Copy editors protect news organizations’ credibility

Copyediting: the difference between “America” and “Amercia” on this famous grammatical error by a person in the public eye.

© 2012

An error made Mitt Romney’s mobile app. © 2012

Copy editors can be crucial to the reputation and credibility of a newspaper. However, skilled copy editors may not be so easy to find.

A survey released by The American Society of News Editors found that there were 10,676 copy editors in 2002 and 5,675 in 2012.

The number of people working in newsrooms is on a steady decline and copy editors are often the first ones out the door.

According to an article published on Accuracy in Media’s website, the problem of poorly copy edited stories is likely to continue to get worse, “until newspapers realize that poor copy-editing also leads to an even poorer image and damages what credibility the newspapers have left.”

Merrill Perlman worked for 25 years as a copy editor at The New York Times and is now an adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; she specializes in editing the English language.

She also had a reaction to Mitt Romney’s “Amercia” mistake. In 2012 her article, “Why ‘Amercia’ needs copy editors” was published on

“Romney, like so many others, needs a copy editor. And Romney, like so many others, is apparently working without one,” Perlman said.

According to Perlman’s article no other job classification has suffered as much as copy editors in the downsizing of newspapers. As a result, typos, as well as grammar, fact and logic errors are slipping through.© 2012 CNN

As copy editors are laid off reporters have to proofread their own stories. Perlman’s article indicates that these reporters are not being trained to be copy editors.

A study done by the American Copy Editors Society showed that readers reacted more positively to well edited stories: perhaps proving that readers do care.

The integrity of news organizations is being put into jeopardy. Can readers trust news organizations with sensitive news information if they can’t even spell words correctly or use proper grammar? Should copy editors be more valued in newsrooms?

An error that went live on CNN. © 2012
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