The big news in journalism this week has been the publication of the Columbia School of Journalism's findings on how Rolling Stone's November 2014 report about sexual assault on the campus of the University of Virginia went so wrong.
I’ve long espoused the utility of the singular they as a handy pronoun for when the sex of the subject is hypothetical or unknown. But as a copyeditor, I’m beholden to convention—it’s not for me to tell an author they should use a form that some people consider ungrammatical. My job is to provide clarity and avoid bumps along the way.
The creator of the AP vs. Chicago website has turned her attention to ways in which words include or exclude, marginalize or empower. Karen Yin has created Conscious Style Guide as “an online resource for kind, compassionate, and inclusive language.”
The American Medical Writers Association has spent the past couple of years developing a certification for medical writers, and now it is possible to be “Medical Writer Certified.”
Certification comes with a $150 fee to apply and a $375 fee to take the exam. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and two years full time work or four years part-time work within the past five years in the field of medical writing. Two letters of reference are required.
Copyedited material is seen as more valuable and more trustworthy than that which is not copyedited. This seems obvious to anyone except visionary cost-cutters who see dedicated copyeditors as a wasteful layer in the process of connecting reporters and writers with their audiences.
We know better, and we have a little bit more evidence to prove it.
Dori Maynard, who died this week at 56, was a champion of diversity in newsrooms, and therefore a champion of diversity in the broader society. She reminded us that our backgrounds affect how we see the world. She taught us that words matter because we don’t own them, that other people may see the words we use in an entirely different light.
Required reading for copyeditors this week is an excerpt in The New Yorker from a new book by longtime New Yorker copyeditor Mary Norris. The 6,775-word excerpt is a tantalizing glimpse at Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, due out April 6.
Vibrant organizations and vocal advocates focused on furthering the craft of copyediting exist throughout the English-speaking world, and many of the stars of the word world will converge on Toronto in June for the Editing Goes Global conference.