Of the many roles I have played through the course of my journalism career, editing has long been what I have enjoyed most, both copy editing and content editing. I love helping make individual articles and overall products shine.
It is difficult to display samples of editing work, because editing is a practice in which the big victories come as a sum of the little victories, or as grand overhauls behind the scenes. It’s about attention to detail, and about taking the time to check everything you can possibly check to make sure nothing is wrong. It’s about discovering that Mark should really be Marc, or that the crossword puzzle is missing the clue for 63 across. It’s about punctuating and rearranging and punctuating again to make sure that every fact-packed sentence is crystal-clear for readers.
Editing is also about developing communication skills. You’re not communicating with the public as much as a reporter does, but you’re communicating with people you have to see and work with every day, and you have to be able to build relationships with them so you can tactfully question and correct their work without causing anger or killing morale.
There are ethical decisions to be made in editing, too. I always keep an eye out for racism, sexism, ablism and other problematic words or phrases that could offend or perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Are we making irrelevant comments about the appearance of a female politician? Are we using outdated terminology to describe people with mental disabilities? Those questions are just as important to ask as ones about proper punctuation and style.
Editors are sometimes the first eyes on a piece of content and sometimes the last. They have to keep an eye on text pieces, photos and their captions, page designs and other moving parts to make sure a whole product is coherent; they have to track coverage not only daily but also weekly and monthly and yearly to make sure the publication stays consistent.
Editing is a lot of things, and I love all of it.