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.