Writers will be editors of their own material

Thursday, October 2, 2008

By Austin Bates

Recently, Express Newspapers has let writers of the Daily Express and Sunday Express know that they may soon have to edit their own stories before finally submitting them. Express Newspapers has let it be known that they intend to eliminate around 80 editor and support staff positions between the two papers in order to cut costs and make themselves more efficient.

The new plan now is to have writers edit their own material with the help of a pre-made template that will be distributed by the newspaper layout designers, along with lawyers who will do a final check. The newspaper hopes this will keep them alive and running. Others are not so optimistic or happy with the decision, even expressing "anger".

If I was a writer, I'd have to say I would be a little angry as well. I also feel this could be risky, and overstress the capabilities of many of the writers. And editing will not be anywhere as good as it would be with a dedicated person.

Personally, I feel that first of all, having a writer also do his own editing is detrimental to the quality of that writer's work. He'll now not only have twice as much to do, but this means he also has much less time to work on his story, and has to allocate more time just to edit it. Further, the writer will be under a tighter deadline with more to do.

Second, an editor is dedicated to looking over a story and only looking for errors of all kinds, typographical, grammatical, and structural. Everybody knows that after writing something, you can't effectively edit it if it's your own work because not only will you be more concerned with little minute conceptual details, like whether you said want you wanted to say, and whether you sound good, but you won't catch your own mistakes even if you go over it several times, because many times your brain automatically corrects a sentence based upon your memory of what it should say. An editor has no preconceived notions of what a story should say, and will see the sentences that make little sense, or the out-of-context material much better than the writer could.

Overall, I think this sounds like a bad idea for everyone involved. Editors not only see things a writer couldn't have thought of or seen, but they find larger mistakes, like a lack of connection between ideas, or subtly incorrectly organized sentences. Dropping editors will only lead to more mistakes, more carelessness, and less time to perfect stories.


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