Copy editing used to be a venerable professional pursuit. For much of newspapering history, the copy editor was the last line of defence, the last journalist to handle the copy before it was put on the page and printed. They worked to protect the newspaper’s prime asset, its reputation, from assault by poor writing, factual errors, libelous statements, and mistakes of grammar, spelling, and typing.
It seems to me it’s been a long time since copy editing was truly valued, yet in the internet age it’s more necessary than ever. Mistakes are so common in online articles it’s a surprise to not find them. Reading the comments on posts has become an exercise in deduction and patience. People just don’t seem to care anymore whether they have to make their reader work to understand them. This sloppiness has spilled over into all kinds of written material, and no one seems to care. There are some great examples of errors in this post that, if you’re anything like me, will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.
And that’s my freelance business’s greatest challenge: When people are accustomed to seeing mistakes in much of what they read, they accept this as normal and don’t see any need to fix it. Since I’m in the business of “fixing it,” I have to work harder and harder to find people and organizations that do value copy editing. And that value it enough to pay a reasonable amount for the kind of expertise a newspaper copy editor of 16 years can bring to their work.
But the story doesn’t end in despair. In addition to experience and competency, I now have a good plan for branding my services, a way to find a niche market, and the ability to create a social media marketing plan that will help me reach those people for whom getting it right does matter.
And maybe, just maybe, together we can turn back the tide.
What do you think? Is it too late to turn back this tide or do you even care?
And p.s. I won’t guarantee there are no errors in this post. It needs a copy edit!
Photo source: Pixabay