Editing Philosophy

Editing is important because it purifies writing. It eliminates confusion, inconsistency, inaccuracy, distractions, and leaves what the writer intends - ideas and information.

If internally our publication is consistent with style, we can deliver a credible, professional service to our readership. Without it, a reader may see dysfunction which can dilute the power of our words.

I have learned a lot in this regard. When I started, I knew very little about editing. Grammar was always a weakness of mine, and I saw style as petty compared to content.

But as I started to dive into this work and edit more stories, I realized how frustrating it was for me to read all these stories with differing styles. If it was frustrating for me, as someone who loved our work, I could only imagine how our readership took it.

Uniformity in the basics allows for the reader to explore, absorb, and analyze wholly the meaning of our writings.

In this vein, over the summer, in collaboration with my co-Editor-in-Chief and my adviser, we developed a style guide for our publication. You can view that by clicking the image to the left.

Approach

Our editing process is extensive.

Our section editors and reporters have frequent communication. When a reporter has an interview, he touches base with his editor beforehand to draft some questions, and after the interview to discuss how it went. We recommend three sources for all of our stories, so that dialogue should be happening consistently throughout the entire month.

Once a story is submitted, it goes to the section editor who does an initial read. After that, both my co-Editor-in-Chief Ben Yankelitis and I edit the article.

After we approve of the story, our adviser does a final proofread.

From the time a story is submitted, we try and keep the editing time within two days - one day for the section editors, and one day for Ben and me, and our adviser.

Editing is very much a collaboration with the reporter. As each person reads, we make comments asking for sourcing, clarifications, or changes to certain areas, and all of our reporters are notified and make changes accordingly.

If we did all of that for them, it could be incorrect and they would never learn. So, we try to work as personally and in-depth as possible with the reporter, and we have noticed that it helps the reporters improve every issue.

Examples

Below you can see an example of how our editing process works. On the left you can see how the story started. In the middle you can see all the comments the section editor made, the comments I made, and the dialogue with the reporter. In the end, we are able to turn a good story about a student’s struggle with cancer, into a really good story that set up a themed issue on cancer the following month. Click on images to enlarge.
Contributors are welcome to join our staff at any point during the year – so it is up to us to train them on our guidelines for style. This was a new reporter’s first story. When the section editor opened it, he was very lost on what to do with it, so he told me to take a look. I scheduled a time to meet with the reporter and covered a lot of the journalism techniques I had learned in our training sessions. . He was able to learn the process, and the next time he submitted a story we were able to edit it with no problem. He even joked that he maybe he could use our editors’ help for his essays in British Literature class. Click on images to enlarge.

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