A Look Into the Life of a Copy Editor

By Sarah Sanchez, scs142@txstate.edu

Melissa Field may not be on the front lines reporting the action, but she is the last line of defense before those stories go to print, making her role vital when publishing a newspaper.

 Field is the desk chief for Stars and Stripes, an independent newspaper for the U.S. Military. For Mass Comm Week, she shared her knowledge and general tips on copy editing, and even gave those in attendance an opportunity to practice their own editing skills.

During her presentation, Field gave a lot of advice on what to look for when editing a story, and  some insight into her day-to-day life on the job.

“I’m in the office by 6:30 a.m., out of the office by 2:30 p.m.,” Field said. “It’s brutal, but at least I can see the day.”

Field said that one of her daily struggles is trying to narrow down a story where there is a lot of information. She gave the audience many tips on what to look for when editing, such as, paying attention to detail, double-check for first references and more.

Photo by Sarah Sanchez Field gave the audience a change to practice their editing skills.
Photo by Sarah Sanchez
Field gave the audience a chance to practice what she does everyday and edit real, already published articles.

“Spell check,” Field said. “Just do it.”

Towards the end of Field’s presentation, the audience was given examples of different articles and had the chance to practice editing the same type of stories that she edits every day.

Field said that while Stars and Stripes follows AP style most of the time, the newspaper has their own writing style too. For example, “service member” in AP style is two words, but in Stars and Stripes they write it as “servicemember.”  

Moderating the event was senior lecturer Elizabeth Clark. Clark teaches a class on editing at Texas State, and shared some knowledge to editing stories as well.

“Read skeptically,” Clark said. “Does (the story) make sense or flow logically?”

For more information about the newspaper visit the Stars and Stripes website.

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