Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Copy That! The Troubles and Consequences of Bad Copy editing


It is easy to get caught up with all the tasks -- big and little -- involved in creating a news shift. Each second is filled with worrying about so many things -- what visuals we need, what sounds we want, who created those sounds, how long is the video, is everything sourced, etc. -- that we sometimes forget about the primary substance of news. The copy!

The trouble with bad copy comes down to two major issues: 1) making it difficult for the anchors to read naturally, and 2) not being able to effectively tell the story to the audience. A lot of times for me, it is hard to copy-edit the multimedia journalists (MJs) because it is hard to make the judgment of what is not clearly written and what is just my preference. There is the basic rules dictated by AP style, but allowing the MJs to write copy that is their style is where things get difficult.

Another issue with copy is its timeliness. I’ve noticed a few times that once a story has been written, I’ll assign someone to edit the footage for it immediately, and once it is done I move on to the next story. The problem is, many times a story will continue to develop throughout the day and we’ll need to revise the text to address the latest information.

Overall, it is important to remember what Stacy said about the rundown being a “living document." Things change and need updating constantly throughout the day, and it is crucial that we stay on top of the copy as well as everything else we do.

Leave a comment

Report Finds California Universities More Selective, Expensive

By Caitlyn Hynes
11/30/15 | 4:39 p.m. PST

One report has found that many qualified California students won't be accepted to UCs or CSUs.

Cyber Monday Reaches New Highs On Tenth Anniversary

By Anne Branigin
11/30/15 | 4:01 p.m. PST

Today is the tenth anniversary of Cyber Monday and experts are predicting that this could be the most lucrative online...

Storm's Spotlight: "Daring Darreus"

Women of Troy Take Top Spot In NCAA Tournament

The History Of Helton; Taking USC To The Pac-12 Championships

Monday 11/30/15

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.