Define the Editing Process

New York Times Magazine image used for educational and journalistic purposes

Posted by Chelsey Teachout

The writing process is summed up by Roy Peter Clark and Donald Fry in Coaching Writers as “Idea. Report. Organize. Draft. Revise.” What does the editing process look like summed up in a few words? It might be something like “Slash. Burn. Rewrite.” or “Read. Comment. Coach.” depending on how much diplomacy an editor uses.

Since writers get credit for partaking in the writing process, shouldn’t editors get credit for their work in the editing process as well? Bloomberg, Reuters, and the New York Times Magazine already include editors’ names at the end of their stories.  Maybe most editors don’t get credit for the work they do on individual articles because most people don’t understand what they do.

A recent blog by Tom Scocca of Slate Magazine mentions this new trend of crediting editors within an article or story. Scocca writes, “The New York Times Magazine is introducing credits for editors at the end of its features, to give readers a fuller sense of how the magazine is made…adding one more name to a story doesn’t even begin to illuminate the mysteries of the editorial process.” Scocca then includes a bulleted list of tongue-in-cheek scenarios for the editing process a feature might go through, which include a series of editors.

Scocca brings up a good point about the mysteries of the editing process. The editing process is not defined. This is the first semester that I have studied it. My other experiences with it stem from working on news stories or editing papers for my friends.  Although editing may be a smaller fraction of the entire creative process, it is necessary for the clarity of an article.  The steps of the editing process need some clarity as well. If editors are just beginning to receive credit for the stories that they have worked on, then editing has been a deeply hidden act.

Scocca’s blog made me want to know even more about the editing process. Is there an editing process similar to the writing process found in Coaching Writers? This book explains how editors can better facilitate writers, but it does not simplify the process.  Are there a few words that can sum the editing process up?  Why is editing so mysterious?


One response to “Define the Editing Process

  1. Do other people have questions about the editing process? Also, are there major aspects of this discussion that I ‘m leaving out?

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