Micro vs. Macro

Week Two on the desk was a bit less hectic than Week One.

Tuesday’s editing went fairly smoothly, and the only major question I remember having was in a crime story. The headline said “charged,” but the story said “arrested” — and though these two crime terms sound similar, they’re not quite the same. One can be arrested but not necessarily charged.

I talked with the reporter, and after I explained the dilemma, we cleared it up: The person was just arrested on the suspicion of the crime. The crime section is one of my weaker ones in terms of copy editing, so I’m glad I got a refresher on some of that terminology so early on.

Thursday’s editing session contained more confusion, particularly with two stories.

One was about trailers being removed from a middle school. On my first read-through, the story seemed fairly straightforward, and I did a lot of microediting (e.g., correcting AP style errors). But then, when I started reading it for a second time, I had some difficulty understanding what the reporter was trying to say — and what various numbers meant in the context of the story and the big picture.

I worked a lot with Monica, one of the news editors, on clearing up the questions and trying to revise the story so it made sense. We ended up doing a lot of macroediting in the first few graphs, essentially putting those the numbers in the story like you’d put together one of those Russian nesting dolls: starting with the smallest number (doll) and adding the next biggest number until the entire picture was complete.

Those who know me well know it’s no surprise I looked at the details first — my close (OK, sometimes bordering on annoying) attention to detail makes microediting come more easily to me. Macroediting is more of a challenge, which I enjoy, and reporting for Liz in the spring and working at the Writing Center (where I’m not allowed to microedit) really helped me with that before I dove back into copy editing this past summer. Continuing to improve in that regard is one of my goals this semester; another is continuing to improve my headline writing.

The second story was a sports story. I played softball and basketball once upon a time, so I’m comfortable with those, but volleyball, for example, remains a bit of a struggle to understand. So, I ask a lot (and I mean a lot — ask the sports reporters and editors from my Maneater days) of questions so I can better understand them. And although I’m starting to learn names of players and positions, I wouldn’t call myself an expert quite yet.

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