The life cycle of copy editing

The Crimson White weekly newspaper at the University of Alabama is looking for a copy editor. “I like people to understand what they’re getting into,” writes chief copy editor John Davis, “so the following is what I consider to be the five stages of life as a copy editor. Experiences may vary.”

Stage One: Doing your job, and genuinely caring

Stage Two: Getting increasingly frustrated at a writer’s inability to improve his or her writing

Stage Three: Questioning why you do the job as you hit the keyboard harder and harder with every correction.

Stage Four: Existential despair

Stage Five: Quiet reserve and acceptance of your role in life

Davis elaborates on those stages in his post and tells me in an email how he came up with his “Life Cycle” piece:

It started out as an idea for a column during the fall semester (I’m also a weekly columnist) with a bare bones outline of what the stages actually are.

John Davis

I had considered writing for a week in which I didn’t have anything else more pertinent to touch on, but on Monday the opinions editor came up to me at work asking if I could write something, because her two columnists for Tuesday’s paper never submitted anything. Since I happened to have the list of stages in front of me, I just went with that. It was really only good timing that we also needed a copy editor.

So far I’ve only had one inquiry [about the job opening], but the reception seems to be positive, at least among people I’ve spoken with.

* The Life Cycle of Copy Editing

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