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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Seeking Full-Time Copy Editors for Team Tuesday


Copy editing could be its own, full-time position in the newsroom. If we could have a team of people dedicated to making sure our scripts are accurate, conversational and catchy then my job as a producer would be much easier. If only wishing made it so. 

News isn't news if it isn't accurate. Journalists can't pride themselves on their work if it doesn't reflect the newest facts we can verify.  A simple typo can dramatically throw off the anchor's flow. Even though we are a broadcast outlet, spelling still matters. A lot of work goes into these newscasts and something as small as a vague sentence or outdated number reduces our credibility and reflects poorly on all of that hard work. 

Since we have limited team members working throughout the day and copy editing still has to be done, every member of Team Tuesday gets to be a copy editor. Everyone from the assignment desk editors to the producers can copy edit scripts and every extra pair of eyes helps. We're approaching the point in the semester where people are taking the initiative to copy edit without being asked. For me, this is an encouraging sign that the team is taking ownership of the newscast and is genuinely investing in its success.

My best advice for MJs, assignment editors, reporters and anyone in the newsroom copy editing scripts is to know the news. How can you expect to check what is written in a script if you don't know what is going on yourself? A second suggestion is to read everything out loud. Actually, these two pieces of advice are requirements more than suggestions. It will make a noticeable difference in our newscast. If you are stumbling over big words or feel yourself getting bored then you know its time to punch up that script. We want people to watch our show and we can make it better by having our energetic anchors reading copy that sounds like our viewers are hearing the news from a friend. Simpler is always better and if a story takes a lot of explaining, maybe that information is better suited for a graphic than text. 

Copy editing is something I would really like to challenge myself to work on. When I'm producing I find myself stretched so thin that copy editing gets pushed aside. Often, other duties such as writing scripts and ordering video take priority. This week I was just relieved that all the scripts were written before the show began. Thanks to the persistence of the studio crew we were able to catch and fix some spelling errors in OTS graphics before they went on air. Next week, my goal is to copy edit the scripts all the way through the end of the rundown.  

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