LEARNING OBJECTIVE: List the elements
applicable to copy editing and identify their
As a journalist assigned copy-editing duties, you
should always strive for accuracy, rather than speed You
might adopt the slogan, All I miss, they will print.
Before you try filling the seat of copy editor, make
sure you have a copy of the locally produced stylebook
(see Chapter 7 of the JO 1 & C TRAMAN), as well as
a copy of the latest version of The Associated Press
Stylebook and Libel Manual. Both books are designed
to standardize all newswriting and word usage for
internal publications and for news releases to civilian
The copy-editing guidelines covered in this section
are as follows:
Everyone in your office should be acquainted with
the locally accepted stylebook, but it is up to the copy
editor to catch any violations of good style.
It is annoying for an editor to pick up a story and
find, for example, the word avenue spelled out one
time, abbreviated as ave. a second time and written as
av. a third time. An office that is careless or
inconsistent about little things may eventually become
careless or inconsistent about big things. Once a news
medium loses respect for you, you might as well close
shop. No newspaper will take the chance of publishing
sloppy or carelessly prepared material.
Spelling, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation
and other mechanical aspects of grammar are details of
writing that have a tremendously important impact on
the clarity, readability and effectiveness of your copy.
Once your office gets away from using a set stylebook,
your news copy will slowly become a hodgepodge of
Editorializing happens when a writer consciously or
unconsciously expresses doubt, censure or praise in a
news story. The only persons permitted to express an
opinion in a straight news story are the persons in the
story itself. Even then, the opinion quoted must be
attributed to the person who gave it.
News stories should be written in the third person.
The writers personal opinions should never be injected
into a news story. Facts should be reported as they are
found, without personal pronouns referring to the writer.
Editorials are articles in newspapers or magazines
in which the views of their editors or those in control of
the periodicals are intentionally presented. However,
such articles are clearly identified and purposely set
apart from the publications news and features.
The electronic media also offer editorial opinions,
but they, too, take care to keep them separate from their
Editorials require a very specialized style of writing
the fundamentals of which will not be covered in this
training manual. The focus of this section is the
inclusion of personal opinions in your newswriting
through carelessness or by design.
Consider the following examples of editorializing
in straight news copy, then note the following
suggestions offered to eliminate the implied opinions:
Poor: Lt. Post is exceptionally well qualified
for the position.
Improved: Lt. Post, with a degree in law, has
eight years of experience as a Navy legal
Poor: An interesting program is planned for
tonight at the Officers Club.
Improved: Here is tonights program at the