I’m proud of the aggregated content Columbia Missourian journalists have created over the past two semesters on our interactive copy editing desk.
As the news industry tries to find its way toward a successful transition from print-oriented to “digital first” thinking, it’s tempting to view copy editors as a costly budget line rather than a valuable resource.
Other journalists, including American Copy Editors Society President Teresa Schmedding, have defended our profession by showing that copy editors create value for news organizations. Copy editors can be skilled at writing focused, SEO-friendly online headlines. They catch errors that can save publications from costly libel suits.
As research by Fred Vultee of Wayne State University has demonstrated, readers appreciate our efforts. They notice the difference between edited and unedited copy. In particular, copy editors’ work can make a difference in perceptions of liberal or conservative bias in our news stories.
Copy editors are also skilled at aggregating content. We’ve been doing that for decades by creating index material and packages of wire news briefs for print newspapers. In the digital-first environment, we can create similar material that can be posted as valuable, reader-friendly online content.
The San Jose Mercury News, my employer for more than a decade, was a pioneer in recognizing that copy editors are uniquely skilled at creating compelling aggregated content. Levi Sumagaysay, the Merc’s former business copy chief, is the author of the popular Good Morning Silicon Valley tech-industry blog at SiliconValley.com. Jeremy C. Owens, a veteran of the Merc’s consolidated copy desk at the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., succeeded me as writer of the daily 60-Second Business Break online newsletter.
Here at MU and the Columbia Missourian, Missouri sports is to us what Silicon Valley’s technology industries are to the Mercury News and SiliconValley.com. Missourian journalists on our interactive copy editing — or ICE — desk have brought thousands of page views to our site with The Week in Missouri Sports and The Week in Missouri Football features, which link to the best sports stories on ColumbiaMissourian.com and to interesting commentary on other sites, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Kansas City Star, ESPN, and even our crosstown rival, the Columbia Daily Tribune. (more…)