Voice coach

John Robinson, my friend and former colleague at the News & Record, has said that reporters’ blogs do not need editing in the same way as their stories in the print newspaper. Part of his argument is that copy editing will deaden the tone of newspaper blogs:

The best blogs have a unique voice, the voice of the blogger. Almost by definition, editing would quiet that.

That point of view came to mind again recently when a student stopped by my office. This student is one of five working at The News & Observer this semester, reporting for that newspaper’s Under the Dome blog.

Under the Dome is a long-running column of political tidbits, mostly about state government. The blog version recently celebrated its first birthday. In print and online, the Dome column has a mildly snarky tone and speaks of itself in the third person once in a while: “Dome has learned…”

I asked the student about his semester at the N&O. Here’s a reasonable recreation of that part of our conversation:

ME: How has your Dome experience been?

STUDENT: Good. I’ve really enjoyed it and learned a lot.

ME: Are your posts edited before they go online?

STUDENT: Yes. My posts are edited by the main reporter in charge of Dome.

ME: In what way?

STUDENT: The biggest thing was to put voice into the posts. He said my copy was a bit dry.

ME: So he reworked your writing to fit the tone of Dome?

STUDENT: Exactly. He really helped.

In this case at least, editing didn’t diminish the blog’s voice. It made it loud and clear.

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5 thoughts on “Voice coach

  1. Well, as we both know — N&O alums that we are — the N&O always does things backassward.

  2. At my paper, we have neither the time or personnel to editing blogs on top of copy. The best I can do is point out embarrassing mistakes in blogs when I spot them — misspelled proper nouns, incorrect facts, math that doesn’t add up, run-on sentences, sentence fragments, that sort of thing.

    Mr. Robinson, one would think, has been around long enough to know that not all editing affects tone and “voice.” Most editing, in fact, objectively saves reporters from themselves.

    And that’s the sort of editing that should always be done, regardless of platform.

    Jim Thomsen
    http://jimthomsen.wordpress.com/

  3. “John Robinson, my friend and former colleague at the News & Record, has said that reporters’ blogs do not need editing in the same way as their stories in the print newspaper. Part of his argument is that copy editing will deaden the tone of newspaper blogs.”

    And today’s newsroom managers continue to show why they’re guiding their newspapers toward ruin.

  4. Pingback: We beat ourselves « The Editor’s Desk

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