Last semester, I took Editing as part of my course load. It was less demanding than some of my other classes, and time limitations meant that I didn’t give the subject the attention it deserves. I tried to make up for that by taking Advanced Editing during this first half of the summer.
In the Editing class, the emphasis is on grammar, punctuation and word choice. The professor gave us articles to “fix.” Many of the errors were inconsistencies, fact errors, awkward wording and the like. We also did a little bit of page layout on dummy sheets, and cutting down AP wire stories. Less integral to the class, but more interesting, were topics of diversity, ageism, sexism, bias, ethics and taste.
These are the issues that we have discussed in the Advanced Editing class.
The advantage of this class is that it is very small, (at least in the summer, we had only 11 students) which allows for greater freedom of class discussion. The professor would hand out an article or case study and we would discuss the issues as a group. We talked about verifying sources, making up information, copying press releases, critical thinking and journalists and math.
Recognizing these issues and grasping the “big picture” behind a story is what being an editor is all about. But it’s also what being a reporter should be about.
Being an “online” kinda gal, I’d rather be out shooting video, making Flash presentations or putting together a database than managing people and editing articles. But the chance to discuss the issues that editors face everyday has been invaluable, and I think that my future work will be better because of it. These problems are not unique to print journalism. They need to be addressed in other forms of media as well.
Advanced Editing wasn’t a required course, it was a choice I made because every puzzle piece counts. If I could stay in school long enough to take courses in layout, photography and business, I would. Sadly, I’ve only got one year left. But until they kick me outta here, I’m going to scrape together as many puzzle pieces as I can. They will make me a better journalist, but even more importantly, I think they will make me a better person.