As the Editor-in-chief of El Estoque, I am responsible for maintaining the quality of the content that we publish, whether that is checking for grammar and spelling errors, making sure there is an organized structure or ensuring that the story teaches the reader something new.
AP STYLE & GRAMMAR
In the beginning of the year, all staff writers — new and returning — learn how to write according to the Associated Press (AP) style. All writers have access to a Powerpoint presentation, which includes some of the most important and widely used AP style details.
When our heads team, or leadership team, identifies a common mistake staff members make, we address the issue with the class in a brief grammar lesson. Most recently, we touched on how to use “its” vs “their” after noticing multiple staff writers use “their” to describe a singular subject like a sports team, for example.
Before each online story is published, it goes through a series of six edits. This year, our heads team decided to implement the angle edit, which requires that all staff writers send their editors a brief description of their story pitch as well as a clear identification of the specific angle the writer plans on taking. The main reason we decided to add this extra set of edits was to ensure that all stories have a clear goal and to prevent repetition of topics that have already been covered in the past.
When I make edits, I make suggestions and comment on the staff writer’s Google document. For minor spelling and grammar errors, I make suggestions directly onto the document, while for issues like AP style errors, disorganization or other more serious issues, I highlight the respective section and leave a comment. The reason why I choose to approach the edits process in this manner is because I want the staff writer to be able to learn through the edits process. By leaving suggestions on how to improve rather than directly editing the writers’ story itself, it is the responsibility of the writer to learn how to fix their errors.
MARRIAGE OF ELEMENT (MOE) MEETINGS
Print stories that are published in the monthly news magazine go through an extra round of edits for a total of 11 edits — six online and five on a physical draft of their page design. Because I am also the design editor for our publication, I edit nearly all of the print stories to make sure that the design is meaningful, eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing.
There is no perfect first draft, which is why at El Estoque, we implement such a thorough edits process. In the case that an error does happen to get past the editors, we assume full responsibility and announce corrections as necessary. If there is a more serious issue with a story late into the copy edit process, the heads team meets and discusses the best step to take moving forward. Sometimes this means pushing back the story until it is more complete, other times, it means working with the staff writer to refine and edit the story and in some instances, this can even mean cutting the story as a whole.