New York Times Copy Editors on the Chopping Block


New York Times reporters and other staff members staged a walkout recently to protest deep cuts to the paper's copy editing staff. I was touched by the gesture.

Copy editors spend their days picking apart writers' work. It's our job to be a thorn in their sides, nitpicking everything from missing commas to badly written sentences (that we're not shy about labeling badly written). We ask all kinds of deliberately stupid questions to highlight the holes in their stories. As someone who's been on both sides of the process, I can tell you how annoying it is when an editor asks you to check a name spelling in a story you've already forgotten about in your rush to meet your next deadline.

But, of course, we're all on the same team—working to assure that the finished product is the best it can be. And, of course, writers appreciate copy editors' contributions.


"As a journalist, I've been saved by my copy editors many, many times," Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter for the New York Times Magazine who took part in the walkout, told CNN. "They play a critical role in the newsroom."

Nice to hear.