Ditto: A style tip, a juice box, a writing bot and more

March 15 to March 28

 

 

The elements in our list above provide the main theme of reading picks in this, our fourth issue.  As motley as they are, the style update to a much-referenced newspaper stylebook, the markings on boxes of a certain orange juice brand, and a computer program called Quakebot that “wrote” and sent news of an earthquake to news desks in Los Angeles recently, seem to be heralding changes — in word usage, people’s attitudes to grammar, and the business and practice of journalism. Read on:

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Image by: Glasseyes View on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.

Ditto: What else can we do with our strengths?

March 1 to March 14

 

As technology continues to change the media, publishing, and communications landscapes, the importance of human editors is being challenged. The automation of the editing process, the pressure to break stories first, and the underselling of freelancers threaten our value to the organizations and the industries we serve.

We know that being an editor is more than just correcting grammar, spelling, and punctuation. But how do we show that to organizations and to consumers of information? In this issue of Ditto, we explore other ways we can use our editorial skills.

 

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Ditto: Mind Ticklers for Editorial Professionals

February 15 to February 28

This week’s issue is filled with editing, writing and publishing tips from various sources online. Stories also cover the rise of the platform-publisher hybrid (currently called platishers); the Hemingway app that you can use when you want to ensure your writing is “bold and clear,” and BuzzFeed’s quizzes, which are changing the picture for publishing and reader engagement. Workplace readings include tips on disagreeing at work, helping passive-aggressives, and understanding why you procrastinate and how to address it. Locally, the Supreme Court has ruled that online libel is constitutional, although concerns on the grounds and implementation of the law still remain. In other news, you might want to join ACES’ haiku contest on Twitter or share images of funny grammar lapses via CNN iReport in line with the upcoming National Grammar Day.

 

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Staff Picks #01 - Essential Tools

Staff Picks: Essential MS Word Tools and Features

So you’ve been using F7 and Find and Replace. Now, it’s time you discover other Microsoft Word tools and features that could make you a more productive copy editor.

Although we’ve heard about books entirely written by computers, we still believe that writing and editing are tasks that cannot fully be done automatically. But that doesn’t mean writers and editors should do the entire content development process manually. In the same way that doctors have medical equipment and carpenters have toolboxes, there are a lot of tools available now to help writers and editors streamline the process. And most of these tools are already available in your favorite word processing software.

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No doubt, Mitt Romney's campaign would have benefited from having a copy editor. But proofreader would've caught the error.

Myth: Copy editors only correct spelling and grammar errors.

We’re still busting some of the most common misconceptions about copy editors. Last time, we clarified that a superior vocabulary is not as important as knowing how to deal with words, phrases and idioms that are unfamiliar. Before that, we also mentioned that a journalism or English degree is not a strict requirement for copy editor and that there are opportunities for copy editors outside the newsroom or publishing firms. Now, we try to clarify the copy editor’s scope by busting another myth:

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03 walking dictionary

Myth: Copy editors are walking dictionaries.

Sources summarize copy editing as making copy correct, complete, concise, clear and consistent — the five Cs, as the pros call them. It is often confused with either proofreading or developmental editing. You’d probably think that to be a successful copy editor, you’d have to love writing, or you’d need to be a grammar geek. But actually, the role goes beyond checking for subject-verb agreement and usage errors. So what does it actually take to be a copy editor?

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Original image by Sue Quirante.

Story Relay #01: Behind the Story

Editor’s note: We’ve finally released the output of the first Story Relay. Here, Sue Quirante shares her experience as the first story master. This post explains the process she as well as the rest of the Project Chiron staff went through from producing the story seed to moderating the Relay and polishing the output.

When Project Chiron decided to develop Story Relay, all we had was the tentative idea of bringing chain writing online. The specifics about how we were going to do it were left to me as the first story master. I had to write my own instruction manual. Research on collaborative writing led me to a variety of rules and forms from highly structured renga to loose collections of images, text, and videos of online story challenges.

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Original image by Sue Quirante.

Story Relay #01: “Aaban”

We’re delighted to present the final version of the output of Story Relay’s first run. In case you missed our updates on Story Relay, we posted the seed on our Facebook page in December and ran the relay for two weeks with Sue Quirante as story master. After weeks of discussions and polishing the output, here’s “Aaban” in slideshow and Scribd formats.

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Original image:  “Newsroom” by Caroline Treadway (Flickr). Used under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license.

Myth: Copy editors work in newspapers or magazines only.

Most people would think they have a clear idea of what copy editing is or what copy editors do. After all, copy editing seems straightforward: editing copy. I thought that way too. But my first week on the job made me realize a lot of my assumptions were wrong.

Sources summarize copy editing as making copy correct, complete, concise, clear and consistent — the five Cs as the pros call them. It is often confused with either proofreading or developmental editing. You’d probably think that to be a successful copy editor, you’d have to love writing, or you’d need to be a grammar geek. But actually, the role goes beyond checking for subject-verb agreement and usage errors. So what does it actually take to be a copy editor?

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Original image:  “New new new journalism” by Menomena (Flickr). Used under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-Sa 2.0) license.

Myth: Copy editors need to have a degree in journalism, English or literature.

When I decided to leave my post as head writer in a TV show to pursue a career as a copy editor in a publishing solutions firm, friends and family members were confused as to  how to react. Unfortunately, copy editing is not a popular career where I come from.

Most people would think they have a clear idea of what copy editing is or what copy editors do. After all, copy editing seems straightforward: editing copy. I thought that way too. But my first week on the job made me realize a lot of my assumptions were wrong.

Sources summarize copy editing as making copy correct, complete, concise, clear and consistent — the five Cs as the pros call them. It is often confused with either proofreading or developmental editing. You’d probably think that to be a successful copy editor, you’d have to love writing, or you’d need to be a grammar geek. But actually, the role goes beyond checking for subject-verb agreement and usage errors. So what does it actually take to be a copy editor?

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