Back when esnl got his start in the newspaper game, our stories were subjected to at least three levels of editing, sometimes more depending on the size of the newspaper.
The first level came from the supervising or assigning editor, usually a deputy city editor. The story then went to the city editor, then to the copy desk, where the story was checked for grammar, style, typos, and continuity problems by a copy editor. From there it went to the slot man, the final check in the editing process, who examined the story for content and placement.
If the story was sufficiently significant, the vetting might also include the managing editor and his boss [all the editors of that level were male at the papers where we worked], plus a lawyer if any legal issues were raised. Then, after the story was set in type, a proofreader gave it the final once-over for typos and dropped lines of type.
That’s why you rarely if ever saw misspelled words, misattributions, incorrect tiles, and so much more.
But with the waves of downsizings we’ve reported over the years, typos flourish, facts go astray, and stories have grown choppier — and so much more.
And now the Bay Area News Group [BANG], the company that owns almost all the newspapers in the San Francisco Bay area, is getting rid of the last vestiges of editorial review.
Here’s the memo staff members received today, via Romenesko:
From: James Robinson
Date: Apr 22, 2016 6:02 AM
Subject: Some changes to our editing and production processes
To: &BANG News All
We’re launching a series of changes to the assigning and copy editing process in an attempt to manage a planned loss of approximately 11 FTEs. We are choosing this course, as many papers have across the country, rather than cutting more deeply into the ranks of content producers or neglecting our digital needs.
The bottom line is that we will be eliminating a layer of valuable editing across most of the copy desk — what is known in desk parlance as the rim. The result:
- Staff stories that go inside sections will not be copy-edited. The assigning editor will be the only read. (In sports, late stories that do not go through an assigning editor will continue to be read on the desk, once.) Stories for our East Bay weeklies will not be copy-edited.
- Staff stories for section covers will receive one read on the desk rather than the current two.
- Proofreading will be reduced. This is going to place a new level of responsibility on reporters and, especially, assigning editors. Many of the ways in which the desk bails us out — often without us noticing — will disappear. That will mean:
- All assigning editors must run Tansa on stories before moving them to the desk, and all proper names will have to be cq’ed. Grammar mistakes that make it through an assigning editor are highly likely to appear in print.
- Reporters and editors will need to be more familiar with AP and BANG style.
- Budgetlines will need to include accurate deadlines and lengths. Desk folk who receive overly long stories will not have time to redo page designs; they will be instructed to cut from the end (on some occasions, early notice to the desk that a story is running long may avoid this fate). When deadlines are blown, the desk may need to grab a web version of the story and move on.
There’s lots more, after the jump. . .