Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Journalism is a state of mind...

By John Cheeran
It was Charles Lamb who wrote that wood has entered the soul. Well, wood makes for a good desk in contemporary journalism. A sub-editor's worst enemy is a reporter who thinks she writes like Jane Austen. And when editor asks the sub to set aside his pride and prejudice, and pray to the god of QuarkXpress and make the page, you have your morning paper.
Editors aver that journalism has changed. Yes, it has, indeed. It is for the reader to decide whether it has changed for good, or bad. In the dialectics of journalism there has always been a room for the tension between reporters and copy editors. When it worked well, well, it served the newspaper's objectives of clarity and information.
This is an age when newspaper managements wonder about what copy editors do at all in the newsroom. Do we need them at all when all these well-heeled and well-taut reporters, write?
The case for copy editors was brilliantly argued by Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten, when he wrote his celebrated piece "If You Were Like I," on June 22, 2008. He showed what a copy editor worth his weight in gold could do by leaving room for 60 corrections in a column of 617 words. (optional)
The tragedy of today’s journalism, in India and elsewhere, is that reporters have been allowed to delude that they are writers. Editors have failed to tell reporters that their job is to report, not to write. There was a time when journalism was not writing fiction, but finding facts and asking irksome questions. Those days, a good copy editor could have made sense out of what was thrown at him. Now every a quote a reporter writes is fabricated, and such lazy ones, that the desk pukes at the brazen audacity of reporter retching the same gems.
Brazenness does not end there. When reporters wantonly walk away from the task of providing even basic information such as the person who was spoken to and his or her designation, the desk has been advised to Google it. If not for Internet, reporters would have been asphyxiated by now. It is important to remember that every copy must be edited, including this one. Journalism is a state of mind, and you cannot pretend that you have it.

1 comment:

virender said...

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Thnx & Rgds

John Cheeran at Blogged