Saturday, April 21, 2007

It sucks being late to this party

It took me this long to blog at the ACES conference! Local elections kept me at work in the Chicago area through Wednesday night, meaning I couldn't get to the ACES conference until about 3 p.m. Thursday, and I wasn't quite conscious. Nevertheless, I recognized so many ACES regulars Thursday night. It's gratifying to see ACES brings people back year after year, even if they must pay their own way. It's also simply nice to see all the people who have become my friends over the years; there's a feeling of home that I always really appreciate.

Meanwhile, I got caught up Friday, and like every year, I made new acquaintances. Like Willis McGee of the Miami Herald. He was one of the people I consulted in seeking information about a newspaper making the transition to online editing -- a hot topic around the ACES conference (we do have our online track this year, after all).

The Miami Herald is one paper where the copy editors all have a role in editing copy for its Web site, making sure to hit the right buttons to get the stories there once they're done editing them -- a process, Willis admits, that wasn't easy to remember to go through in the early days. I say "early days" as if it was years ago, but as we all know, it's all so new, so I hear many people say more or less that their newspapers are kind of winging it: Just get something on the Web fast, we'll worry about the editing later. Certainly my paper is operating its Web site that way.

Some newspapers are dedicating writers and editors to their Web sites, but I suspect many papers will go the way the Miami Herald is going: All copy editors will be involved. We'll edit the copy, wherever it goes. There's trepidation in that, there are new things to learn with that (tailoring headlines specifically for the Web, for instance), but there is excitement in that. Once we convince online and top editors that the Web copy needs editing, too (or as some of us were saying at the bar last night, once someone gets sued for a libelous post), we copy editors will have all kinds of fun stuff to edit.

Did I say ... bar? So much of the good discussion goes on there, don't you know. (I suppose it happens at breakfast, too, for those few morning types here.)

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