Saturday, October 18, 2003

The Trap of Expectations

No one manages perfection all day, every day.

Basic? Obvious? Not to the copy editor. The editor strives for perfection. The editor wants to ensure that every word, every comma, every headline fits into the newspaper exactly.

How does this happen? It doesn't. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of copy editing gods. Putting out a newspaper seven days a week means compromise. Perhaps the story takes a skim rather than an in-depth read. Perhaps we don't fix the questionable "fact" so much as fuzz it up. Perhaps we close our eyes, press the "send" key and pray for the best.

As I've learned the job, I've learned how important it is to retain realistic expectations. I want to do my best on every story. But other considerations -- time being the biggest -- intrude.

Copy editing effectively translates to doing the most we can with the resources we have. The finished product might not be perfection. But the newspaper has to be printed. It has to be delivered.

Temper the goals with a bit of reality, folks (and by folks, I mean me). And keep on rolling.