Sunday, February 13, 2005

Copy editor's firing

OK, so I've read the post at A Capital Idea about New York Post copy editor Dawn Eden's firing. I've read the rather overdone New York Observer article by George Gurley.
I've paged through the lengthy thread on Testy Copy Editors.
I've read Eden's blog.

So why do I find myself going, so what?
I just have a hard time getting worked up about a copy editor who unilaterally lets her particular philosophical/theological/whatever issues dictate what she does to another person's story. Follow the links and read up on it; it's too involved to do it justice in a short summary here, and Nicole at A Capital Idea has done a find job in excerpting.

What Eden did, to my mind, is the height of arrogance. If you think your paper isn't covering an issue fairly, is missing the nuances -- is a bunch of writhing idiots -- it's still not your job to try to deliver Ireland, or the Post, from the snakes.

You don't just edit stuff into a story without going back to the writer and line editor and discussing it. (Yeah, OK, on deadline there will be times that's bent. But they ought to be damn few.) That's how we get reputations on copy desks as being hacks and butchers and arrogant SOBs.

The talk of whether she was fired for blogging on company time, etc., is so much smoke screen (and if that's the reason the Post gave, it should be ashamed, too). Do I think she should have been fired for the changes to the article? Maybe not -- in an ideal world, maybe a swift knucklerap and a swifter firing if it happened again. We do need different voices in our newsrooms -- but for the purposes of intelligent, extended discussion, not for deciding unilaterally that we need to edit in our own view of things.

But tolerance is in short supply in the business world these days and in even shorter supply in the newspaper business after the likes of Kelley and Blair and Glass and the parade of charlatans passing by. So what happened should be no surprise.


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