Adventures of a copy editor

I like my job.

It’s seven and a half hours (wait, does that need hyphens?) of sitting, staring at a computer, fixing other people’s mistakes and praying I don’t make any of my own.

Incredibly, I’m entering my fourth week at Brunswick News as their copy editing intern.

Even more incredibly, I haven’t gotten fired yet.

My first couple weeks were spent learning the very basics. I later got moved to the 5 p.m. shift, which comes with more responsibilities. The newspaper I take care of – The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton’s daily – has a deadline for its last page around 12:30, which means I need to make sure everything’s done before then.

I’m pretty sure I’ve caused/allowed several mistakes to make it into the newspaper in my brief time at BNI.

At the beginning of my shift, there is a low-to-moderate level of work to be done. If the Gleaner has nothing in the queue, I help out with other publications. Once we get past roughly 9 p.m., the queue empties out again and I’m left waiting. That’s as good a time as any to take a lunch break.

As 11 p.m. approaches, things start heating up again. Reporters are filing their last stories, sports events have wrapped out and wire copy is coming in.

Crunch time.

It’s tough to describe the moment. The excitement of crushing story after story in the queue; the paralyzing fear of getting overwhelmed, missing something important (I missed “DNP” in a headline on A1 – it should’ve said NDP, as in the political party – thankfully, that was caught by another copy editor) and just somehow screwing up; the irritation at common errors that waste your time; and of course, the overwhelming relief once the final page has been sent on its way.

I could see myself doing this as a career.

It’s true that the newspaper business is in pretty bad shape, but as long as people don’t know how to spell or otherwise communicate properly, there will always be a need for copy editors.

That’s great news for a guy like me who’s trying to make it in the business.