Gannett Layoffs and Why We Still Need Copyeditors

Photo courtesy of Nic McPhee via flickr

Photo courtesy of Nic McPhee via flickr

In a world where the fastest news can be fact-checked with a simple Google search and edited for typos with Microsoft Office, it seems that copyediting is not necessary. As long as the writer uses spellcheck and has the “AP Stylebook” on hand, there’s nothing to worry about. Why should a newsroom hire copyeditors?

The Gannett Company probably asked the same question. Earlier this month, Gannett laid off at least 70 of its USA Today employees. A good portion of them were copyeditors. Considering its plans to become the “newsroom of the future,” cutting the jobs of many of its copyeditors probably seemed wise.

However, Gannett also is hurting its own reputation in the process. Copyeditors are meant to help fix typos and misspellings (Gannett’s own name, perhaps?). It is also easy to find an article online, but facts can be incorrect.

Without copyeditors, several sources for news are going to become less professional. When Gannett lost its copyeditors, it also lost its chance to become a more fair and accurate newsroom.

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9 responses to “Gannett Layoffs and Why We Still Need Copyeditors

  1. I remember Gannett’s decision to lay off its copy editors, and I know they’re not the only ones, but I think that it’s still important to keep at least a few copy editors on staff because copy editors are more than just human spell-check. For writers, copy editors and editors in general can be sounding boards and can assist writers in finding a direction and interesting angle for their story, as we’ve learned so far in reading “Coaching Writers.” It’s unfortunate that newspapers think that they can get by without copy editors, but hopefully they’ll realize that putting all that responsibility on writers in addition to reporting and writing their stories might yield the unfortunate result of poor writing results as a result of time constraints.

  2. I feel like Gannett is a little to head of the times, when it comes to the fact that they laid off their copyeditors. Just because news is becoming so fastly different, and journalism is more and more technological each day, doesnt mean the old fashioned version way is necessarily wrong/outdated. Copy editors arent just there to fix grammar errors, they are also there to help the writers and make the stories better. They are the ones that make sure that what is being published, is a rock solid piece. I think that Gannett made a mistake, and they are going to suffer from it.

  3. I agree with the two previous comments; Gannett should not have laid off so many copyeditors, they are a large corporation and need to keep those important jobs filled. What a copyeditor does can be overlooked by people who have no clue what goes on at a newspaper, but without them the paper is surely to fail. I know it is still rough out their for businesses but I think it is a mistake to fire such a crucial part of a newspaper staff.

  4. I think laying off copyeditors is a risky move. If they wanted to lay off some, maybe, but all–I’m not so sure about that. Even though news sources are trying to be the first to the story, it won’t even be worth it if the news they are delivering is full of typos and inaccuracies. They will not be considered very credible, and this will affect them in the future. A copyeditor’s role is huge. A typo is easy to miss when you’re rolling out articles day after day. I’m curious to see if anyone else follows suit and how this change will continue to affect Gannett.

  5. I too feel that laying off copy editors is very risky. While I do think that every journalist needs to have a solid foundation of grammar and AP style, I do think that it’s hard to catch your own mistakes. On Friday I was quoted in a DMR article, which is owned by Gannett, and my last name was misspelled multiple times. I’d like to think if there was a copy editor, the writer may have not made this mistake.

    • My sympathies are with you. Spelling a source’s name is bad enough; it’s a pity no one caught it.

      To be honest, I am not a fan of Gannett. They purchased The Des Moines Register and replaced any non-local news with USA Today. The Des Moines Register is only two or three sections and mostly USA Today.

  6. I agree that what they did was a mistake. Nowadays, it’s easy to Google or use other resources when you’re unsure of grammar, but it doesn’t mean that you can always find the right answer from them. I think Gannett is forgetting that human contact and communication is a key aspect to journalism and editing.

  7. This is such a tricky subject. While I understand the thought process behind it, it’s a risky move. In the 24/7 news cycle we live in, it seems as though there are endless amounts of articles coming out every couple of minutes and that means lots of typos and grammar errors. Copyeditors aren’t perfect either, but they certainly play an important role in preventing such mistakes.

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