The Butchered Gist of the Editorial Process

Hello kids, today we’ll be having a super quick, super brief talk about how a media’s editorial process goes.

I’ll start like this.

My brother-in-law was recently attacked online. He is a frequent contributor to our publication and is one of the fastest and intelligent writers I have met. I mean, the bastard didn’t graduate from journalism with a cum laude in the country’s top university, if he wasn’t a great writer.

The said attack wasn’t really big. Just a few comments from overzealous fanatics of Pokemon Go. Yeah, you read that right. My brother-in-law was assigned by my editor to write a review of the recently released mobile app, Pokemon Go, which is currently flooding social media feeds.

Pokemon Go is blocked in this country. However, people have managed to get around this for a time, until Nintendo and the app developer, Niantic, pointed the gun by basically saying, “If we catch you’ve sideloaded the APK, we’ll ban your device.” Though my colleague has informed me that only the account will be banned. I don’t know which for certain. This blog post isn’t about that.

Anyway: My Bro-in-law did quite a well-written review of the game. He currently lives in a different country, somewhere in EU, which has allowed him to download and play the entire Pokemon app without restrictions.

As soon as the article was published both in print and online, the attack began, for, a brief time really. My bro-in-law is okay with it. He’s a writer and we all know writers need a thick skin. Plus, journalists get bashed all the time. What was completely inane is the reason why people were bashing him.

His headline, as the people put it, nothing but a click bait, because of its headline. Technically it wasn’t a click bait, though I do see where all the misunderstanding came from. He talked about how Pokemon Go is an excellent fitness app and the original headline was true to the content. However, the published article had a very different headline, which has suggested that the game was released in the country. Again, technically, the app has indeed made its way through mobile devices around here, so it wasn’t completely wrong. Plus, the local authorities, had released a statement, discouraging people from being unmindful in the street while playing Pokemon Go. The statement was released before it was declared that the app was blocked in the country.

Now that the backgrounder has been settled. Here’s how the editorial process works. I’ll bullet it down to make it a bit easier to follow.

  • Section editor assigns writer a topic. Or, writer pitches topic to editor. In my brother-in-law’s case, the former.
  • Author does research, writes the article, and submits on or before the deadline.
  • Articles go to copywriters and proofreaders to fix grammar, before sending to the editor.
  • Editor butchers the article, changing what they believe needs to be changed.
  • Editors do not edit grammar. (They do, actually, but not as much as you’d think.) The editor ensures that articles maintain in excellent form and accurate, as it represents the publication’s integrity and credibility.
  • Editor contacts author for any clarification, if necessary. If changes were big, editor will return the article to the author for revisions.
  • Author re-submits.
  • Editor, satisfied, can still make changes, such as editing the headlines.
  • Some publications, the article will ascend to the more crucial eyes of other section editors, such as the managing editor and the editor-in-chief, for final approval. Though this isn’t always the case.
  • Article is scheduled for publishing.

In our case, the editor wasn’t even at fault here and I would go as far as blame the assistant editor. Normally, the assistant editor will do most of the preliminary editing and the editor will simply double check. Sometimes if two people have been working for a long time and they trust each other very well, then, sometimes the editor will just glance at the final layout, just to make sure that everything is smooth sailing. (Mostly, he checks if articles are too old to publish, or if they contract another article.)

Our department isn’t about delivering straight news. It’s about talking about technology, at the same time, trying to sound cool. The assistant editor originated as a sports writer, so he can’t help himself craft some witty punchlines in articles and headlines. I am at fault as well, I thought the headline “sounded” all right. I tried to reason with the assistant editor that the headline may be wrong, since the Pokemon Go app hasn’t really launched officially in this country. The assistant editor, rebutted that technically the app made it to the country, and there was nothing wrong about the headline. He called those who attacked my brother-in-law, “morons” and “motherfucker idiots.”

Truthfully, I agree. But don’t mind me. That was based from my cognitive bias cause it’s my brother-in-law that had been digitally bashed. But I do protest about the headline change and I am beating myself with it, as I had the voice to earlier sway the assistant editor’s opinion before the article was published.

I read a lot of articles from different websites. My favorite ones are Polygon, Wired, and Killscreen. I frequent IGN now and then, Kotaku, and Rolling Stone. Forbes, Wall Street, Paris Review, New York Times, and the New Yorker are special mentions. I like hanging out in the Gawker too, once in a while. I even sometimes read Vogue and Cosmopolitan, just because. Playboy and FHM are certainly not out of the question. I wrote that last sentence with a wink. Funny, yah? … Anyway, the point is, the comments section are often flourishing in those websites. If there was an undesirable content there, even things considered as click bait, the comments were always directed to the website itself, not the author, never the author.

So it hit me. People who comment in websites like Polygon, which is an American-owned website, are mostly, well, Americans. Is there an intelligence barrier here? I am certain those who had commented in the Pokemon Go article weren’t kids – while kids certainly have the capacity to spit out all the Hell on earth with their dirty fucking mouths – they wouldn’t follow media publications, especially news outlets. So, these people has to be at that age to be at least, following the publication. That’s a weak theory, I’m aware of that, but let’s proceed with that as it is.

We read articles from various publications to gather information, to discover, to become aware, all to develop well-informed and relevant opinions. The internet was supposed to make things easier for all of us to learn what’s happening from one corner of the world to the next. And yes, we’re supposed to care and understand what’s happening. Think the recent Brexit doesn’t concern you? Think again.

Is it such an alien concept that writers have their own bosses that may alter bits and pieces of the originally submitted draft? Or is it because, with the large amount of blogs online, such as Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Livejournal (does this still exist? Beyond George R.R. Martin and Scott Lynch’s?) and whatever other networks out there that allows people to simply jot down a few paragraphs and post it where the whole world can see, unfiltered, unaltered, raw to its purest form, that they simply assume online publications behave the same way?

Professional media isn’t a blog. Articles published by professional media are assessed by copywriters, proofreaders, and editors. It goes under the lens, to be examined if the content will be interesting to draw readers out.

At this point I had the perfect ending sentence. Unfortunately I literally sneezed and for some god damn reason, I forgot what it was, making me doubt that it was really good at all. Anyway, my brother-in-law is somewhere in EU, as I said, enjoying Pokemon Go. All those who bashed him can burn in hell while they wait for weeks or even months before the official release here.

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