Sunday, March 08, 2009

'Copy Editors Lament'

Christopher Ave, political editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, may be my new hero - he has written and recorded a musical elegy to copy editors.

Copy Editor's Lament (The Layoff Song) is a catchy, bittersweet comment on the craft and the skill that you simply must listen to. A sample:

Copy Editor's Lament (The Layoff Song)
By Christopher Ave

I'm a human safety net
I double-check the facts and vet
assertions before they are set in type.

I can provide punctuation
appropriate for publication
make the capitalization right.

I was there to fix your grammar
when you thought it wouldn't matter
cut all your extraneous blather down.

AP stylebook is my bible
helped me stop the suit for libel
but nothing ensures my survival now.

And I don't know what I'll do
after I am through
killing my last adjective ...

Listen to the MP3 (or the WAV file that Ave has also provided). I suggest ACES get Ave's permission to make it the theme at the upcoming Minneapolis meeting.

By the way, it is not lost on me that in many ways this song also politely but firmly lampoons some of the silliness that is part of copy editing, too -- the inflexibility, the shibboleths, the slavish clinging to style even when it clearly gets in the way. Still, while the times may be bittersweet, my friends, as long as we can sing about it, it can't be all bad.

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