Sunday, April 10, 2011

Attempt at Introduction

This blog, closed nearly four years ago, reflects a particular time and space in journalism. Events in the intervening years have made much of what I wrote seem quaint.

To summarize: For several years in the early 2000s, it seemed as though print and online worlds could cozily coexist. The general line in newsrooms at the time was that online products would supplement -- but never replace -- the printed newspaper. Publications across the country still employed scores of copy editors to polish stories and write headlines.

There are still copy editors, of course, and there are still printed newspapers. But there are fewer of each. Few have written off print entirely, but there's a growing understanding that much journalism of the future will be experienced in an online, connected environment.

And the job of the copy editor as I understood it -- as copy editors understood it -- has morphed into something else entirely. Style mistakes can now be fixed after publication online. Headlines, likewise, can shift. Many editors were already designing pages when I wrote this blog, now many are updating websites, learning about databases and writing web-optimized headlines.

Thus, when I go through these entries, I see post after post dealing with ephemera. It's fun ephemera, to be sure, and worthwhile on its own terms. But in today's news media landscape, it seems quaint.

The blog shifted over its four years. Its original title, "Copy Massage," changed to "Editor Evolved." (I still think a blog with the title and mission of "Editor Evolved" has a place, but I'm more interested in the experience than the documentation these days.) I wrote many posts dealing with the shifts that, even then, were taking place.

But many more posts dissected style errors, called out wrongdoers and otherwise splashed around the nascent evolutionary pools of the blogosphere. Please treat them gently. They come from a different world.

You won't find every single "Copy Massage" and "Editor Evolved" post here. A handful seemed too mean, tacky or slight to retain. And as an editor, it has been difficult to resist tweaking a headline here or a phrase there. If you want to see how things went down at the time, check out

That's enough from me. My personal website,, features recent creative work by yours truly. My Facebook and Twitter accounts contain updates on my daily wanderings.

Stay focused, alert and creative -- readers deserve no less.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Conversion Attempts

Please bear with me as I resurrect this blog. Editor Evolved is a bit of a time capsule, but I've decided against consigning it to the past altogether.

All five years' worth of posts will appear as I uncover them in my archives (and's caches). Links may not work. All will straighten itself out in time.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Newspaper of the Future, pt. 2

I'll add a few points to the list I started yesterday. I'll start with an obvious one.

8.) It may not be on paper at all. It may be on some sort of portable device. Newspaper publishers have invested for years in flexible, e-paper displays that feel like newsprint but update like websites. None of the projects have come to fruition ... yet.

9.) Its readers may not be united by geography. They may be a community of interest or enthusiasm.

10.) It will shift and evolve rapidly, as its readers' needs shift and evolve.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Newspaper of the Future

My predictions (wishes?), in list form.

1.) It will have fewer pages and be physically smaller (perhaps tabloid) in size.

2.) It will have longer articles that offer more in-depth reporting an analysis.

3.) It will be precisely targeted, either in terms of geographical area or interest.

4.) It will have a vivid voice, which will provoke reader reaction.

5.) It will be sleekly designed.

6.) It will have a web component that will complement, not duplicate its contents.

7.) It will either be free or more expensive than today's papers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not just Romenesko, of course

I don't want to give the impression that Jim Romenesko's sins are his alone.

Other journalists are just as guilty. They write about the New York Times or the Washington Post and present the struggles they find as the struggles of "the industry."

Please. The news media contains many industries and does many things. It serves many markets. Reporters and editors and photographers and bloggers exist in cities other than New York and D.C. Their work will continue, whatever becomes of the name-brand institutions.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Is Romenesko bad for journalism?

Jim Romenesko's site harms the news media.

Let me say that again, in case any of you missed it: Jim Romenesko's site harms the news media. It's not the only negative force, of course, but that doesn't excuse it.

Let me take a step back and acknowledge that I, like everyone else in journalism today, can't help but read Romenesko's media news blog. I began in the summer of 2001 and continued for years. But I want to stop.

Here's the basic reason why:

Romenesko keeps us from doing our jobs.

That's bad, bad, bad. Journalism derives its credibility from covering the news that affects everyday people. Journalism's basic function is providing accurate information and communicating it in a pithy way. Romenesko interferes with that function.

His blog focuses on individuals who work in the media. So the focus shifts from the stories we do to the people who cover the stories. Who cares about beat reporting? Let's debate the importance of Katie Couric or Bill Keller. Self involved? Check. A distraction? Check.

Romenesko also presents the national media as an entity. If its on his blog, it's news. So a plagiarizing college reporter sits beside a disgraced media executive, a reassigned columnist and some nonprofit report.

What do these things have to do with each other? Nothing, except appearing on Romenesko. That's enough. They also divert our attention from a central point of journalism:

It's local.

If you don't work at the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or USA Today (and that covers the vast majority of active journalists, if you can believe it), your primary job is covering your particular area. Its personalities, its disputes, its very nature.

Experts in the field say local coverage is the key to news organizations' survival, but who needs an expert to tell you that? If you purchase a newspaper or visit a local website, you want to know what's happening around you.

That also means that the business side of journalism is, primarily, a local business. Some papers and sites continue to do well in that local business. But you wouldn't know that from the constant doom and gloom on Romenesko. Yes, outside forces buffet journalism. But there have always been threats to our mission -- and news folks kept doing their jobs.

Romenesko threatens that. The blog portrays a single, monolithic journalistic entity plodding aimlessly toward its own destruction. Then it provides a forum for people to complain about that plodding. Then people complain about the complainers.

What does this have to do with journalism? Nothing.

Poynter, I'm looking at you.


2010 update

Ha. Oh, my. I still think some of my points here stand up, but of course Jim Romenesko's site isn't bad for journalism. (It may indeed distract folks, but so does visiting YouTube.)

From a remove of three years, I'd say that Jim was, in his way, covering an important story. The news media of the time was too self-involved. That has changed. Folks are finally buckling down and doing the work of creating a new, vibrant media landscape. And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Searched, Searcher, Searching

Without further ado, I'm proud to present the return of the Copy Massage - Editor Evolved search term feature. Here are the phrases and words people used to find this blog over the last month. My comments follow.

how to write a stylebook entry
good friday massege
"true massage stories"
sucker abbreviate *
run the gauntlet gantlet
tasked a verb copyeditor **
philadelphia lost my copy of my GED
new republic david sedaris entire article
efforting definition
front page quote apostrophe gripe
how can I write farewell massage
Definition of the word efforting
"In their hearts, writers think of editors" ***
editor evolved
evolvEd editor
"concord monitor" pride

* I believe that would be suc.
** This copy editor says, "No, no, no!"
*** I only wish this were the case.