To continue on the point from my last entry, I now want to talk about skills that copy editors traditionally possess that can be taken into the digital age.
The first skill would be insight into your audience. Digital or not, a copy editor, their staff, and reporters alike all need to utilize this trait in their work. Part of that insight would be to gauge exactly how much and what kind of online content the audience of the editor’s publication might want to see or consume.
According to the website of the Newspaper Association of America, there are programs to help editors and reporters either improve or score their experience with the online world, such as Newspaper Advertising Benchmarks and the WAN-IFRA Readership Conference in San Francisco.
The second traditional skill that copy editors should take with them into the digital age would be, as the Daily Collegian puts it, to figure out a way to edit content and advertising in such as a way as to maximize revenue streams for the publication.
I will not be the first to say this, but we became writers to be writers, not mathematicians. However, we do need to worry about simple math when it comes to our articles, and even bigger math when it comes to revenue within our publications. The Nieman Journalism Lab’s Martin Langeveld published an article that provided some interesting ideas on how papers should start to charge for online content. Thinking in this realm, and yes I will dare say it…might be the saving grace for print journalism and its new offshoots.
The third traditional skill that copy editors need to take into the digital age would be always observing with great care the area of ethics. We need to figure out a way as professionals to make the issues that really deserve to be highlighted interesting enough for everyone to care. Putting these stories online with additional coverage, information, and resources will certainly help, but this is not enough. Reinventing the industry as often as possible will always be the aim in today’s news age.
The safeguarding of ethics (and the solutions to make content appealing) is surely explored in the Editor’s Weblog in the article, “Bill Mitchell Discovers 10 Ways to Reinvent Journalism.” (Bill Mitchell is an author from the Poynter Institute.) The ethical standpoints that we must make to protect the ethics of journalism in a digital age are, according to the article, process, partner, link, engage, innovate, be independent, trust, investigate, train and sustain.
This is what we need to do as members of the news industry: we need to train ourselves to sustain the hardship of changing over to a digital format not only to satisfy our readers, but also to broaden our horizons and to increase our ability to bring every interested member of the audience the content that they want, deserve, and need to have.