Copy Editing Class II


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  • So, one of your readings – a story from the Toronto Star – talked about an increasing number of mistakes and why that’s happening: newsroom downsizing, fewer editors, the speed of posting online.
  • We touched on this a bit last class, but I would like to come back to the traditional editing workflow vs. the new reality.
  • With more going online, the workflow has changed, and there are new priorities.
  • All of this adds up to reporters becoming better at self-editing.
  • I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of reading something we’ve written many times, and still having mistakes in it. Why this happens becomes clearer when we look at how people read.
  • There are different strategies we can use to trick our brains into reading differently.
  • Reading backwards is a trick you can use to isolate words and sentences from the structure of the story.
  • Begging the question: This is correctly used when someone makes a circular argument: “Beer is healthy because it’s good for you.” You could say that statement begs the question. The question is: what’s the proof for that?Wreaking, not reeking (havoc doesn’t smell)Nerve-racking: rack means to torture, wrack is wreckage or seaweed
  • To rein in: reins are for horses, reigns are for monarchsToe the line: comes from an expression about soldiers touching a line with their toesWhet is an old English word for sharpening a tool, used almost exclusively in this expression
  • Copy Editing Class II

    1. 1. Y O U T E A C H P U N C T U AT I O N ! S E L F - E D I T I N G S T R AT E G I E S I N - C L A S S T E S T F U N W I T H I D I O M S
    2. 2. CLARIFICATIONS ON CP STYLE 1. The: Don’t capitalize The when referring to newspapers Do cap The in The Canadian Press, The Associated Press Do capitalize The in names of books, magazines, movies, TV shows 2. Italics CP Style leaves it up to individual publications to decide whether to italicize the titles of books, movies, plays, TV shows. We won’t use italics.
    3. 3. YOU TEACH PUNCTUATION • Groups of three • Each group is assigned a punctuation mark to explain to class • Review the rules in CP Style book • Write up a simple how-to, with each person in the group contributing a sentence that shows the punctuation being used differently. • Email the write-up to
    4. 4. TORONTO STAR TRACKS INCREASE IN MISTAKES  “The Star published 415 corrections in 2012 for mistakes that made it into the newspaper and, for most, online too. As well, we made a further 280 corrections to web-only content.”  “The 415 print corrections are an increase of just over 10 per cent from the 366 corrections published in 2011. Of more concern to me is the continuing upward trend: Last year, we logged a similar 10 per cent hike from the 328 corrections published in 2010.” Kathy English, public editor, Dec. 28, 2012
    5. 5. MEDIA AND MISTAKES Traditional work flow: • Reporter submits finished story • Section editor reads it for major issues • Copy editor reads it for major issues, structure, fact checking, grammatical issues, cuts story to fit space in paper • Photographer submits related photo • Different copy editor proofs laid-out story and photo cutline.
    6. 6. MEDIA AND MISTAKES Current work flow: • Partial story goes online when reporter has enough facts. • The full story may be edited once. • SEO and keywords are priority • Reporter continues working on story throughout day. • Tries to advance the story for next day’s paper. • Editing online happens quickly, as story gets updated.
    7. 7. MEDIA AND MISTAKES “Gone are the days when (copy editors) primarily detected errors and smoothed out prose for the next day’s paper. Now they must also operate in an online environment where search-engine optimization is a key goal. That requires new skills and time- consuming additional duties.” - Andrew Alexander, Washington Post
    8. 8. SELF-EDITING STRATEGIES Whenever possible, budget time to edit BEFORE deadline. CP style editing guideline: • “Read a story three times: Once for content, once to edit and once to clean up.” • Put yourself in the reader’s shoes.
    9. 9. HOW WE READ • We don’t read in a smooth progression; the eye darts around
    10. 10. HOW WE READ • The eye processes text section by section • We skip shorter words – often pronouns or determiners (a, the, that, this) • We anticipate common phrasing • We fixate on long, unusual words
    11. 11. STRATEGY 1: READ ALOUD Hearing yourself say the words will help identify awkward phrasing: “Let your ear be your editor.” – Joey Slinger “Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced Monday that after six months of study and $3 million in funding, the government has come up with new educational and job training guidelines that she predicts will make the Canadian labour force the most skilled in the world.”
    12. 12. STRATEGY 2: PRINT IT OUT It’s easier to catch mistakes in printed text than on screen. Research suggests: • Proofreading on screen takes longer than on paper. • Familiarity with an issue might negatively affect attention span. • It’s easier to detect mistakes at the beginning of the story than at the end.
    13. 13. STRATEGY 3: READ BACKWARDS Start reading the last sentence of a story and work toward the beginning. David Shannon, director and CEO of the human rights commission, apologized that the process leading up to Thursday was long and frustrating for those who experienced racism. There are roughly 30 black firefighters in the Halifax regional fire service, said Jermaine Mombourquette, president of the Halifax Association of Black Firefighters. He said one member of the association voted against the restorative agreement.
    14. 14. STRATEGY 3: ENLARGE TEXT Use the zoom function on your computer, or enlarge font size to see text more clearly. The quick brown fox jumped over the the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the the lazy dog.
    15. 15. STRATEGY 4: CHANGE TEXT FORMAT Try changing document format so that the text configuration changes: The quick brown fox jumped over the the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the the lazy dog.
    16. 16. STRATEGY 4: KILL DISTRACTIONS When proofreading on screen, close all other windows, turn off other updates. Don’t check email, answer phone, etc. If possible, take printout to another room/environment and just read it. Imagine you are reading someone else’s story in the newspaper.
    17. 17. STRATEGY 5: READ LINE BY LINE Use a ruler and go methodically through each sentence, crossing out each one you’ve checked.
    18. 18. STRATEGY 6: USE A CHECKLIST • Identify personal weaknesses in terms of spelling, grammar, word usage, etc. and keep a checklist handy for final edits. • Highlight facts that should be double- checked: titles, people’s names, phone numbers, addresses, website URLs, etc.
    19. 19. PUNCTUATION AND SPELLING EXERCISES • Edit the list of sentences, adding in apostrophes, colons, commas and hyphens where necessary. • Spelling exercise
    20. 20. IDIOMS AND EXPRESSIONS “Begging the question” or “raising the question” “Reeking havoc” or “wreaking havoc” “For all intensive purposes” or “for all intents and purposes” “nerve-wracking” or “nerve-racking”
    21. 21. IDIOMS AND EXPRESSIONS • “to rein in” or “to reign in” • “Tow the line” or “toe the line” • “Scapegoat” or “escape goat” • “Wet your appetite” or “whet your appetite” • “I couldn’t care less” or “I could care less”