Ionian Copyediting Position

Emily Varker, Chief Copy Editor

As I sit here preparing to write what is likely my last opinion for the Ionian, it’s hard not to lean into schmaltz. To combat this, I will therefore not offer you an overly emotional piece about how my college experience “changed my life,” but rather some closing words on my thoughts about the activity of copyediting. 

Unlike most of my distinguished Ionian colleagues, I am not responsible for managing the content you so eagerly consume. If an article is particularly interesting, it was probably them who came up with the concept. No, I work in the world of misplaced commas and proper capitalization… sort of like a human spelling and grammar check. If you’ve ever read an article and thought, “Wow! This person has really good grammar…” that is partially thanks to me. Of course, no one has likely ever thought that. However, if I wasn’t here, you’d notice. 

Good grammar is necessary to the perceived quality of a product. Making sure everything is in line with the rules set not only by the constraints of the English language but also the Associated Press Stylebook ensures that our newspaper comes across as professional and trustworthy. However, during my tenure on the Ionian e-board, I’ve found that a person’s grammar is indicative of who they are. Misspellings and incorrect punctuation say more about a person than you may think, and word choice even more so. Writing could be made unreadable with poor grammar word and choices, but does it remove individuality from a piece to make it in accordance with a set of guidelines? For instance, a person may make word choices which make a story less clear to read and have words misspelled. However, if that person is discussing their experience learning English or struggles with dyslexia, suddenly keeping in line with the guidelines removes the humanity from the piece. 

That is not to trivialize what I have honestly come to enjoy doing during my three years working on the Ionian. It is difficult to turn off the attention to detail I am required to have for my duties along with the level I inherently have, so mistakes are not just silly to me but revealing of something deeper. Mistakes are avoidable, from something as trivial as a misused punctuation mark to something as serious as microaggressive language in New York Times theater criticism. When I see mistakes such as the latter, it makes me wonder “Did nobody look this over?” That is why copyeditors are important. People may think that we’re irrelevant due to the addition of spelling and grammar check on good word processors. However, it takes a human to recognize the humanity in a piece and let it shine through while maintaining quality across the board, from the smallest period to the most pretentious word choice.