Friday, 3 June 2011

Stylistic Editing - Harmful Manipulation or Harmless Preference?

Edits, rewrites, and outright rejections are all part of being a journalist; they’re something everyone expects when entering the realms of writing. Editors want reporters and they want individual and diverse articles - if that wasn’t the case, they could give the workload to a single person and have them teach others below them the “right” style.

This is what editors will have you believe, anyway. In truth, the alternate reality of a single person delegating and teaching is in practice, merely hidden as the “editor” role is played by the publisher, the top dog.

Publishers know exactly what they believe and think, and who can blame them? They’re human, they have opinions and they’re entitled to share them. Some, however, through luck and hard work, find themselves in a position to share these opinions on a phenomenally large scale.

Publishers of major news outlets are able to give the workload, be it driven by fact or opinion, to one single employee, the editor - whose job is to delegate and to teach. Editing often takes the guise of fact-checking, surplus-removing, grammar-correcting miscellany, but in reality it’s often a stylistic edit, making sure things are written the way the publisher wants.

This can be taken two ways - style meaning tone, or style meaning agenda. It’s no surprise or secret that employees must meet the publisher’s agendas, but tonal grooming is not so universally acknowledged. The diversity of tone masquerades as a diversity in readability, but is nothing more than diversity of personality. The publisher wants his editor to mold these personalities to backup the agenda.

It’s my opinion, or agenda if you wish, that the two strands of style are not exclusive. Rather, they serve each other and, in turn, the publisher. Agenda filters down to the journalists and returns stronger.
More weight is given to a cause when it has multiple followers in powerful positions, such as journalists.

A view is taken as fact when read through the eyes of a trusting member of the public, and fact is distorted by view when spoken through the mouth of the publisher, his editor, and their journalists.

60 comments:

  1. Great blog man! Being a writer isn't easy i agree. It's a lot of work and fact checking and mostly creativity. But when a writer is good, his written words really relate to the reader, adn that is hard to do. So respect to all writers and bloggers! Following.

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  2. that souns like creative editing

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  3. Wow, this is actually very interesting, following.

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  4. I've seen good writing in my time, and some that are not so good. It depends on my mood really.

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  5. Really depends. Reporting should be unbiased.

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  6. great post man !! only just found this blog, looks great though so will be following :D

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  7. il definitely agree about tone in mass publications

    great, hard to follow but great post ;)

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  8. I'm pretty new to journalism here

    Care to offer some advice?

    I added you on the Follow section thing.

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  9. Are you my english teacher? haha my professors examples he writes are just like that.

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  10. @pepsi_lover - If you're serious, let me know here or by private message. I'll give you my email or something :)

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  11. Great blog. keep it up. I am following.

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  12. "The diversity of tone masquerades as a diversity in readability, but is nothing more than diversity of personality. The publisher wants his editor to mold these personalities to backup the agenda."
    Is it not expected a publisher has an agenda & hires an editor & journalists who support it by tone, style, personality? Did I misinterpret your point?

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  13. @Charlie - Good point, I should have made my piece clearer in retrospect.
    I was talking more about an editor's relationship with a journalist. The public know that journalism can't be taken entirely seriously, both in fact and in tone, but a journalist believes they're part of this semi-lie. They're made to feel they're in the know with regards to the stylistic and factual biases, but I'm suggesting that they aren't. They're manipulated as much as the reader.

    It's also worth noting that when I'm talking about "the reader", I'm assuming they're the lowest common denominator.
    I'm talking to knowledgeable people about readers who are maybe slightly more naive when it comes to media bias. I believe there's more people like that out there than we would like to think.

    Thanks for taking an interest, and especially for challenging. Genuinely appreciate it!

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  14. I agree, so hard to get to the core of the facts with all the distortion of multiple perspectives

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  15. Really interesting facts to ponder about.

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  16. great background by the way

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  17. It's very sad that these agendas exist, especially when they are concerning important issues and the agendas are more than mere personal opinions.

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  18. very interesting read. thx.

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  19. would love to know more if possible ;D

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  20. @Pepsi_Lover - Great, drop me an email at chris-harman@hotmail.co.uk and I'll try my best to answer what I can or refer you to someone better qualified :)

    @Everyone else - thanks for the interest, took a look at all of your blogs and loved what you guys are doing! Keep it up!

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  21. Now more than ever I think it's important to support independent media.

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  22. There was an issue of an internal magazine that I write, in which most of the articles didn't make any sense, not because of editors, but because of layouts, if I put an word and then it was badly linked to another paragraph it created confusion.

    There are many sources of mistakes like this.

    thx for the follow

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  23. Boy, I really need to work on my writing...

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  24. Great blog. keep it up. I am following.

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  25. Great post, a very interesting read.

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  26. wow, you write very well, congratulations!

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  27. yeah was wondering if i could re read some of this stuff to my prof ;D

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  28. @Pepsi - You're more than welcome to pass this stuff on, but I'd be surprised if your prof appreciated it much! I try my best to write well for this blog, but when I don't have an editor's guidance it tends to steer into the mundane :P
    But by all means, go nuts!

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  29. A very insightful post - hard to follow at first, but you do have a point.

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  30. I think writing is a skill you born with.Everybody can write, but getting people read what you write is something can be achieved with some skills.

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  31. This is an extremely insightful post, I am very impressed.

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  32. Journalism has turned into complete shit...

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  33. I love the way you write man, good blog you got here.

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  34. I write fiction, so I see the same problem from a slightly different angle. But you're right, as much as you may try to make your writing your own, there are always influencing forces that compete for a claim at the piece's originality and integrity.

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  35. Stylistic Editing - Harmless Manipulation :P

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  36. Thank you for the informative, yet concise post. Looking forward to more! Definitely following :)

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  37. Haha, what pepsi lover said :P

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  38. Well written and very interesting.
    Following.

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  39. Its all a question of perception..

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  40. You made a good point, I guess everyone has their personal worldview which they try to share as much as they can. blogs aren't too different XD
    following.

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  41. wow this is what my English professor said last time around, nice post

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  42. I love this blog, my followers blogs, and I love my blog! The blogger community has made me such a better writer. Thanks guys.

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  43. Nice explications, but I really don't like the new, how things gets distorted and stuff, it kinda pisses me off. That's why I love the Internet xD

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  44. very interresting fact :)

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  45. Well, appearance makes everything looks bad or good, it's not a distraction, but as a writer, designer or whatever, normally, they don't like to see a published work of theirs that look ulgy, or too normal.

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  46. Very intriguing! I feel that the media is always slightly bias, I hardly ever believe anything from the media these days.

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  47. dude thats some interesting stuff
    followed!

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  48. Yea i agree with you bro

    Peace

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  49. I'm iffy on this. Great post though.

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