Jungman, my predecessor as the Missourian’s Knight visiting editor/visiting assistant professor, chronicled the transition on this blog.
Thanks to the efforts of Nick and other Missourian editors, the ICE desk editors are the day-to-day producers of ColumbiaMissourian.com. In addition to editing stories and writing headlines, they curate links and build features such as photo galleries. They help moderate comments and bring Missourian stories directly to readers via Facebook and Twitter. They are also bringing a storytelling approach to aggregated content. (Read more about that in a future post.)
I’m excited to join the Missourian in this transition. I’d also like to learn more about how editors throughout the industry are contributing to their newsrooms’ online and mobile efforts. Please join the conversation by leaving a comment.