Thursday, April 19, 2007

Corn is crack for a trout

Thanks to Kathy Schenck for the subject line. :-)

The Miami conference is off to a great start -- as always, fabulous planning and execution! Wednesday was all about catching up with old friends, making new ones and trying out the hammocks on the pool deck. (Go for the one in the middle -- unless you're excited about falling through.)

This morning, Jay Wang of and I checked out the Intro to Online Editing session with Leslie-Jean Thornton of Arizona State University. After a brief history of Internet language and the evolution of participatory journalism (from 9/11 to the London bombings to Hurricane Katrina and, this week, the Virginia Tech shootings), Thornton explained how copy editors fit into Web 2.0.

So who is going to edit all this stuff? With an overwhelming amount of information, Thornton said one way copy editors can be instrumental is to insist on the right to see their company's material before it goes online. As articles and photos come in from separate feeds, you're going to end up with some gaffes without putting a pair of eyes on the combination at some point. Citing The Washington Post's 51-second World Wide Whoops, Thornton explained how quickly bad information spreads as it is picked up by RSS aggregators and immediately archived. Unlike print corrections, news organizations will have a hard time hitting the same audience with updated information.

Another hot topic was how this affects copy editing duties. In the near future, Thornton said, copy editors will be expected to know how to
  • copy and paste text and art into templates
  • correct material directly in code
  • edit audio
  • edit video
  • make live updates and corrections
  • search constantly changing media
  • enter multimedia software to edit and
  • understand search engine optimization (SEO).

Yikes! The good news is that lots of people in the session were already experimenting with many of these ideas, and there was a good exchange of strategies. At some newspapers, copy editors are even doing podcasts and videocasts, often the result of their own enthusiasm for multimedia, rather than as an initiative from above.

Speaking of above, it's time to find my old boss for lunch!

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