Leonard Witt, a journalism educator at Kennesaw State University, wondered what I was talking about when I titled my ACES seminar “The Future Doesn’t Need Us: Weblogs and the End of Editing as We’ve Known It.” So he interviewed me via AIM and I gave him a quick rundown.
Witt runs a blog called PJNet Today for people interested in the concept of public journalism (which makes me wonder, what would private journalism be?)
Some of what I said about volunteer bloggers is apt to cause them to denounce me as a dinosaur wondering what to do about the furry little mammals that are all over the place lately. And I’d say to them: if you were the dinosaur, what would you be doing? One offending passage:
- Witt: Okay, so what advice do you have for bloggers? And then for news organizations and especially copy editors.
Mangan: Bloggers need to understand that their typos, their misspellings, their errors in fact and judgment cost them in the eyes of readers, and if they insist on going it alone they have to be comfortable with a small audience of people who don’t hold their errors against them. For news orgs, though, we have to insist that ours is a collaborative business and that the extra few minutes we take to bring multiple perspectives on stories is time well spent. Our readers will forgive us for being five minutes late, but right, far sooner than they will forgive us for being first, but wrong.
This is basically my summation of why blogging matters to copy editors:
- Another reason why blogging seems like a threat to how we’ve always done things is that in some cases the blogging model is already happening in newsrooms: some editing is happening, but assigning editors are posting copy online and bypassing the copy desk completely. And corporate execs would love to be told, “look at blogs, they’re all unedited and people love them. Think how much more money we’d make if we weren’t paying all these editors.” We have to be zealous in insisting we are the guardians of the newspaper’s credibility, which is a kind of capital equipment we can’t afford to squander. If we tell ourselves that blogs and other online chores are somebody else’s job, that’s what they’ll become, but if all the news is online in the future, we won’t be part of it.