- On July 12, 2017
In an effort to streamline its newsroom, The New York Times is eliminating a group of copy editors (also known as proofreaders) whose job is to ensure the newspaper’s facts are accurate and its copy mistake free. To protest the move, Times staff took to the streets, carrying signs filled with the very errors copy editors are paid to catch.
In fairness, The Times is trying to find new ways to copy edit in a fast-paced digital world and, like most companies, with fewer resources. The publication is not forgoing this crucial step.
I have a proofreader for this column (thank you, James Harrison), who pitched his services after I showed my ignorance about an important business practice by bungling a trade term. And I always advise clients to include a professional proofreader for annual reports and the like.
Good proofreading—which comes after you’ve edited for focus and clarity (which usually entails some rewriting)—means checking for the following things:
• A clean look—no messed-up margins; ample white space
• Accurate information and word choice
• Adherence to established styles—AP style is the most popular
• Consistent use of language and terms
• Correct capitalization
• Error-free punctuation and spelling
• Good grammar
In a letter to The Times’s executive editor the copy editors defended themselves as “the group that protects the institution from profoundly embarrassing errors.”
I imagine embarrassed is how another prominent news organization felt when, a few years ago, it reported that a former first daughter was upping her pubic profile and how we all felt when the president of the United States tweeted covfefe for the world to see.