Friday, May 1, 2009
Why Tribune isn’t wrong to focus on trimming its editing staff
It’s understandable that there’s much angst among page designers and copy editors about the Tribune’s approach to editing. As has been the case with much that company has done, its communication has been clumsy and muddied the waters. But any newspaper editor facing today’s economic challenges must ask the same question: How do we provide as much original content as possible to maintain our value to readers? One answer is by keeping as many journalists as possible who produce original material and trimming the staff elsewhere. (Of course, there are others, such as using more local outside contributors, paid and unpaid.) The editing process is one part of a newspaper that needs to be examined. And it needs to be simplified if at all possible, with a hierarchy of editing standards, depending on the content. While the value of good copy editing and design is clear, too often the real benefits get lost in newsrooms where editors move commas or adjust for AP style on version after version, instead of focusing on what’s most important: accuracy, fairness and clarity. That shouldn’t just be the emphasis at the end of the day, but right from the start.