Copy editing’s best week ever?

Copy editors and their advocates have been in force during the past week or so, arguing on multiple fronts: headline creativity versus SEO obsession, the hapless life of conflict that can grip a copy editor, and the notion that editors in general are the quality assurance than any good company can’t afford not to have (all links are at the link above).

The quality assurance argument, in general, is one that I think I’ve made (here, here and, especially, here) though probably not as well as Paul Ford did, and certainly not from Ford’s perspective.

Mediabistro.com’s blog post wants to focus less on Ford and more on the others, which is understandable. But to me, the only way this “week of the copy editor” is a lasting benefit for editors, writers and readers is by embracing and evangelizing the concept of “editors as quality control and assurance.” That’s the only salvo in this copy-editing offensive that’s sufficiently forward-looking, without lament and offering a new (and newly packaged), valuable and potentially paying service.

As I’ve said before, to create that reality of valued (copy) editing is going to require a much broader picture of what editing is, why it’s important and how it is conducted. Organizations will still be lean, and possibly still overworked, but if quality control and focus are applied throughout the operation, that leanness on the editing side will be financially attainable and laser-like in its targeting.

Such a system won’t just focus on the typo in the article, but on the “typos” that hinder productivity and creditability in every department of companies. And the editors fixing them won’t be criticizers, cast out physically and by dint of their working hours, but creators of solutions. That’s what we have to hope and strive for, at least, to make this brief copy-editing renaissance mean something.