From captions and graphics to headlines and tweets to newsletters and articles themselves, the copy desk section sees nearly all of the content The Daily Gamecock produces. It is generally considered “the last line of defense” against factual errors and inaccuracies.
I pride myself on my work for our paper. I’ve been with it since freshman year, and I’ve been the copy desk chief for over a year now. I know what I’m doing, and I’m good at it. This semester, it doesn’t feel like it.
Several articles I’ve edited this semester have had some sort of error that was only identified after the article was published. Some of these errors were basic mistakes — someone’s name misspelled, for example — and some were errors that a little more clarification or investigation on my end would’ve solved. The mistakes have worn on me all semester.
One night I vented about all of this to two of my friends, also section editors for The Daily Gamecock. I mentioned that the whole point of copy desk is that no one notices when our job is done well.
As a result, as I train two assistants, I have been paying attention to what they haven’t missed. I made the conscious decision to mention I had noticed when a particular error wasn’t showing up in one assistant’s work anymore. I made the conscious decision to thank the other for noticing small inconsistencies that, when corrected, improved the overall content of the article.
I’m especially conscious of noting what they do correctly when I send a long list of errors back to them. I can't define their work by their mistakes.
One of my friends gave me a piece of advice that I want to share with you now: Notice the small accomplishments for yourself, too.
It has helped me get through these last few weeks when nothing has felt like enough, both for the paper and in other facets of my life. Maybe I didn’t develop that essay as much as it needed, but I still finished it. Maybe that assignment for my internship was submitted later than I wanted, but it was still submitted on time. Maybe I’ve made embarrassing mistakes in articles recently, but I still catch most errors.
I’m proud of my editors, my friends and my family for all their accomplishments, big and small, even when they feel surrounded by mistakes and setbacks.
I’m allowed to be proud of mine, and you’re allowed to be proud of yours.
— Makayla Hansen, copy desk chief