The joys of copy editing in the UD newsroom


Four (tolerable) copy editors give a (debatable) behind-the-scenes look from inside the (tiny) newsroom:

Harrison: Being a copy editor for the newspaper is all about English. We need good communication skills, solid social skills (i.e. Facebook) and a strong sense of the general populous. I have all of these skills and more.

For a while now, University of Dallas students have asked me what I do for the newspaper, and in this article I wish to shed light on it.

At 7 p.m., I show up for work and proceed to my duties of correcting grammar and other generalities. My favorite correction is to excise Oxford commas, because these are not to be in the paper, unless circumstances prove otherwise. When the clock strikes 10, we start our routine of beating a piñata of the article we disliked most from the previous issue. Too bad Kevin Burns doesn’t write any more.

My co-workers find me fun and enjoyable to work with, especially Daniel Orazio and Deandra Lieberman. I like Miss Teresa Shumay, but sometimes she can be a bit of a zealot. Mr. Orazio and Miss Lieberman are both totally enthusiastic about the paper, and we continue to have arguments about articles. I also have funny little jokes about articles such as sports, which have almost never made it in before 10, and A&E, run by my very close friend Meaghan Colvin.

Generally after getting in the last of the stragglers at about midnight, we finish up articles and wait for these to be entered into the paper. This takes some time, but afterward we look over this part again (yes, that is right, twice). After these are exported, we are free to go. By this time it is usually 2 a.m.; I will only get four hours of sleep.

My favorite part of Tuesday is when people ask me if I’ve read the paper, and I usually respond, “Twice!”

Deandra: I weep for the Oxford commas, and Mr. Denn’s unfailing hilarity is the only thing that can bring me through. It is always a delight, you might say, to experience Mr. Orazio’s passionate tirades regarding the apocalyptic state of culture, morality [in a just world, there would be an Oxford comma here – D.L.] and the English language. I would forget that Miss Shumay worked here, if Mr. Denn and Mr. Orazio ever stopped muttering imprecations against her perfection* while they worked.

*Wait, who added “perfection”?

Daniel: My time as a copy editor has only made me more bitter and disenchanted with our age. Miss Shumay’s Ayatollah-like devotion to the AP Stylebook – which she worships as her Bible! – causes me great spiritual pain. Mr. Denn can never stop cracking wit; perhaps that is why he never fails to overlook a dangling participle! As for Miss Lieberman, that sawcy, pedantic wretch, it’s as though she’s been on the job for 10 minutes, so helpless is she. (Rumor has it that she still doesn’t know how to download articles!)

Now, if you will excuse me, I shall return to my favorite pastime: reading the radiant verse of my native tongue – Attic Greek.

Teresa: Since the beginning of my career at The University News, I have been criticized for my devotion to grammatical perfection and stylistic excellence. I have endured the insults and mockery of my co-workers, the scowls of writers and comic artists, and the incessant opposition of Harrison Denn to any and all of my well-informed corrections and re-corrections of his work. My most glorious moments have been ignored, my triumphs unrecognized, my efforts unappreciated. After three semesters humbly suffering under the oppression of my colleagues and inferiors, I vowed to expose the incompetence of Messrs. Orazio and Denn.

One night prior to printing, I refused participation in the final review of the newspaper and transferred the responsibility into the eager, grasping hands of Daniel Orazio. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. Aside from the general abuse of standard English punctuation and the willful and perfidious departure from the AP Stylebook published in that edition for all to see, one page in particular caught my well-trained eye. At the top of page four, in bold, confident letters, the headline contained (to my glory and Orazio’s humiliation) a flagrant misspelling! Anyone could have noticed, and everyone at the university did, save the two above-named “copy editors,” who (even despite Microsoft’s red squiggly line!) overlooked that most basic error.

Ladies and gentlemen, gentle readers and friends, I regret to inform you that, despite their proven inability and the recent hiring of Deandra Lieberman (glory of the newsroom!), Daniel Orazio and Harrison Denn are still employed by The University News for reasons unknown to any.


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