Clean up your copyBest of the Midwest 2011Feb. 12, 2011
Who is this up here?✤ College: ✤ Copy chief of the Indiana Daily Student for ﬁve semesters ✤ Arbutus editor in chief✤ Where now? ✤ I teach at St. Louis Park High School (Minn.). Students have won NSPA (high school version of ACP) and CSPA individual honors, as well as National Pacemaker and Gold Crown awards. By a quick count, I’ve been afﬁliated with at least 16 National Pacemaker or Gold Crown publications awards.
Enough about me.✤ Who are you?✤ Publication and publication type.✤ Why are you here?✤ What’s your top problem with copy editing?✤ What system do you have? Does it work?✤ How can I help?
Read backward.✤ The Green Bay Packers have signed general manger Ted Thompson to a multiyear extension. While speciﬁc details about the deal weren’t released by the team organization, it’s offer came ﬁve days after the team won their fourth Super Bowl.
Send everything through copyeditors. Can you spot the errors?✤ Percent of students who love The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein: 9% In a survey taken Sept. 12 by 439 students on there 11% way to class, said it was their favorite book. 48% 14% 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 18%
Have an editing process✤ How does the story go from writer to page?✤ What do you do with late breaking stories? Web stories? Twitter feed? Other?✤ How many people read a “regular” story prior to story appearing?✤ Post this process somewhere. Inform others.
Run spell check.✤ But don’t rely on it. You’ll ﬁnd it won’t ﬁnd some errors.✤ Watch “change all” function - my embarrassing story about a football player and the subsequent correction that was written.✤ Will it catch everything?✤ We all know autocorrect has problems ...
And boy, arethey problems.Thankfully, this wasn’t to my mom.Although something close to this hashappened to me.
Accept criticism and responsibility✤ If you make a mistake, own up to it. Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, web, or the paper version. Do this regardless of your job.✤ Twitter can be great. And not so great.✤ Constructive criticism makes us stronger. Nit picking at people is just rude. What’s the difference?✤ Accepting responsibility makes you more credible as a paper and as a person.
Provide easy access to referencebooks. Know how to check facts.✤ How do you check name spellings? ✤ Restaurants?✤ Make it easy on staffers who copy edit. Make these accessible. ✤ Apps? ✤ Reference books (grammar, stylebook, dictionary, thesaurus, etc.)
Did I mention check names evenif they aren’t of people?
Read the news daily at minimum✤ If you are knowledgeable about the news, you will be able to better troubleshoot copy holes and content errors.✤ If you didn’t read the news within the last 24 hours, you didn’t know about Egypt.✤ Fall in love with wire copy if you subscribe.✤ and ...
Editors should edit with the writerwhenever possible.✤ As you read professional work, learn from it. Study their leads, sources, transitions. While this may sound like something for writers, copy editors are one of the last reads (depending on your staff structure) prior to publishing. If you know what makes a good story, you can contact the writer and help him (or her) craft the copy.✤ Question any items that are suspect or that you don’t understand. Double check facts with them. Your goal should be to have no erroneous information in the publication.✤ Contact writers if you want to change their stories. Be respectful. You’ll lose some good writers if you don’t call – and I don’t blame them. Some will want to stay until the story has cleared all reads. Let them.
Pick a style and live it.✤ What style do you use?✤ Read the stylebook. Know the nuances. Don’t be cheap. Buy the new version.✤ Some obvious but great resources: Newsroom 101, Grammar Girl, #AP Style, Poynter Institute, SPJ, etc.✤ Don’t be afraid to have a few items of your own. For example, before AP decided to spell teenager correctly, we had it at the IDS as what it is now. We only had about 10 or so of these. The rest of the style sheet had campus-centric resource information. Be consistent with these.
Clichés-Don’t beat a dead horse.✤ When writers are pressed for time, they tend to pull the cliché out of the toolbox. They also may be trying to take up more space because maybe the writer they feel they have big shoes to ﬁll.✤ Tips for avoiding these like the plague: ✤ Tighten writing. ✤ If the writer is a cliché king or queen, help them learn how to freshen their writing by choosing better words and phrases. Clichés aren’t interesting to read and using them can impact how much of your publication is read.
Teach people how to copy edit.✤ Share resources already mentioned.✤ Do copy editing practices.✤ Kindly tell them when they make a mistake.✤ Coach writers. (Poynter is a great resource on this.)✤ Care about your legacy on the publication. When others are trained, they are better prepared to take over once you are gone.
And now ... a practice✤ A pair of alligators maybe regretting the big one which got away.✤ Elmos Kumalo, twenty-eight, recently climbed a half submerged tree in a lake while ﬁshing so he could sent his bait farther from the shore. “I remember saying “Its worked”, and I caught bigger ﬁsh, but when I decided to go home, I noticed two crocodiles in the water under neath the tree, looking up at me.”✤ After 5 hours, the man eaters began dozing, and Kumato jumped on top of the biggest one startling the three crocodiles. Fish in had, he ﬂed the confusion.
What was wrong?✤ A pair of alligators maybe regretting the big one which got away.✤ Elmos Kumalo, twenty-eight, recently climbed a half submerged tree in a lake while ﬁshing so he could sent his bait farther from the shore. “I remember saying “Its worked”, and I caught bigger ﬁsh, but when I decided to go home, I noticed two crocodiles in the water under neath the tree, looking up at me.”✤ After 5 hours, the man eaters began dozing, and Kumato jumped on top of the biggest one startling the three crocodiles. Fish in had, he ﬂed the confusion.
Now, think of graduation (or someother event on campus)✤ How will you cover it? Sources?✤ With a partner talk through what the story will be.✤ The other person should listen and ask very few questions.✤ We will switch places after two minutes.
Look at the following. Whatfeedback would you give?✤ Imagine being the president of a university. What would you change? What donors would you talk with and how would you do it?✤ Female university presidents can go through a lot of money. They might charter their own plane. They might ﬂy their husband around the country – or maybe just the county. All of this is your tuition money going up in smoke.✤ Someone in the university administration recently took a little trip on our tuition dime. They allegedly ﬂew across the county to attend a donor dinner. This reporter heard from a friend of a waiter there that a tip-top administrator ordered three bottles of $400 wine for her table alone.
What was wrong?✤ “Imagine being the president of a university. What would you change? What donors would you talk with and how would you do it?”✤ Bad lead that doesn’t tell you anything about the real story. Leads to avoid: imagine, question, quote, you.✤ If someone printed this, I would never get past the ﬁrst line.
And here?✤ Female university presidents can go through a lot of money. They might charter their own plane. They might ﬂy their husband around the country – or maybe just the county. All of this is your tuition money going up in smoke.
And here?✤ Someone in the university administration recently took a little trip on our tuition dime. They allegedly ﬂew across the county to attend a donor dinner. This reporter heard from a friend of a waiter there that a tip-top administrator ordered three bottles of $400 wine for her table alone.
Now for the real thing ... and it’sgood.✤ For the full text, please see: http://www.redandblack.com/ 2009/11/13/the-cost-of-convenience/✤ It’s also on ACP’s website under Individual Contest, News Story of the Year.
From Red & Black, University ofGeorgia✤ On a Tuesday evening in May, University President Michael Adams had a dinner date in Macon with donors.✤ Adams piled into the University’s twin-engine Super King Air 200 turboprop plane with his assistant Mary McDonald, Provost Arnett Mace, Senior Vice President of External Affairs Tom Landrum and his wife, and external affairs director Greg Daniels, for a 15-minute ﬂight to a city 90 miles from Athens.✤ At $1,000 an hour, Adams’ ﬂight to dinner and back cost $700. But it costs $45 an hour for the pilot and co-pilot’s time in the air, and $35 an hour for the plane to sit on the tarmac while the party enjoyed its four-and-a-half-hour dinner.✤ The grand total for dinner in Macon that Tuesday night in May came to $1,363.64, according to documents obtained by The Red & Black.
In one month – from April, 20, 2009 to May 30, 2009 – Adams spent$20,667 on ﬂights. His itinerary included a trip to Destin, Fla., with hiswife “to attend SEC meetings and related events,” a trip to Valdosta toplay in the South Georgia Golf Classic – and to meet with donors – withMace, Executive Director of Legal Affairs Stephen Shewmaker andExecutive Director of the Ofﬁce of Development Keith Oelke, and a tripto Memphis for the funeral of a family member.In 2008, the plane’s primary users – Adams, Georgia football headcoach Mark Richt and Athletic Director Damon Evans – racked up$229,831 collectively in airplane use; and that doesn’t includemaintenance fees, which has totaled nearly $1.6 million since August2008.
Other questions?✤ Lori Keekley✤ firstname.lastname@example.org✤ School address: 6425 W. 33rd St., St. Louis Park, MN 55426✤ Phone (school): 952 928-6251
What did you get out of this?✤ Hopefully something ...✤ If you would like to access these slides, go to slideshare.net. It’s under Keekley BOM CE session 2011.✤ Thanks!