Media 101: Copy editors, the invisible workers

Colette Copeland
Colette Copeland Supplied photo

Colette Copeland’s job is to be invisible. In print, anyway.

As a freelance copy editor for publications like the Medical Post, Copeland has seen raw, uncorrected copy from Canada’s best-known journalists. And from off the record tales she told us, some of those journalists wouldn’t be where they are today without the skill and scrutiny of people like her.

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“You don’t have to be a great writer to be a great journalist,” Copeland reveals. “Everyone thinks they’re a great writer, but if they were all great writers, you wouldn’t need editors.”

Copeland says her editing abilities are instinctive. She’s always been adept with language and has an inherent knowledge of proper spelling and grammar. And she knows that a good editor never changes a word if they don’t have to.

“Good writing is a collaboration between a writer and an editor. One does not make the other. When a good writer, without a big ego, is open to discussing their work with a good editor, that’s when magic can happen.”

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