By now, we know the plight of the contemporary journalist, freelance writer, or novelist. In the Digital Age, it can be tough to find good work. But what about editors? This week, we take a look at a couple of stories that highlight the declining need (or so the view goes) of good editing on blogs and at news organizations. Apparently, the glut of content can’t wait for high-quality editing.
Also, a look at what makes a good love letter, writing for Whitney Houston, and the buzzwords of the week.
The copy editor’s life.
These days, copy editing is as undervalued a skill as ever, and those who “only” copy-edit are finding it harder to stay relevant without picking up some additional skills (much like those who “only” write). This is sort of the idea of Yoni Goldstein’s piece in the National Post
, which also chronicles the copy editor’s place on the newsroom totem pole. In a time when page views are editorial currency, Goldstein writes that “online news sites and blogs tend to be nearly completely unconcerned with the kinds of typos and grammatical errors that copy editors are paid to seek out and fix.” Read the essay here
Are more views worth some bad writing?
Reuters’s Felix Salmon profiles the performance of New York Observer
Editor Elizabeth Spiers in a piece that serves as a fascinating study of the trend by some news organizations—and many non-news organizations—toward more content and less editing. Spiers assumed chief editing duties at the Observer
a year ago with the goal of boosting online readership. To do that, she’s eschewed the paper’s upper-crust Manhattanite traditions in favor of rapid-fire blog posts and list articles. Salmon concludes, “In the proud tradition of good blogs everywhere, readers are left with a highly variable product. The great is rare; the dull quite common. But—and this is the genius of the online format—that doesn’t matter
, not anymore.” Read the column here
How to write a love letter.
Good writers don’t make good love-letter writers, according to this piece from The Awl. Writer Carey Wallace critiques a letter from poet Robert Browning to his soon-to-be wife that contains “undeniably gorgeous” prose, but fails as an expression of love. This is true, writes Wallace, because “love’s hallmarks are also the hallmarks of bad literature: lack of perspective, repetition, superlatives.” As a good example of a love letter, Wallace describes why Song of Songs from the Bible works very well. She writes that it “has survived for thousands of years, which suggests that it contains language about love that has resonated through all that time.” Read the essay here
How Whitney’s voice transformed two writing careers.
Not many of us are songwriters, and even fewer wrote top 10 hits in the age of platinum records, but George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam know something about it. They are the writing team behind Whitney Houston hits “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” This interview they did with the BBC this week gives a nice peek into a writing process unfamiliar to most scribes. Read the interview here
Words of the week.
Think of this as another site to bookmark for weekly updates on language or buzzwords. Every Wednesday, Time
magazine assembles a list of words or phrases that either have defined the week’s news or are interesting takes on language in popular culture. Among this week’s finds: “Linsanity” (an affliction of certain basketball fans) and “to roll deep,” which pop singer Adele says is “a gang phrase in the U.K., roll deep
.” Read the full story here
Also, because Jeremy Lin has permeated corners of the world that have nothing to do with basketball, the literary site Full Stop has put together a list of popular novels with plays on his name
, gathered from the hashtag #linfinitejest.
Evan Peterson is a writer and communications professional in Chicago who has written speeches for executives and presidential cabinet members. His writing has appeared in
Christian Science Monitor,
Politico, and other publications.