The recent CNN article, Why “Amercia” Needs Copy Editors, shows some editorial goofs in the news, errors that could have been avoided, as the article points out, if a copy editor had reviewed the material.
But the article also reminds me about what it takes to be a news copy editor besides being skilled at language and fact checking like all copy editors. News copy editors must also know a mountain of facts and details about the world. They must be, as the author of EditTeach.org puts it, “walking databanks about local and world affairs—in short, they must know a little about everything.” See the sample tests from the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern program available on the EditTeach.org website to realize just what that means.
A few examples of the fill-in-the blank items from some of those tests:
(2012 test) Frank Buckles, the last U.S. veteran of ___________, died at the age of 110. His death came in the same year that marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the ___________ War.
(2010 test) ___________ abruptly quit as a judge of “American Idol.”
(2000 test) The U.S. defeated China, 1-0, to win the World Cup in the sport of ___________ before the largest crowd ever to see a women’s sporting event.