April 24, 2009

What Is an Editor?

For someone with a finely nuanced understanding of science journalism and writing, Bora Z of A Blog Around the Clock demonstrates a remarkably narrow view of what an editor does. True, it may not all be his fault. The notion that editors are little more than gatekeepers with red and blue pencils is widespread.

Of course, this point of view is most prevalent among people who have never worked with an editor. To find it in someone who has worked with academic editors and editors of the anthology he stewards is a bit surprising. I don’t know whether he’s never worked with a good editor (doubtful but sadly possible), hasn’t paid enough attention to the details of that interaction, or is glossing over the knowledge to make a point. Or, knowing Bora, maybe he’s just being provocative and waiting for someone to call him on it.

I’m calling him on it now, not just because I am an editor, but because I’ve had the privilege to work with some good ones.

As Quiche Moraine's editor, I've got a fairly long piece up over there today defending the vocation. There's a bit of discussion going already, starting with a comment from Bora. Go check it out.


Philip H. said...

My wonky view - editors are way mor ethen gate keepers. They are that first set of critical eyes that cna help an author make her points more sharply, deliver the closing more concisly, and capture a broader audience. for all the automoation built into the modern writing enterprise, there's no substitute for good editing.

William Carlton said...

I toatally aghree.