Leadership roles: editing the paper completely

As and Editor-in-Chief it is essential that you are one of the last set of eyes, next to the advisor that oversees what goes into publishing- therefore a strong background in AP style is necessary.

For our staff, we usually read Bobby Hawthorne’s The Radical Write, which gives staff an easy transition into the new stylistic elements of news writing, and specifically to our copy editing board, we run more intensive training in AP style.

Below are the guidelines the Editors-in-Cheifs abide by when checking our staff’s paper along the way.

Within The Pony Express we have devised a system that strategically copy edits and assures growth along the way of our staff’s writing. The process is as follows: brainstorming, planning forms, S-check one, S-check two, final revision, and publishing.

The Pony Express has a very large staff, therefore we have a large inflow of story ideas. Each student is required a minimum of seven index cards, each with a story idea for one of our 12 writing sections. Form there, the head editors along with our advisor assign story ideas, after the students have sifted through to find the best ideas.

Once stories are assigned we usually have forms for students to plan their stories out- as an editor, it is my responsibility to brainstorm with students potential sources they can contact for an interview, or ways to make a multimedia story (photo story, infographic, podcast) on the side. Following this, we have two checking systems to assure progression of writing and editing. This is where a solid AP style understanding comes into play- which I will admit, I have slipped up on when considering quotes, but nonetheless have learned from my mistakes.

S-checks are simply grading systems, the more progression of the story, the closer the score is to perfect. S-check one is the responsibility of the Editors-in-Chiefs to handle, it is a midway between planning and halfway done, furthermore, S-check two is our advisors responsibility, where she gives ‘teacherly’ assistance to staff before their final copy is due.

Final revision is definitely where I have struggled with my staff, each student is different, and some are just harder to get through to than others. We have a system where, once the final copy is revised (post-turn in) we put it onto a Mac server for the print editors to have readily at their fingertips for InDesign. This is a difficult process, where in short, I have to be very patient in teaching my staff to correctly do.

Once on to publishing, we have copy editors revise once more, and the story is published in either print, online, or both.

Copy editing is an intensive process on our staff, one taken very seriously. Of course there are always occasional slip-ups in published media, and if that occurs online, then it is my responsibility to correct. In print, we discuss it with the class, take record of it, and agree that the next issue is a new slate- it is all part of the process, not the end of the world.

To check out how I have devised a plan for online, check out my articles under the Online Layout and Design category.


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