A revolutionary idea for copy editors: blog

Doug Fisher riled up a group of copy editors. How? By suggesting they blog.


Objections ranged from “nobody will read it” to “competitors will learn our copy editing secrets.”

Objections, in other words, that to anybody who really understands the web are utterly nonsensical.

Doug refutes them all in an update to his post.

The thread reminds me of an observation some of us interactive veterans have shared over the past few months: There is a growing number of journalists who just woke up to the web and think they have all the answers.

A newspaper executive at another company recently said to me, “The newsroom just discovered the internet in January and suddenly they’re all geniuses.”

He then added, “Be careful what you wish for,” to which he refers to how for years those of us on the interactive side have begged our newsroom colleagues to take an interest in the web. Now they are and they want to drive before they’ve even looked at a map.

You know what, it’s great that newsrooms are seeing the importance of the web. We need it. It’s the only way we’re going to survive, but before making judgments and strategic decisions about content and audiences, it would be helpful if newsroom types would spend a little time absorbing what the web is about.

Blogging is a big part of doing that.

Of course, taking up a blog and using it to learn and get the web only works if you jettison everything you think you know about newspapering.

The web isn’t about control, or ownership or one-way communication. It’s about participation, collaboration, sharing and communication.

Web publishing is very different from putting out a print product. You’re not trying to reach a mass audience with a single message, and you’re not limited to only one chance each day to get it right. The web is more fluid and more dynamic. You can publish any time, will probably reach only a slice of any given audience, and can fix it later if needed.

This is a more profound difference than you might think. It changes more than just what you publish. It changes how you work.

For any one who might think I’m complaining. I’m not. I’m just sharing what I find to be an interesting observation.

One clear advantage of this shift in interest is that it does force those of us who have been doing online for a while to constantly re-evaluate some of our assumptions. That is never a bad thing.

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