Here’s another sign post along the long, winding road towards the death of professional journalism.
Jim Romenesko’s blog reported on a memo from the managing editor/content of the Bay Area News Group: “‘WE WILL BE ELIMINATING A LAYER OF VALUABLE EDITING’.”
The bottom line: The company is laying off its copy editors.
I had to look up what newspapers are owned by BANG. According to Wikipedia, they include:
San Jose Mercury News — the flagship paper of the group
Contra Costa Times
Santa Cruz Sentinel
The Argus (Fremont)
The Daily Review (Hayward)
Marin Independent Journal
The Reporter (Vacaville)
The memo describes the changes.
The bottom line is that we will be eliminating a layer of valuable editing across most of the copy desk — what is known in desk parlance as the rim. The result:
* Staff stories that go inside sections will not be copy-edited. The assigning editor will be the only read. (In sports, late stories that do not go through an assigning editor will continue to be read on the desk, once.) Stories for our East Bay weeklies will not be copy-edited./CONTINUES
* Staff stories for section covers will receive one read on the desk rather than the current two.
* Proofreading will be reduced.
This is going to place a new level of responsibility on reporters and, especially, assigning editors. Many of the ways in which the desk bails us out — often without us noticing — will disappear. That will mean:
* All assigning editors must run Tansa on stories before moving them to the desk, and all proper names will have to be cq’ed. Grammar mistakes that make it through an assigning editor are highly likely to appear in print.
What does this mean in practice? A lot less finished writing overall. Most likely bad for newspapers and for newspaper readers.
After all, much of what has separated bloggers and reporters has been the service of editors and copy editors that reporters copy would normally get before going public.
Now, if the Bay Area News Group is an indication, newspapers are losing that advantage.