Sunday, September 14, 2008

Copy edit much?


Readers catch everything. But unfortunately the on-duty editor, the copy editor(s?) and I didn't catch anything.

I wrote my first obit yesterday...

Yes, I know. Something as simple as an obit should be a piece of cake, right? And it was, sorta. Last night I worked the cops desk alone. During the last third of my shift, the editor told me I had less than an hour to research, report and write an obit about a local politician/activist that I barely knew anything about.

I did a public records search. Miraculously, I found the deceased activist's phone number in Sacramento and spoke with his daughter, wife and brother. I spoke with one of the activist's colleagues and attained an emailed statement from a more notable colleague.

By the time I had gathered all the information, I had twenty minutes max to write the story. Surprisingly, I came pretty close to deadline, crafting the best obit I could in just under 30 minutes.

I filed. The copy editor/pagination guy asked me a couple of questions and the story was put to bed. But what had I missed? Well, two or three things, according to a reader who so kindly emailed me to let me know:
Thought you may want to be informed of these probable typos in your article about Peter Camejo in the Contra Costa Times: Here, the word "man" is likely missing from the quote: "He was a person who fought constantly for justice. He was an activist, an entrepreneur and he was a dedicated family," Danny Camejo said.

And in the title of the article, you may want to use the word "rights"
instead of "right" in "Civil right activist..." The rest looks very good and
thank you for your article.

Great. Just great. My first obit and I can't use it as a clip. And who can I place the blame on? I just as soon place it on myself, except I swear two other sets of eyes read this story before it made it to the web and to the page.

Anyone else care to regale us with your copy editing nightmares?

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 5:46 PM | link

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